I'm hoping owners of other food-obsessed RRs may have some advice on how I can train and/or discipline my one-and-a-half-year-old RR, Leo, around food in public. Like other RRs, Leo is smart and sneaky and super food-motivated (to say the least). He's ALWAYS looking for food. My problem isn't with counter-surfing or food at home, he knows his limits there--though he will go for that too if he thinks he can get away with it. More serious is that he has unfortunately learned that strangers with food in public are easy targets.
We live in the middle of the city, and so we're frequently in public together, among crowds of people, walking by cafes, etc., and he smells all edibles long before I see them. After having succeeded a couple of times at moving very swiftly and snatching food out of people's hands immediately upon entering the dog park, he's become obsessed with food whenever we go out in public. I now only let him off-leash in situations where there isn't any food to be had and check everyone in the dog park's hands before letting him play. But even on leash, he'll walk perfectly alongside me until someone walks by with takeout and he'll try to lunge to grab it, startling me and sometimes terrifying the stranger and sometimes just making them laugh if i'm lucky. I can stop him from actually getting the food if he's on leash, but off-leash, he's impossibly fast.
I always discipline him but he couldn't care less about a time-out and scolding if an almond croissant or burrito is in question... We've done a few training drills and my boyfriend has disciplined him by flipping him onto his back to exert dominance. Leo definitely responds to that. Unfortunately I'm not physically capable of using that method, as I only have about 35 pounds on him. I'm really worried that Leo will hurt someone or frighten a child at some point over food. I'm thinking of getting a professional to help us with this. Any advice will be appreciated.
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