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Scruffy’s Easter Egg Disaster: A Case for Training Dogs to Sit Politely Instead of Counter-Surfing

Posted December 18, 2014 in Dog Toxins & Poisons

Little dog looking up

Dr. Sophia Yin teaches some important lessons when it comes to training your dog to leave unattended food alone. For more from Dr. Yin, find her on Facebook or at!

For most pet parents, having a dog that’s well-trained would be nice but doesn’t seem like a necessity. This is especially if the dog spends most of his time in familiar places—such as the home, or the yard, or just on short walks in the neighborhood. He may be so used to the scene that he never gets excited enough or distracted enough to be bothersome. But it turns out that you can’t count on life being so mundane. One family found this out the expensive way when their holiday house plan went awry. 

It was Easter Sunday and Scruffy the scrappy fox terrier was having a good day. His family and a few familiar friends were over for some fun, kid-friendly festivities. Now Scruffy likes kids a little and was always happy to see his friends, but what he was really looking for was a chance at something else. An hour or so into the visit he saw his big break. In their haste to hide the Easter eggs and prepare the entertainment, someone had left an Easter basket filled with candy on the coffee table. As the kids carried their own baskets around in search of egg-shaped surprises, Scruffy eyed his low-lying feast. And then the moment all eyes were elsewhere, he inconspicuously plucked his sweet surprises.

It was a savvy heist except for one thing: too many clues. After a couple of hours of fun for the human families, someone finally spied something amiss. Scruffy was no longer a part of the party scene and a trail of scrunched aluminum foil leading from the Easter basket to his kennel told them why. A quick Easter basket check confirmed their fears. There was definitely some missed chocolate eggs! They tossed Scruffy into the car and shuttled him to the hospital.

Not everyone knows it, but chocolate can kill a dog. Oh, sure, a couch-sized mastiff can eat a batch of brownies, no problem. But mix just one chocolate bar with one Chihuahua, and within hours you'll get an explosion of bouncing off every wall in the house, or worse, the tiny terror will succumb to seizures or a coma. And that's just with milk chocolate. A

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Sophia had several years of experience as a veterinarian, applied animal behaviorist and author. She was also a founding member of IDEXX’s Pet Health Network team.