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Food Obsession Is Getting Very Old, Please Help


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As you might know, we have now had Phoebe for a little over a year. She is three years old, going to be four in February. Ever since we got her, she's been very, very food-motivated. At first this was great, since it helped us teach her how to do stairs, and I was able to teach her a couple of basic commands--sit, shake, down--quite easily.

 

Well, now it is just plain annoying. :angry: I've been trying to teach her "OUT" as a command to stay out of the kitchen when I am in there preparing a meal, or cleaning up after a meal. She knows what it means--it means to have all four paws on the carpet of the living room, NOT on the hardwood kitchen floor. She's smart enough to know that, and will listen if you tell her--however, there are...ahem...some people who live here who aren't horribly consistent, and therein lies the problem. Plus, she is also very focused on my husband (who is the most inconsistent one of the three of us who live here!), and the minute he gets out of his kitchen chair, she feels that she can enter the kitchen again, and stick to his side. He usually doesn't tell her OUT, so then I do, or our daughter does, and then he gets upset that we are 'raising our voice'. But as DD points out, you can't just 'suggest' it to Phoebe, you have to 'say it like you mean it'.

 

I knew that having Thanksgiving here would be a nightmare with Phoebe around, so we took her to a kennel for two nights. :( It was nice--no dog with her nose on the counter, no yelling "OUT" every two seconds, nobody had to worry about her stealing food off their plate--because she would do that in a heartbeat. :shakefinger

 

We had to have a bunch of people here for a few days after Thanksgiving--after Phoebe came home--because of a death in the family. It was not fun. At all. She is almost frantic when there is food around. The first time, I made her a Kong--treats, turkey, mashed potatoes, peanut butter on top, frozen--and put her in the bedroom behind a gate. All was great for the first 8 or 10 minutes. Then she finished the Kong and started whining, then barking. I later discovered that she chewed the wooden top of the gate. The next time people came over, I ended up taking her in the bedroom and staying there with her, because she was such a PITA.

 

Recently, I have eliminated almost all of the treats she was getting. My DH would give her treats for no reason, and I put an end to that. The only time I really give her treats is when we are out walking, if she successfully ignores a barking dog (because she wants to carry on and bark at every other dog she sees OR hears--but that's another issue!). And I have really curbed that lately, too--I will only give her a treat intermittently. I'm trying to get her to rely more on praise than on treats. With moderate success, at best.

 

Phoebe is unlike any of the other four greyhounds we've had. I truly think that she doesn't really care that much about PEOPLE....only food. :( None of our other dogs were like this, even Buddy, who was food motivated. Phoebe takes it to a whole new level. If there is food around, she doesn't even want people to touch her--she just wants the food. Frantic is the best word I can think of to describe how she is. It is truly driving me crazy, and it makes me not like her very much at those times. I hate to admit that, but there it is.

 

Can anyone help?

Phoebe (Belle's Sweetpea) adopted 9/2/13.

Jack (BTR Captain Jack) 9/28/05--11/2/12
Always missing Buddy, Ruby, and Rascal.

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Seems like she is similar to Xavi. I have to be very consistant with Xavi about setting boundaries, etc, and I make it clear that I mean it. Luckily I am the only person here, so that is easy to do. I think it will be more difficult with more people.

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Xavi the galgo and Allen the cat. Missing Iker the galgo ?-Feb.9/19, Treasure (USS Treasure) April 12/01-May 6/13, Phoenix (Hallo Top Son) Dec.14/99-June 4/11 and Loca (Reko Swahili) Oct.9/95 - June 1/09.

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We had a crate initially, when we got Phoebe. She never went into it willingly, and we got rid of it when she got to the point of having to be pushed into it. I kind of doubt she'd go for it now, because of how she reacted to it before.

 

In fact, she's got a little bit of skin missing from right above her nose....and I think that happened while she was at the kennel last week, as I noticed it after she came home from there. I suspect she may have been chewing at the bars, trying to get out??

Phoebe (Belle's Sweetpea) adopted 9/2/13.

Jack (BTR Captain Jack) 9/28/05--11/2/12
Always missing Buddy, Ruby, and Rascal.

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You know, I was looking at rawhides at the store today, thinking that might help---but I've always been hesitant to give those. She has a deer antler, but couldn't be distracted with that. :(

Phoebe (Belle's Sweetpea) adopted 9/2/13.

Jack (BTR Captain Jack) 9/28/05--11/2/12
Always missing Buddy, Ruby, and Rascal.

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You know, I was looking at rawhides at the store today, thinking that might help---but I've always been hesitant to give those. She has a deer antler, but couldn't be distracted with that. :(

 

Himalayan dog chew? Sweep likes them but doesn't have the attention span and/or is not food motivated enough to finish one. Sounds like that wouldn't be a problem with Phoebe. ;)

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Rachel with Sweep and kitties Olive and Momo.
Always missing my boys Mud and
Henry

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Guest sireltonsmom

Since the issue is the inconsistants in the house, perhaps one of tbem could be responsible for distracting her when you need to be in tbe kitchen. Good luck.

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Impulse control, impulse control, and more impulse control. And when you can't be working on that then crated or gated (with a muzzle) and ignore her carrying on.

 

As far as the impulse control goes, play lots of "It's your choice". Basically you are teaching the dog that resisting their urges results in reward whereas giving in gets them nothing. The dog learns over time to practice impulse control because it pays. Here's Kili playing a version of "It's your choice" with a cup containing food. When she tries to get the food I keep my hand over it so she can't. When she finally backs off I take my hand off the container for a moment to see what she will do. If she goes for the food I cover it before she can have any. If she practices impulse control and doesn't try to investigate the cup I reward her with a piece of food from the cup. You can play this game any time, both formally and informally so that the dog learns that it applies at all times and not just during "training". So you can sit down with a cup like I did and play the game, but also play it randomly. For example, I might sit down on the couch with my dinner to watch t.v. If she investigates I cover my plate with my arms, if she leaves it alone she might get a dog biscuit as a reward.

 

This game will be infinitely difficult and frustrating at first with a super food motivated hound, but it has to be done. You have to work through the initial difficult stages no matter how hard or frustrating they are.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v-ywdZzduoU&list=UUv4UPHwt2tthOhojMb-jtXg

Kristie and the Apex Agility Greyhounds: Kili (ATChC AgMCh Lakilanni Where Eagles Fly RN IP MSCDC MTRDC ExS Bronze ExJ Bronze ) and Kenna (Lakilanni Kiss The Sky RN MADC MJDC AGDC AGEx AGExJ). Waiting at the Bridge: Retired racer Summit (Bbf Dropout) May 5, 2005-Jan 30, 2019

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Sounds like more a people problem than a dog problem. Consistency i really key in a situation like this. I've owned and fostered many very food motivated dogs. and all have learned not to beg for food. (Goodies left unattended may be another story, but that's on me.) Like Robin, I have the HUGE advantage of being the only human here. I think it can be much harder to change the people's behavior than the dogs!

 

As for her barking if she' baby-gated out of the room, if you could endure ignoring her for long enough, she would likely stop, but she would no doubt escalate first, and, again, you would need the cooperation of all the other people present.

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OMG, krissy, I can only dream of Phoebe having that much self-control! :lol But that is a fabulous suggestion--and I am going to try it. Thanks for sharing that video. I really do think that impulse control is a large part of Phoebe's problem..............

 

............but Hope, you are right, too--it's also a people problem. I get so very frustrated with the inconsistencies. :riphair

 

Tonight when I was getting Phoebe's dinner, I made her stay OUT of the kitchen while I scooped the food out. It took several OUTs until she stayed there, but she did! :) Then, when I took the food to her 'table', I made her SIT, and told her to STAY for maybe five seconds. Then I told her OK and let her eat. She did it! Of course nobody else was home at this time....

 

I'm sure she'd be very trainable if there were only one person here.... ;) She seems quite bright, but, just like with children, if there are inconsistencies, they really try and exploit that!

Edited by rascalsmom

Phoebe (Belle's Sweetpea) adopted 9/2/13.

Jack (BTR Captain Jack) 9/28/05--11/2/12
Always missing Buddy, Ruby, and Rascal.

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OMG, krissy, I can only dream of Phoebe having that much self-control! :lol But that is a fabulous suggestion--and I am going to try it. Thanks for sharing that video. I really do think that impulse control is a large part of Phoebe's problem..............

 

............but Hope, you are right, too--it's also a people problem. I get so very frustrated with the inconsistencies. :riphair

 

It is going to be difficult at first. Kili had already had some impulse control training prior to this video. It is an ongoing process with her as she is also extremely food motivated, but this was certainly not a "starting point".

 

And consistency is important. You need to get everyone on board or nothing is going to work effectively. Unfortunate, but true. Tell hubby you'll kick his butt if he doesn't start behaving. Orrrr... when he DOES stick to the plan, reinforce with a beer, chocolate, and a football game. lol

Kristie and the Apex Agility Greyhounds: Kili (ATChC AgMCh Lakilanni Where Eagles Fly RN IP MSCDC MTRDC ExS Bronze ExJ Bronze ) and Kenna (Lakilanni Kiss The Sky RN MADC MJDC AGDC AGEx AGExJ). Waiting at the Bridge: Retired racer Summit (Bbf Dropout) May 5, 2005-Jan 30, 2019

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Maybe you could get people to be consistent about one thing? If you make the one thing simple enough (no Phoebe in the kitchen unless Melissa invites her), them maybe you'd have a hope of training the other people too?

 

Star is pretty food obsessed, but she knows two things: 1. She won't get a treat every time she thinks she should (altho she does get little tiny ones often), and 2. The sorrowfully spoken "Nooo, noooo, not for dogs."

Star aka Starz Ovation (Ronco x Oneco Maggie*, litter #48538), Coco aka Low Key (Kiowa Mon Manny x Party Hardy, litter # 59881), and mom in Illinois
We miss Reko Batman (Trouper Zeke x Marque Louisiana), 11/15/95-6/29/06, Rocco the thistledown whippet, 04/29/93-10/14/08, Reko Zema (Mo Kick x Reko Princess), 8/16/98-4/18/10, the most beautiful girl in the whole USA, my good egg Joseph aka Won by a Nose (Oneco Cufflink x Buy Back), 09/22/2003-03/01/2013, and our gentle sweet Gidget (Digitizer, Dodgem by Design x Sobe Mulberry), 1/29/2006-11/22/2014, gone much too soon. Never forgetting CJC's Buckshot, 1/2/07-10/25/10.

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So krissy and Jey, what you are both saying is that the treats need to be directed toward the husband, not the dog, right? :lol. I think you may be on to something. The human needs to be trained first. ;).

 

I was so pleased when she finally listened to me when I was giving her dinner. She's a quick study....when she wants to be.

Phoebe (Belle's Sweetpea) adopted 9/2/13.

Jack (BTR Captain Jack) 9/28/05--11/2/12
Always missing Buddy, Ruby, and Rascal.

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It's going to take time because she's learned she doesn't *have* to be smart and/or obedient. "Someone" in the house will give in waaaaaaay before she does. Perhaps if you point out to "someone" how well the dog has him (or her) trained, he (or she) might become a bit more consistent.

 

You can make the Kong last longer if you freeze it, for those times when she needs to be away from guests at the table. I would be reticent to give her a big enough rawhide to last a long time. My food motivated girl can decimate a rawhide very fast - then she has lumps of rawhide in her poop for days. And then there's the possibility of choking while she's not being directly supervised.

Chris - Mom to: Lilly, Felicity (DeLand), and Andi (Braska Pandora)

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Angels: Libby (Everlast), Dorie (Dog Gone Holly), Dude (TNJ VooDoo), Copper (Kid's Copper), Cash (GSI Payncash), Toni (LPH Cry Baby), Whiskey (KT's Phys Ed), Atom

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:lol re training the human. But, yeah. Positive methods, remember? and plenty of high-value treats. :lol :lol :lol

Star aka Starz Ovation (Ronco x Oneco Maggie*, litter #48538), Coco aka Low Key (Kiowa Mon Manny x Party Hardy, litter # 59881), and mom in Illinois
We miss Reko Batman (Trouper Zeke x Marque Louisiana), 11/15/95-6/29/06, Rocco the thistledown whippet, 04/29/93-10/14/08, Reko Zema (Mo Kick x Reko Princess), 8/16/98-4/18/10, the most beautiful girl in the whole USA, my good egg Joseph aka Won by a Nose (Oneco Cufflink x Buy Back), 09/22/2003-03/01/2013, and our gentle sweet Gidget (Digitizer, Dodgem by Design x Sobe Mulberry), 1/29/2006-11/22/2014, gone much too soon. Never forgetting CJC's Buckshot, 1/2/07-10/25/10.

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When my kids(people not dogs) where little I baby gated them out of the kitchen. Don't know if that is possible but maybe an idea. Also, the place where I adopted both dogs gives the dogs huge knuckle bones. They are the best thing ever for keeping the dog's teeth clean and they keep the dogs busy chewing. Do you have time to walk her before cooking dinner? Maybe that would help. Our new female is also really food obsessive but I am not sure yet if that is how she will stay since we haven't even had her a month yet. The kids have been taught they can't get up from the table and leave their food for even a second. This dog stole a person's lunch off the counter at the adoption place. I think that the training mentioned earlier in the video would be interesting to try.

Chocko, Nilla, and Comet Queen.

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i must be totally crazy. i keep a new dog or foster in the kitchen with me when i cook so i can train it not to take food either out of the fridge when i open it(yes, iv'e seen that), try to get it off the counter, or go for fall out as i cook. yes, it's not easy, but i do it. i start w/ short (max 5 minute) intervals and lengthen the time manners are taught. it's a matter of being organized and keeping one eye on the dog but it works.

 

in training classes we teach "leave it". we walk our dogs with high quality bits of hot dogs are sliced and left on plates on the floor as we weave in and out of them. eventually we do sits and stops next to the treats. as mentioned above it's consistency on everyone's part and patience. positive reinforcement at the end of the session be it prepping a meal, classes, staying on the bed during dinner.

 

additional exercise and keeping the dog tired never hurts, some dogs need to really let loose before training- others will go to sleep from exhaustion. your dog is still very energetic and young, the additional run around will be an asset.

 

if your kitchen is big enough how about a placing a bed in it and work on stay. a short stay and then have the dog taken somewhere for another positive activity. it's a matter of changing your current routine and reinventing the wheel. new routine, new habits, a change in scenery-

Edited by cleptogrey
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Orrrr... when he DOES stick to the plan, reinforce with a beer, chocolate, and a football game. lol

:nod

 

Our guy can also destroy a bully stick or yak chew in minutes, but he's not quite bright enough to have figured out the kong completely... Since your hound is so food obsessed, I would caution against a knuckle bone because of the effect eating so much bone meal can have on uh...the poop. With Marvin, the bone meal made his poo too dry and crumbly, and he had a lot of trouble on the back end.

 

Consistency was the key for us, and it has also helped that everywhere we've lived, the kitchen was not an open kitchen. Putting down an empty spray bottle or baby gating the entrance was more than sufficient to keep him safely out of the kitchen. Marvin knows exactly what 'Get out of the kitchen' means, but it doesn't mean he doesn't still test the boundaries every few months. We only give treats if he has earned them, and we also found the game Krissy showed to be really helpful. It took several months to get Marvin to be less food-obsessed, but he's come a long way. The path might have been easier if we'd named him something other than Starvin' Marvin...

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Another vote for "it's your choice." We did this game constantly with Truman (who is a huge food thief as a puppy and used to steal food right out of people's hands). We did it for increasingly longer durations, higher value food, and more challenging distractions (just like Krissy did, tossing food close to him and even sitting the food on his paw, turning your back, and leaving the room). It teaches them that you only get food if you're being calm, and I offer it to you. Eventually, you can start doing giving less food rewards and only give the occasional, intermittent reward (i.e. the treat lottery).

 

Now, even if Truman doesn't get the food, he at least offers positive, calm behaviors like sitting and maintaining eye contact. If it's something particularly high value, you can see the drool dripping out of his mouth, but he still maintains focus and doesn't try to steal. He has zero problems with food impulse control... actually, that's the ONE thing he is "obedient" at.

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My girl wasn't super food motivated, but she was curious and mischievous. We baby-gated her out of the kitchen when we first got her, left the gate up for a while, and eventually took it down. She learned that she wasn't allowed to cross the threshold, so even after the gate was gone she'd stand at the door looking pathetic :lol

 

I love the idea of the "it's your choice" game. I've never heard of it but it seems like a neat way to teach impulse control.

 

Also definitely train the humans ;) Although it might be worth starting the impulse control training when you're alone with her and working up to incorporating more distractions from there.

Mom of bridge babies Regis and Dusty.

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