How to Stop a Dog Stealing Food from the Table

how to stop a dog stealing from the table

Often our dogs do things we really don’t want them to do. Stealing food from the table or even off the kitchen worktop is extremely anti-social and unhygienic so should be stopped. Not only that, but you are going to go without food, and it could even make your dog very ill if they steal the wrong food off your tabletops.

There are some tried and trusted ways of stopping your dog from grabbing food from worktops and tables. It will take some perseverance and patience from your side. Not only can it be done but it’s essential too if you want to keep your dog healthy.

Below are the best tips on how to stop a dog stealing food off the table or worktop, even when you are not at home.

How to stop a dog from stealing food off the table

Training your dog from puppyhood to not steal food from the table or worktop is always the best (and right) way to ensure they never steal from the table. But, what about the dog who hasn’t learnt this in the first place? Or, for some reason, it’s become a bad habit for your little pooch?

1. Don’t feed your dog from the table or kitchen worktop

Most dog owners are often guilty of this one bad habit – feeding scraps to our dog from the table or kitchen worktop. Most times, it’s hard to resist the begging eyes.

I get you but hear me out. Not only are you risking your dog getting overweight. All those little food bits will soon add up to quite a bit especially the juicy, fatty pieces.

But you’re also encouraging your dog to not only like the food you’re eating, but also think it’s his time to be fed too.

It’s only natural he’s going to want more when you’re not looking and before you know it, he’ll be scooting around the table and worktop looking for more delicious food.

Cut this habit out, and you can go a long way to stopping your dog from grabbing food from tables and worktops.

how to stop a dog stealing food from the table
Remove all temptation and food from tables so your dog isn’t tempted into stealing. (Image via

2. Make sure your dog is getting enough food

One of the reasons your dog could be stealing food from the table is because they’re hungry (or their food doesn’t taste good). Check out their dietary requirements by reading the guidelines on your dog’s food packet. If you’re underfeeding them, step up the quantities.

Your dog could also be hungry because he’s an active dog, So, you may be feeding him the right quantities according to the bag’s recommendations. But he might need some more so give him enough to keep away the hunger pangs.

If you’re still not sure if he’s hungry, weigh him. If he’s underweight and there’s no other medical reason for it, then he’s not getting enough food.

Handy Hint: Here’s why your dog is obsessed with food.

3. Train your dog to not steal food from tables at a young age

A well-disciplined dog knows that table or worktop surfing is a no-no. This knowledge comes from being properly trained as a puppy to not steal food from tables. This could be training from yourself as his owner or training from a professional dog trainer.

From young, your dog needs to know that table surfing and stealing food from the table is bad behavior. Remember, a dog relies on his natural instinct for most of his behaviors. Scavenging for food is one of those instincts your dog responds to.

Food on the table or worktop is easy prey for him and he’ll take the chance while he can. So, make sure your pup is trained from young to not steal from the table. If your dog is older, you’ll have to be more patient and firmer until he knows it’s not the right behavior.

4. Remove all temptations from tables and worktops

You’ve done the training, your dog is well fed and you don’t feed him from the table. But he’s still finding every opportunity to steal food from the table. Sometimes, the only way to stop your dog from stealing the food from worktops and tables is to remove it (the food, that is).

Always clear the table once a meal is finished and put away any leftovers straight into the fridge. If you’re keeping food on the worktop such as snacks and other goodies, move them as far back to the worktop as possible. Or, simply store them in the pantry.

If you’re cooling cooked food down on the kitchen countertop, remove your dog from the kitchen and close the door. By removing all temptations, there’s no reason for your dog to jump up onto tables and worktops.

5. Only give your dog food from the dog bowl

The only time your dog should get food is from his dog bowl. When your dog associates food with a designated dog bowl, he’ll learn that it’s the only place he should go to for food.

Teach your human children to not give your dog their sandwiches, snacks and other goodies from their hands. The same applies to you. Don’t be tempted to feed anything to your dog except from his dog bowl.

Make sure you only put dog food in his bowl. If you start adding leftovers from your meal, you’re going to encourage him to ask for more of your tasty morsels – or just steal it without asking!

6. Give your dog enough attention

Bad habits sometimes come about because your dog is looking for attention. He may also be bored. By giving him attention throughout the day and keeping him active, he’s less likely to turn to bad behavior.

Dogs that start to steal food from the table or worktop is often a bad habit formed from a desire to get your attention. A lot of your dog’s bad habits develop for this very reason.

This is particular true if you shout and chase your dog after they have stolen from the worktop. This could be just the excitement they are looking for if bored so will repeat the action to get more fun.

Make sure you play games with your dog during the day and take him for walks. You could also spend time cuddling with him and giving him loads of love. When a dog feels secure and stimulated, they’re content and more inclined to behave themselves.

7. Never shout at your dog

This last tip is one most of us are guilty of doing. It’s a normal reaction to shout at your dog out of pure frustration especially when he’s just golloped down your favorite steak stolen from the worktop.

When you shout at your dog, he often sees it as a form of attention. He’ll slunk away for sure and look upset, but it won’t stop him from stealing food next time round.

Rather, be firm and remove your dog outside. Tell him he’s been a “bad boy” and ignore him for a while. Do this every time he steals from the table or worktop.

Handy Hint: Dogs like this also tend to be very adept at jumping over fences; here’s how to stop fence climbing.

Why must you stop your dog stealing from the table?

Now you’ve read the tips, let’s talk about why you have to stop your dog stealing from your table besides the obvious (it’s your food not theirs):

  • Not all human food is fit for doggie consumption: Some of our food is not good for dogs and they could end up getting sick.
  • Your dog will start getting overweight: especially if he’s stealing all the time. An overweight dog could lead to health complications such as diabetes.
  • It’s a bad habit that could lead to other bad behavior: such as snatching food from a child’s hand.
  • Your dog may stop eating his own food: which is a balanced diet if he keeps stealing food off the table or worktop.

Now, you know the reasons for stopping your dog from stealing food from the table or worktop, please now put some of the tips into action to stop the thievery!


There’s nothing worse than walking into your kitchen only to find your recently cooked roast has disappeared off the worktop or table.

It’s easy to guess who the culprit is too. All you have to do is watch your dog crawl away, looking very guilty!

You can get seriously mad with your dog but it’s not going to solve the problem. Once your dog gets into the habit of stealing food off the table or counter surfing, he’s not going to stop doing it easily.

Thankfully my dog isn’t tall enough to steal food from our table, so I’ve never had put these training tips into practice. However, elements of these tips have helped us to train him when he’s gone to steal food from my son’s hands, so it does work.

If you have any other tips on how to How to stop a dog stealing from the table, please do contact me on social media so I can include them here.

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There are plenty of things we don’t like our dogs to do, and thankfully some are easier to stop than others. Here’s a selection.

Image in header via

Marc Aaron

I write about the things we've learned about owning dogs, the adventures we have, and any advice and tips we've picked up along the way.

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