Dog begging at the table
You sit down at the table to enjoy a delicious meal with the family. As you begin to converse and discuss everyone’s day, you are interrupted by Grace, the family dog’s constant whining, barking, and pawing for just a morsel of your food. At first when she was a puppy you thought this was cute. You couldn’t resist those cute puppy eyes that looked up at you while you ate. So, you shared a bite or two with her. Your kids seeing it was okay, would share their food as well, especially the stuff they didn’t want to eat! Soon, Grace came to expect it and became increasingly demanding for her share of the family meals. Now you are second guessing that initial impulse to give her that little tidbit of food, especially now that you have seen you have created a monster! Guess what? It’s not too late to retrain her. To stop the excessive drooling over your food and change her behavior, you have one of two tactics to choose from:
Prevent the Problem Management is often the easiest way to solve a problem. In other words, prevent the problem from happening in the first place. One option is to put up a baby gate and confine your dog to a room when you sit down to eat a meal. Or, if your dog is crate trained, you can put her in the crate while you eat. (Please see our article on Crate Training to learn how to teach your dog to be relaxed in a crate.) If you prefer your dog to stay in the same room as you, use a tether or short leash to keep her in her own space. Attach a short leash or tether (about 4 feet long) to a heavy piece of furniture or eye-hook in your baseboard. (You can buy a tether from us.) Put your dog’s bed there. Before sitting down to eat, lead your dog to her comfy spot and tether to her to the collar. Then give her something to chew on like a Bully Stick or Stuffed KONG. After you finish your meal, you can release her from the tether.
Teach Your Dog to Go to Her Spot and Stay If you rather your dog not be restrained and you have the time to work on behaviors, teach your dog the Place command. The Place command is an extended stay command on your dog’s favorite bed or pillow. The command teaches your dog to “settle” or “go to bed” and to stay there until given a release word. While in the Place command, your dog can move around, scratch, chew a bone, just not leave the bed on which your dog is laying on. This command has multiple uses: it is great for when company comes over and you would like your dog to not jump on your guests, or if you take your dog somewhere you can bring the bed along and ask your dog to “Place” or “Settle” wherever you lay the bed down. For more information on teaching your dog the Place command, please see our article on “Teaching your Dog Place”. To make this training successful, as always you must be consistent! And, from this point on: