Dogs are wonderful pets, but now and again a naughty streak takes the upper hand and they misbehave. One of the most common types of misbehaviour is begging for food at the table. Sound familiar? We’ve asked Genny, the trainer at the Wolfspirit canine centre for advice on how to handle this particular problem.
Dogs are very persuasive creatures, their languid eyes practically force us to give them something from our plates even when their own bowls are full. You’ve seen it happen: they sit down sweetly next to us while we dine, first a paw push or three, then a cute little snout presses into our knee, maybe it even rests on the table top… well, this type of behaviour cannot be permitted, a scolding is in order!
There are tricks you can use to gradually correct this inappropriate behaviour, ways to manage a dog that constantly seeks food from the table we are dining on. Here is Genny’s advice!
How to teach a dog not to beg for food at the table
The first step is prevention: never give your dog food from the dinner table and don’t ever let it beg. Food should be a “super treat,” not just part of a daily routine.
If the dog jumps on you asking for food, move out of the way so that no contact is made and all 4 paws are back on the ground again. If he barks for food, look the other way and, if that doesn’t work, turn your back to him and ignore him completely. Do not look at him, touch him nor scold him because even negative attention may reinforce the behaviour we are trying to eliminate.
Before sitting down to dinner, take the dog into another room, to his bed, and tell him to lie down in it. When he obeys your order, reward him with a treat right there in his bed. This is to get him to understand that the dinner table is not where he will get fed.
Do this every day, be firm and consistent. Do it for his health and education. Imagine how embarrassing it is when you have guests over for a meal, or how bad it is for Rex to be eating the salty and spicy food we humans so enjoy.
A useful tip on how to correct inappropriate behaviour
Dogs are not machines; it takes time for them to learn new behaviours. You have to be consistent and persistent in your training. This means that every member of the household has to follow the rules, including houseguests! There can be no exceptions, no special days, no Christmases or Easters, no birthdays or other celebrations – because all it takes is one slip and all your efforts will have been in vain!