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Prevent the Attack of a Table Shark

July 29, 2019

The attack of the table shark

The Discovery Channel’s Shark Week has started. We are simultaneously fearful and fascinated with these creatures of the deep. However, what do you do when a four-legged furry friend, known as the table shark, exhibits those same predatory tendencies with your lunch/snack/dinner? Covetrus celebrates the upcoming Shark Week with tips to tame the table shark in our four-legged friends that you can share with clients.

Tips to train the top offenders

Dogs are the number one culprits of table sharking. When a dog “counter-surfs” and successfully finds and takes food, he learns that searching for food anywhere and everywhere ends in reward. As a result, the reinforced behavior becomes difficult to reverse. However, there are a few things that can be done to combat this behavior. The American Kennel Club offers these tips:

  1. Remove the opportunity. If not even crumb is left on the countertop, the dog will eventually stop coming, similar to the effect of leaving a bird feeder empty. Eventually, the birds will stop coming.
  2. Reward him for resisting. When you see the dog roaming the kitchen, train him to go back to his place and reward him for it.
  3. Teach him “leave it.” Whenever you see the dog sniffing for food, use the command “leave it” to train him to back away.

What about more stubborn animals?

Is there anything more futile than telling a cat what to do? Cats have a reputation for doing things their way, and attempting to discipline a cat will more often than not lead to failure and a lousy relationship with the cat. When your clients come to you with troubles like cats climbing on countertops or furniture, offer them a homeopathic solution. Essential oils can work as a great repellant. Here are a few examples that your clients will enjoy but their cats will avoid:

  • Eucalyptus oil is a scent that will keep your cat across the room. The scent is minty with a hint of honey, which humans love and cats hate.
  • Citronella is known for keeping mosquitoes away, but cats also wince at the smell. You will want to keep this off your skin and your cat’s skin; therefore, the best use is a candle on the kitchen countertop.
  • Citrus is another effective repellant that people love and cats do not. Lemon and orange are found in many natural cleaning agents. You can simply use these to clean the kitchen, and your cat will likely avoid that area.

There are also essential oils that can keep a cat in places of which owners approve. Catnip and valerian root are highly attractive to cats. Placing a tiny drop on a cat bed or a scratching post will certainly lure a cat to that area.

Stop the begging.

Dogs are known for begging for food. They often inch closer and closer, testing the boundaries before they reach for a bite. There are ways to avoid this kind of behavior that you can teach your clients.

  • Ignoring him can be very effective. Don’t make eye contact. Don’t give in even once. If you have fed him in the past, be prepared for an extinction burst, a flurry of activity that happens when behavior no longer gains the rewards it previously did.
  • Train your dog to provide an alternative response. For example, you can use a clicker to treat your dog to associate lying on a mat with getting a treat; thereby isolating treat rewards to a specific area.
  • Use baby gates or a food puzzle toy to occupy your dog while you eat. This is an effective method to use while training.

There are many methods for taming a table shark. South Boston Animal Hospital recommends using the “stay” command for dogs, but the key to success is finding the right technique for the right pet and owner. Above are just a few you can offer your clients.

Contact your Covetrus North America representative for more information at 855.724.3461.


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