The Scavenging Terrier.

This is the first of our new 'Ask Mr Bones' features. We select one of the many questions that we've been asked on social media and answer it here on our hints and tips page.

Our first question comes from Diana, this is what she had to say:

'Dear Mr Bones, how can I stop my very naughty and food obsessed Norwich Terrier from constantly running over to the cafe on the common? I try to avoid the area near it, but lately he just runs across half the common to get to the pasta on the floor! Any advice would be appreciated as he's becoming a real nuisance.'

Mr Bones replies:

Thanks for a great question, Diana. I’m sure this is a predicament with which many dog owners empathise. Behavioural science shows us that a behaviour that is rewarded will continue. Your little Norwich Terrier continues to race to the café as doing so is rewarded by the bounty that he finds under the tables. As all dogs are scavengers his behaviour is totally natural rather than naughty.

So, how do you prevent this? Well, put simply, it needs to be much more fun and rewarding to be with you than it is at the café! Constructive play, interaction and fun training should all be part of a walk. There are many great training games that I would recommend. For example, playing ‘Find it’ games that encourage him to use his super terrier nose to scent out treats that you’ve hidden in the grass. I’d recommend unpredictably starting play with any toys that he likes, such as balls or tug toys, so he keeps checking in with you to see what sort of fun is going to happen next. Hide behind a tree when he's not looking and call him, praise and play with him when he finds you. After a few of these he'll keep looking to see where you are. A ‘Close’ command, where he’s rewarded for walking next to you and focusing on you, is a great tool that you can employ while walking past the café. Finally, a rock-solid recall is essential so you can call him back if he does decide to head in that direction. Remember, recall should always be rewarding for the dog. If he’s used to being called back and always put on lead then he’s not going to bother returning.

Happy Training, Diana!

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