Every meal you bake, every snack you make… someone’s watching you with those big puppy-dog eyes. While some people do not mind if their dog begs at the table, it can be a problem if your dog is barking, pawing at your leg, or annoying your guests.
As your dog’s guardian, it’s up to you to decide what kind of behavior is acceptable, and what is not. If you take the time to train your dog to stop begging at the table, you’ll be rewarded with a well-mannered dog that will be sure to impress anyone who eats at your home. You’ll also be able to finally eat in peace, while lowering your dog’s risk of obesity.
Why Dogs Start Begging at the Table
Dogs, like all animals, continue behaviors that they find rewarding. If you are not feeding your dog scraps under the table, someone else in your household may be doing it. Often, begging is much more of a human training challenge. This is especially true if you have small children who love to share.
You and your family members need to refrain from giving the dog food or attention during meals. If you make eye contact with your dog, or talk to them, even if you’re actually reprimanding them, your dog can interpret this as a cue to continue waiting for a treat.
If you cannot train the humans in your household to stop giving your dog scraps, you will need to eliminate the opportunity for this to happen. If your dog continues to be rewarded for hanging out around the dinner table, it will be very difficult to get them to stop begging. You may need to keep your dog away from the table any time someone is eating.
Teaching Your Dog to Stay out of the Kitchen
You can train your dog to stay on a mat or in their crate during meals. You need to make it more rewarding for your dog to stay in their spot than to beg at the table. Try giving your dog a chew bone during meals, particularly when you are first beginning to train them, and when you have guests over, or when you are too busy to actively work on training.
You can use scraps from your meals as food rewards when your dog is obeying your boundaries. Stick to lean meats and fish, as fatty trims can cause acute pancreatitis. You can also set aside fruits, veggies, and small amounts of pasta or rice if your dog likes them. Onions, grapes, and raisins are toxic to dogs.
Your chosen boundary can be the doorway to your kitchen, or you can set an appropriate place like a bed or crate. If your dog steps out of the crate or across the doorway, simply guide them back into the appropriate spot. Only reward them when they are within the boundary. At first, your dog will only be able to keep away from the table for a few seconds. It may take a few weeks for your dog to reliably stay away on their own for the entire meal.
Set your dog up for success by rewarding them for staying away for just a few moments, at first. You may need to manage them with a baby gate or a leash for mistake-free learning. Clear communication and positive reinforcement are important for building a healthy relationship with your dog, and will make it easier for you to teach them to respect any boundary in the future.
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