We have articles on picky eaters and anorexia among dogs, but if you have a happy go lucky puppy at home, you know the case is often reversed. Most dogs love food and they often love the same food as we do. As a result, they throw the ‘poor-pup’ look every time we sit for a meal. Of course, prevention is better than cure and we’re sure you are tired of hearing, ‘well you shouldn’t have fed them off the table in the first place.’ But we’ll spare you that, you can thank us later. Some dogs found a home much later into their puppy years or were fostered and re-homed well into their adulthood. This gave them ample opportunities to pick up a bad habit. Now that they have this dreadful habit, let’s look at ways to stop them from begging for table scraps and turn them to well mannered pups during meal times.
Create a Barrier During Meal Times
Though this is not the best method as it does not teach your dog anything there are some reasons why you should consider doing it:
- You have an overly persistent dog who just won’t let you eat
- You have a powerful dog who can simply knock over chairs or tables to get food
- You have children and a big dog living in the same environment – if your dog easily over powers your children it is a good idea to separate them during meal times
The barrier method is simple. All you have to do is keep them away from you during meal times. You can do this by putting them in a separate room, leash them, set up a fence panel etc. Remember, you are not punishing them during meal times. So, make sure they have access to toys and maybe even treat puzzles, like the kong toy, while you’re away eating your lunch. If they are hooked on to a leash, make sure they are under super vision so that they don’t tangle or choke on it.
Training During Meal Times
Though the barrier method is effective, it does not solve the problem. Training has many benefits, every table manner you teach them can come handy when you have friends over and you want your dog to leave your friends alone. Training is effective because if you can teach your dog to be calm around food you don’t need external objects to keep them in place. You, your food and your dog can co-exist in one room! So, trust us when we say this but teaching your dog good table manners will reward you in many ways. There are many ways to do it, here are a few:
Say No To Begging For Table Scraps
Of course, the simplest way to stop obnoxious begging is by not entertaining it. Yes, we know, this is better said that done. When those cute innocent eyes start their trick nothing can stop us from dropping a piece for them. They are well fed and you know it. The innocent begging face is an act! Look away if you have to but don’t fall for it. Ignore them even if they keep a paw or their head on your lap. Ignore them completely. You may be tempted to shoo them or yell ‘back off,’ but negative attention is still attention. So instead, ignore them completely.
Alone Time – The New Reward For Begging
If they don’t take no for an answer and start pawing, biting, whining, etc, take them in a separate room for a few minutes. This is not a same as creating a barrier because alone time will teach them that whining, and begging will only result to boredom. So, don’t give them any toys or treats during alone time and don’t keep them alone for more than five minutes. Bring them after some time and if they start whining again, take them away for alone time once again. They will soon learn that begging does not give them anything good.
With the time out technique, you must workout a balance. Do not leave them alone for too long and don’t put them for a time out as soon as they lick their lips or something else that is quite minor. It is more a way of communication than punishment.
One of the most famous dog whisperer, Cesar Millan has talked a lot about poor table manners in his videos and blog. His technique is similar to what we have already mentioned. He says that by ignoring them completely they start to understand that there is no positive outcome from begging.
However, we can work a balance between good table manners and still share dog safe human food from time to time. It is all about how you feed them and when. If you don’t want them to beg on the kitchen counter, or the dinning table don’t give them any food there. Instead, put the snack in their bowl or toss it away from you. This will teach them that the only way they will get anything is by being far and away from you.
The time you treat them is also very important. Don’t give them a bite if they are barking and begging, rather toss them food when they are relaxed. This will teach them that they are only rewarded if they are calm and well mannered.
Zak George is a well-known trainer of the recent years. And his training method is all about getting them to want to do something. Because ideally you want to enjoy your meal without having to restrain your dog in another room right? To teach them to relax during meal times, you first have to make sure your dog is not hungry and also a little tired. So, feed them and wait an hour before you work them out. If they are a very active dog, make sure they have a good run before coming back home.
This is when you should sit for a meal. When they are tired they are far more likely to listen to you. Keep them in a lay down position before you bring your meal. If your dog comes to you for a taste, simply put them back in a lay position far from you and get back to eating. This is easier to teach if your dog already knows how to lay down and may still take a few weeks to months to teach them to relax around food. Training does not stop when you are with friends or having breakfast by the beach with your dog. Every new environment is a new opportunity for training.
If we don’t handle begging at the right time, we can unleash a, obnoxious canine begging monster and that’s no fun. The above methods are effective when it comes to putting a stop to this bad habit. More often than not, you may have to combine these techniques to see some improvement. For instance, you may have to create a barrier between you and your dog when you sit to eat, because they are too big or hard to control. But while you create a barrier, you should use other times to practice on ‘sit’, ‘stay’ and ‘leave it’. As they get better at that you may practice having them sit with you during meal times but call ‘time out’ when they get out of hand. When they start learning that begging is bad, you start teaching them to stay calm around food and re-direct them too ‘good’ behaviour. It takes time and dedication but it is worth it! So, if you have too much on your plate, take it one at a time and you’re bound to see success!