Stop Dog Running Away From Me After Getting Treat

by Jeff
(Long Island, NY)

My puppy is a Jack Russell. When I say sit he obeys so I give him treats. After getting the treat he runs far away from me to eat it.

What should I do?

Editor Suggestion for Jack That Runs Away to Eat

Sure, I'd be happy to provide some advice on this situation!

Firstly, let's understand the behavior. When your Jack Russell puppy runs away with the treat, it's likely because he's exhibiting a natural dog behavior called 'resource guarding.' In the wild, dogs would take their food away to a safe spot to eat, where other animals can't steal it. Your puppy isn't necessarily being disobedient; he's just following his instincts.

Now, onto how to adjust this behavior:

Creating a Safe Space: The first step is to create a safe eating space for your puppy. This could be a quiet corner or his crate. Each time you give him a treat, guide him to this safe space. He will soon start associating this spot with eating, which could minimize the running away.

Practice 'Stay' Command: While teaching him to sit is a great start, you also need to train him on the 'stay' command. This will help him learn to stay put even after you give him the treat. Start by teaching him to stay for short periods, gradually increasing the duration. Remember to reward him for obeying the command.

Hand Feeding: Try hand feeding him some of his treats or even meals. This not only reinforces your role as his food provider but also helps to build trust and bonding. Remember not to force it if he shows discomfort. The idea is to get him comfortable with eating in your presence.

Desensitize and Counter-Conditioning: Gradually get him used to eating around you without running off. Start by standing a little further away than he is comfortable with, then slowly decrease the distance over time as he gets used to your presence. Pair this with positive reinforcement, such as praise or petting if he allows you to be near while he eats.

Avoid Chasing: If your puppy does run away with the treat, avoid chasing him. Chasing can reinforce the behavior, as it could be seen as a fun game, or it could increase his feeling of needing to guard his resource.

Consistent Rules: Consistency is key. Everyone in the household should follow the same rules to avoid confusing your puppy.

Remember that behavior change takes time and patience, and you should always use positive reinforcement techniques. Negative reinforcement or punishment can harm your relationship with your puppy and potentially exacerbate the problem. If the behavior persists or escalates (e.g., your puppy shows signs of aggression), it may be wise to consult with a professional dog trainer or animal behaviorist.

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