By Kathy Santo | Updated: Mar 22 2019
“My dog licks the dirty dishes when we load the dishwasher. My husband thought that if we gave her one plate to clean off before we loaded it, she would stop. But it didn’t work. She insists on licking every plate and utensil she can get her mouth on. What can we do to stop this behavior?”
I understand the message that your husband was trying to send your dog – “You can have one plate, but leave the rest alone.” Sadly, the only message she heard was “Plates taste delicious!” Dogs don’t understand the human concept of moderation. The one plate that he allowed her to lick tasted wonderful, so when you’re loading the dishwasher with more of them (and down at her level, no less), it’s easy to see why she thought the first tasting signaled the beginning of the buffet, not the end. To re-train her, put her on leash and place one plate in the dishwasher. When she lunges for it, stop her with the leash while saying “Ah-ah”. The failure to reach the plate coupled with the verbal command will no doubt cause her to stop dead in her tracks and look at you. That’s your cue to say “Good girl” and immediately give her a treat that you’ve hidden in your pocket (deli turkey, anyone?). In a fairly short amount of time, your dog will realize that staying out of the dishwasher pays better than jumping into it. Additionally, if you happen to have a solid “down/wait” command, the time to put it to use would be while you’re loading the dishwasher. Remember that if you allow her to revert to her old habit before she’s totally trained, you’ll never be able to truly stop the behavior. So, in the interest of training, if you can’t monitor her closely, put your husband in charge of the dirty dishes while you take the dog out for a walk.
Kathy Santo has spent her entire career as a dog trainer and handler, training dogs and winning over 500 obedience, agility and Canine Good Citizenship titles. Working with her own dogs, she has achieved every competitive obedience title the American Kennel Club (AKC) has offered and earned the prestigious AKC “Obedience Trial Champion” title (OTCh) multiple times.
In Ramsey, Kathy teaches classes, private lessons, and oversees the training of her student’s dogs using her extensive knowledge, experience and intuition to handle problems from the benign to the serious. Her engaging personality has won her the respect and friendship of her many students, who now consider themselves part of her extended family.