It’s hard to resist those puppy dog eyes, begging for a scrap of food from the dinner table.
Sure, it’s adorable at first—those big eyes, that cute face. How can you resist throwing him a bit of food from your dinner plate? But this can lead to the annoying behavior of begging at the table, no matter what the meal. How can you and your guests enjoy a meal when your dog is begging for something to eat?
Good news—this reinforced behavior in dogs can be fixed. Here’s how to stop your dog from begging at the table.
Why Do Dogs Beg at the Table?
There are a few reasons why your dog has camped out under the table. The most obvious one is that your dog is hungry or that he simply wants food—no big surprise there. Remember that your dog’s sense of smell is a lot stronger than yours—imagine how good your meal smells to him!
While this might be the simplest reason why your dog begs at the table, it’s usually a learned response. His puppy dog eyes are hypnotic and you may be tempted to give in and give him a tasty tidbit. But by giving in, you’re not doing him any favors. In fact, your teaching him some bad habits. He’s been taught that if he begs long enough, you’ll eventually give in because that’s the message you’re sending!
How Do You Stop Begging Behavior?
This bad habit is easy to make, and harder to break. But there is hope—you can correct this bad habit once it’s started. There are two schools of thought on how to deal with it. The first is to redirect the behavior—when it’s dinner time, give him something else to focus on. The second way is to ignore him, and to refuse to give him what he wants so he will stop exhibiting the behavior.
Here are some simple steps you can take to stop your dog from begging at the table:
Confine your dog another room while you eat dinner, so he can’t get to the table.
Try giving your dog a chew bone or another treat that will last the duration of the meal.
Use a tether or leash to keep your dog away from the table if you still want him in the same room.
Feed your dog his dinner right before you sit down to eat yours.
Don’t give in to your dog if he begs, just ignore him and wait for him to go away.
It doesn’t take long for your dog to learn how to beg at the table, but it’ll take some time to correct the behavior. Just like when you’re teaching your dog a new command, be firm and consistent if you want your dog to learn. And don’t go back on all your hard work—once you’ve busted the begging, don’t start feeding him from the table again!
Amy Tokic is the Editor of Petguide.com, the flagship site to over 70 different pet communities, which offers pet parents a one-stop-info-shop for all things dog and cat related. Amy's been with PetGuide since the beginning, guided by the wisdom of her Shih Tzu mix and furry roommate, Oscar. Together, this pet power couple has their paw on the pulse of the pet industry, sniffing out trends, advice, news, tasty treat recipes and other tail-wagging stories.