The Pet Tree House - Where Pets Are Family Too : Tips on How to Stop Your Dog from Begging for Table Food

Friday, May 1, 2015

Tips on How to Stop Your Dog from Begging for Table Food

Our dogs are social creatures and love to eat.  So, when your family gathers for dinner, there’s nothing more that combines a dog’s dual love of being social and eating your food!  However, even though your dog want to join you in the festivities, there's nothing fun or amusing about a dinner dominated by whining and pawing from under the table.  And if this bother you, it is better to get the ‘table begging’ under control sooner rather than later.

Table begging can be harmful to your dogs

Table begging is more than just an annoyance.  It can be potentially harmful to your dog. Dogs who are frequently fed at the table can suffer any of the following problems:

Obesity, choking on bones, hyperactivity and anxiety and even seizures: A possible result if chocolate, which contains theobromine, is consumed, and bad behavior.

Table begging needs to end before it begins

Dogs beg at the table because we let them and it only takes one time for the habit to begin. Unfortunately, attention-getting behaviors like begging don't have to be indulged often to become a bad habit. The most effective way to get a dog to stop begging at the table is to completely ignore him, a task that's often easier said than done. This means not talking to the animal or even making eye contact. By scolding your dog, it scares them and engages them. They might not understand the difference.

Teach your dog to go to specific spot when you eat dinner

Try teaching your dog to go to a designated spot, usually a bed or a mat, and stay there. This skill can be useful in a variety of other situations, too. If you’re watching a movie with friends and you’d like your dog to occupy herself for a while, you can ask her to go to her spot and chew a bone. If your dog jumps up on people when they come to the door, you can ask her to go to her spot whenever the doorbell rings and wait there to greet visitors. If you take your dog somewhere with you, you can bring her bed or mat and have her settle on it when you need her to be calm and quiet.  Leave a chew bone or toy there to keep your dog occupied and distracted.

Your dog’s table begging will get worse before it get better

Expect your dog's begging to get worse before it gets better. If whining at a low volume doesn't result in food, he'll think he isn't trying hard enough and turn it up and start howling. As unpleasant as this may be for a few days, stand firm. Eventually, your dog will realize that his efforts no longer work.

However, if you train your dog consistently, you should see positive results within several weeks. Consistency is the key. Even one tiny snack from the table here and there can erase everything you've worked so hard to achieve. Even the smallest morsel can turn a trained dog back to a begging dog!  And make sure all family members and dinner guests understand what you're doing and why you're doing it, so no one sneaks your dog a treat when they think you're not looking.

Here are a few more tips to stop your dog from begging:
  • Feed your dog at the same time you eat. If your dog is enjoying his own food, he can't beg for yours.
  • Give him something else to do. Try sticking some healthy treats stuffed in a few Kong toys so he'll have something to play with while you eat.
  • If your dog has been crate-trained, place him in his crate to prevent him from begging at the table. But, the goal is to have your dog nearby and not begging, so this would only be on a trial basis.
  • Take your dog for a long walk just before dinner. If the dog is worn out, the intensity of the begging behavior will decrease.  Tired dogs are better behaved dogs.
You can still feed your dog human food at the correct time

Some people worry that feeding their dogs’ human food (anything except dog food and treats made for dogs) will encourage begging at the table. But when teaching a dog new skills or treating certain behavior problems, using treats like small pieces of chicken, cheese or beef can accelerate the training process. Luckily, dogs can learn very specific rules. It’s okay to give your dog foods you eat, too. Just avoid feeding your dog from the table so your pup learns that she never gets human food in that context.

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