Picture this. You are sitting down to the table with family and friends for Thanksgiving Dinner. Suddenly, conversation is cut short by a strong, powerful YAP! You look down, and there is your little dog, eyes luminescent with desire, letting you know in no uncertain terms it’s time to feed the dog.
How people respond to begging at the table varies. Some people find it cute. Others would rather their dog act as if that succulent turkey and tempting rolls don’t even exist. As long as you and your guests are not bothered by dinner time shenanigans, you don’t have to curb it—but if your dog begs at the table and you’d rather they didn’t, here are a few tips to help put a stop to the behavior.
Feed Your Dog First
Although dogs are constantly hungry, feeding your dog first may make him less inclined to beg. Where ever you feed him, make sure it is far away from the dining room table so he can’t both beg and eat his own food.
Your pup may still choose to beg—see the next paragraph for details on why—but feeding him may help make it easier to curb begging.
Your dog is begging because he wants a tasty treat. Dogs are very opportunistic, and they love to work for their food! In fact, one study showed that if given a choice between kibble left in a bowl, or kibble in a puzzle toy, dogs nearly always prefer the food in the puzzle.
It’s no wonder that dog’s like to beg. Not only is there always the chance someone might give them food, but you are the puzzle they are trying to solve with those soft eyes and cute poses.
The good news is that you know your dog is food motivated and willing to work if they’re begging at the table. If they’re willing to work, that means you can show them a more desirable behavior to do instead.
Whenever your dog is begging at the table, ask them to go to their “place” instead. This could be a mat or a bed nearby. Reward that behavior instead. (You can use their favorite treats instead.) If they don’t know this command, you can show them by tossing treats into the bed.
Once they figure out being in bed is what turns on the treat machine, they’ll be just as good at staying out of the way as they were begging.
Puppy Private Time
Another method to prevent begging at the table is to put your dog in a kennel or closed off room away from the table, with something constructive to do while they are in there. This is not a punishment, so it’s important to give the pup a “reason” in his mind why he is locked away.
Offer your pup a kong stuffed with canned food, a long-lasting chew, or other long lasting puzzle toy to keep him busy while you are eating.
Back to School
One final thing you can do to help curb begging is a bit more indirect. Working on basic obedience outside of dinner time can help your pup learn impulse control. When your pup has learned to sit whenever you say and not just when he feels like it, he’ll be more likely to listen when you ask him to leave the table.
A good “leave it” command is also useful for your puppy to learn, since if unsafe food is accidentally dropped from the table, you may be able to stop your dog from eating it.
Some people don’t mind if a dog begs at the table, others hate it. If you’re in the ‘hate it’ camp, these tips will help put an end to the behavior.
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