Poison Proofing Your Dog
Not many people need to worry about poison proofing
a dog. But if you happen to be someone who is being stalked, or if
you engage in
a profession where people may try and hurt you or your family, then
its not a bad idea to consider doing this. Even if its just to insure
that no one will kill your pet.
The KNPV (Royal Dutch Police Dog) sport has food refusal as an exercise.
I have an excellent article on my web site titled The Royal Dutch
Police dog Association - Food Refusal. In this exercise the dog is
put in a down position and the helper comes up and tosses food to
the dog - who is suppose to ignore it. Food is also left on the ground
around the jumps and the dogs also ignore this. It takes less training
to do this type of refusal than it does to poison proof a family
pet or personal protection dog.
Dogs can learn that the only place they accept food is out of their
own food bowl. If that food bowl is not left in an outside dog run
they should not eat any food left in a run or a back yard.
The initial concept
is the same. Food is left in the front or back yard in a dog bowl.
dog is walked on leash
(I prefer a Flexi
Lead). Get down wind of the food bowl and watch for when the dog
gets odor. As he approaches the bowl give a firm "NO",
if need be give a leash correction. The level of correction or tone
of the voice needs to be firm and not MEAN. We don't want to kill
the temperament of our dog here.
It's also important to vary the type of treats and
the location. Use table scraps, steak bones anything you can think
of. You want
to include food dipped in anti-freeze (allowing dogs to drink anti
freeze is a common way to kill a dog - its a terrible death). A strong
word of caution here, when you use the anti freeze it is absolutely
critical that you pick up every piece of food that was dipped in
it after you are done training. If you forget a piece you run the
risk of poisoning a neighbors pet that comes along and eats the food..
The purpose for using it in training is to teach the dog that this
is a scent that they are supposed to stay away from.
This work in the yard can go on for several days. We can put several
bowls of food out around the yard or even down the block where we
are going to take a walk. The dog is never off leash during this
training. If a prong collar is needed then use it. If you are not
familiar with the proper use of a prong collar, refer to my training
tape Basic Dog Obedience. As the dog gains experience we want to
see him make a definite decision to leave the bowl alone. When we
see this - its always followed by a lot of praise. I would not give
a food reward for proper behavior. A key here is for the handler
to develop some skill at having enough patience to allow the dog
to acquire odor and have enough time to make up his mind to leave
the food alone. So there is a fine line between giving a correction
and allowing the dog to show you that he is learning and will walk
away on his own.
When we see the dog leaving the bowls of food, its time to eliminate
the bowl and just leave food in the yard or on the street. You will
find that this step is going to require additional training. Again,
its done on leash. The dog should pick it up pretty fast. You should
be able to test the dog in your yard, while on a walk, down in the
park - actually everywhere you normally take the dog. It is not a
difficult concept that the only place he eats is at home in the house
or in his pen (although if someone is bent on killing your dog you
will have to take this into consideration).
When a dog is doing
a good job of ignoring the food tossed in the yard then its time
Here you should use
an electric collar. For non-professional dog trainers I like the
Tri Tronic Companion model. Here the dog can be allowed to be off
leash. Initially you can be in the yard with the dog. If it goes
near the food and you feel he is going to go to it - give the dog
stimulation - without any verbal command. We are doing 2 things here,
eliminating the leash and eliminating the voice command "NO" (you
will not always be in a position to warn your dog to not take food
so its going to have to learn to not do this on his own.) After the
stimulation you can praise the dog when he moves back away from the
It should take very little work at this level of training for the
dog to be reminded that its not suppose to be going near this temptation.
When you are comfortable, then its time to let the dog out on his
own and you stay in the house. Make sure the collar is going to work
from where you are hiding (have someone take the collar out and put
the test light on it so you are 100% sure that the dog will be stimulated
at the proper time.)
If by chance your timing is off or something happens and a dog gets
a piece of meat before you can stop him, then you need to back up
your training. By this I mean, put him back on leash, put a prong
collar on him and put a really tasty piece of meat out in the exact
same spot he snared one on you. This time when he even acts like
he wants to make a move on the meat he gets a level 10 correction.
When I have a dog that will leave food left in the yard I will start
to work with the dog being outside on a tie out and having a stranger
come up and toss food to him (similar to what is done in the KNPV)
You can get a lot of ideas on what to do from my friend Bobs article
on my web site.
When a dog will leave food that is tossed to him while he is tied
out, then its time to allow him to be loose in his yard or kennel
and have meat tossed over the fence when you are not outside with
him. Again, he will have the collar on and we will stimulate him
if need be.
If you feel that s some one is trying to poison your dog, and you
find food that has been left for him, pick it up in a zip lock bag
and make sure the police get it. They will be able to have it tested
for poison. If you are not satisfied with efforts by the police you
may want to get the local District Attorney involved or the news
I am always open to other good ideas or additional training steps
to problems like this. If you care to pass them on and I agree
with the approach I will add them to this article.