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Tip of the Month

2/27/2007 Begging for Food

If your dog is begging for food at the dinner table or in the kitchen while you’re cooking, you are probably already seeking a solution. You may or may not have already contacted your dog trainer, but either way, there are several steps that must be taken immediately to curb the behavior. Any and all feeding of your dog at the table must stop. The entire family must consistently ignore all of your dog’s begging behavior and every person in the house must adhere to the dog training plan. If your dog does not receive a reward for begging, the behavior will stop.

The trainer will likely advise you to give your dog a Nylabone (or another type of sturdy rubber chew toy, like an empty Kong) just before you sit down to eat. She must not be given the chance to begin begging. It’s a general rule of animal training that when your dog fixates on something else, such as chewing her bone, she is much less likely to bother you at the dinner table. However, if she ignores the toy or gets bored with it and persists in attempting to beg for food, further training tactics will be necessary.

Until your dog attains a decent level of obedience, you most likely won’t be able to trust her roaming freely through the house while you enjoy a meal. She may need to be put outside or in another room, or you can try putting her on a leash. Loop the handle of the leash under the leg of the couch or coffee table or wedge it in a doorway while you eat. Dog training properly calls for her to be tethered so that she is in sight but not able to reach the table. Verbally and physically praise your dog when she is lying or sitting quietly, but do not reward her with food until long after you’re done eating.

Remember to follow the advice of your animal trainer and never feed your dog while you are eating. While it may keep her busy for a few minutes while the family eats, she will most likely finish first and then come to beg. Also, it teaches her that dinner time for the family is dinner time for her, too. Her mealtime and yours should be considered separate occasions.

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