For many indoor dogs, begging is a problem. Can you blame them? Dogs naturally gravitate toward food, just as people hang out in the kitchen when they are hungry. Dogs enjoy good-tasting food, especially if it has a pleasing aroma. However, begging is not only annoying, but unsafe as well.
Begging causes a number of problems. Everyone wants to sit down and enjoy meals instead of being watched by a drooling dog. Not only that, but begging can cause health and behavioral issues in dogs, including choking, obesity, anxiety and seizures, especially if the wrong foods are eaten
If you are tired of your dog’s annoying begging habits, there are two ways in which you can control them: by limiting access to the dinner table and by diverting your dog’s attention elsewhere.
Limiting access to the dinner table
You can keep dogs away from the table by not giving them any type of attention. Even negative attention, such as yelling, can cause dogs to continue begging, since this is considered reinforcement for them. The best thing you can do is ignore them, no matter how much or how loud they bark or whine. You should even avoid eye contact. Pretend that the dog is not there. Giving in only makes the problem worse, as they will only expect it again
Sometimes loud noises, such as hitting the table, stomping your feet or clapping your hands loudly, can startle dogs and get them to stop begging. However, you risk frightening them, which can cause them to fear you. Be careful with these methods, especially if your dog has anxiety problems.
Be consistent. Every time dogs beg at the table, put them in time-out. This can be a small room, an enclosed area or leashed to a couch or other furniture. The further away from the dinner table, the better. In any case, make sure that the time-out area is somewhere that is boring. This means no toys, chew or anything else they enjoy. You can put your dog in time-out for a few minutes at a time and then release. Continue the process each time begging occurs, whether it be through drooling, whining, barking, jumping or other behavior.
Diverting your dog’s attention
Keeping your dog busy while you are eating can prevent bad tableside manners. For example, you may want to keep your dog entertained with a favorite toy. A rawhide chew or a Kong toy filled with a treat can distract your dog while you and your family enjoy your meal.
Another way to distract dogs is to feed them dinner the same time you eat. You eat your food, and he eats his. He will be focusing on his food while you are eating, and he will not be so hungry by the time he is done with his food, reducing the chance of begging.
If your dog is crate-trained, you can put him in his crate while you eat. If he is not used to being confined, try putting him in another room while you eat.
Another trick to try is to take your dog for a walk or let him play outside before dinner time. He will be so tired that he will want to lie down and rest instead of begging. A tired dog behaves better than one that is hyperactive and full of energy.
Here are some tips to keep your training on track so you get desired results:
- Make sure everyone in the family and dinner guests understand that the dog is to get no food from the dinner table. A child giving your dog a piece of meat may ruin all the hard work you did up to that point.
- Never lay your hand on your dog for begging. Hitting your dog may cause him or fear you or lead to behavioral problems, such as aggression.
- Be patient. Do not expect overnight results. Many dogs are food-motivated, so it will take consistent training in order to stop the begging. You should see significant results within several weeks.