In spite of being well fed and cared for, some dogs will steal food and scavenge at every opportunity. This may lead owners to worry that the dog’s diet is deficient in some respect, but if you are using a balanced prepared food, then there should be no concern about this. It is possible that there could be an underlying medical problem, however, especially if in spite of having a healthy appetite the dog appears to be losing weight.
Many owners prefer to feed adult dogs just once a day, but in fact, it may be better to offer food morning and evening, in smaller amounts. This can be less stressful for the dog, because its stomach will probably contain food for a longer period. On account of this it may be somewhat less prone to stealing, or consuming inedible objects such as stones.
Since they are scavengers by nature, in addition to their hunting instincts, many dogs will steal food even when they are being fed properly and are not suffering from illness. The simple solution in this case is to ensure that all food remains out of their reach. Be sure to remember that as puppies grow up so they can reach higher, and the larger breeds can easily reach a worktop in a kitchen.
If you catch your dog in the act of stealing food, then you should scold it appropriately; after the event though, this is likely to be counter-productive. The dog will not be able to recollect the cause of the punishment, and as a result this may simply serve to damage the bond between you. Even the scent of food, as on the wrapping around meat, can be attractive. If this is deposited in an open bin or refuse sack, the dog may steal the wrapping, taking it through the house, and causing a mess, as well as finally eating it. There is a possibility that this may cause a blockage in the intestinal tract, while raw meat can be a source of various infectious micro-organisms, such as Salmonella.
Again, prevention is somewhat easier than overcoming the problem directly, but if you find the dog running off with something it has stolen from the rubbish, do not chase after it. The dog is likely to see this as a game, and a means of attracting your attention. Instead, call the dog back to you, and tell it to drop whatever it has taken. Do not scold the dog, but praise it instead, assuming that the item concerned is readily relinquished. Alternatively, you could open the dog’s mouth and remove the item. The same applies if the dog takes other things such as slippers which it is not supposed to have, although it is equally important to replace them out of reach for the future.
Do not discard food or food wrappings in waste bins, because your dog is unlikely to be able to resist the temptation of scavenging, tipping the bin out in the process.