Why does your dog beg at the table?
Because he decided it’s a good place to be. His chances of getting a treat rise, in his mind, because he is closer to the food. Who wouldn’t want to be at the front of the line when great things might be had? And to a dog, whatever you are eating is REALLY great.
He also begs because sometimes people touch or pet him at the table. The humans can’t help it because he nuzzles them, practically putting his nose under their hands. And, he is so cute they can’t resist!
Or, he begs because people at the table talk to him or look at him. Maybe a few times they gave him some food.
Or, maybe he just wants to be around for when food falls to the floor and he gets to clean it up.
But…the biggest reason dog’s beg at the table is that they haven’t been taught where they should be instead.
Tips to Stop Begging
- Don’t feed your dog at the table.
- Don’t give your dog attention at the table – don’t pet, look at, or talk to him, even to correct him.
- Put your dog on a tether or in a crate or in another room while you eat.
- Teach your dog where he should be when you eat (Go To Place)
Teaching Place in the Dining Room
Get a bed or mat for the dog. This helps indicate the spot where you want him to lie down. Put it in a place where he can see the table but not so close that he might as well be begging. Do not put it somewhere where he will be worried about getting stepped upon.
Get about a dozen yummy pea sized treats. Remember, at the beginning of teaching a new behavior, you want to make an impression! Use lots of high value treats. I find that what works well for this drill is a little bit of people food, such as leftovers from last night’s chicken.
Put down the mat. Toss some yummy treats on it so that he starts walking on it and sniffing it. Do this a few times. Put the mat away.
A few minutes later, get the mat again. Put it down in that place. The dog will probably walk onto it to see what is there. When he does, tell him he’s a good boy and put a treat on the bed. Then lure him into a down on the bed and put a bunch of yummy treats, quickly one after another, in between his front paws. When he is done eating the treats, pick up the mat. Repeat a few minutes later and do this a bunch of times.
Next time, put treats down the mat and tell you dog to go to his place. Give him some treats and walk away a couple of steps then go back to him before he gets up and put some more treats between his paws.
Next, get a bunch of yummy treats. Lure him to his mat. Get him into a down on his mat. In rapid succession put a few treats between his paws when he lies down on his mat.
When he is done eating the treats tell him“free,” to let him know he can get up. When he does, take the mat away.
Then try this when people are at the table. Bring the mat back and put it down. Hopefully he will go to it and stay there for a bit. Every minute or two when he is on his mat someone should get up from the table and drop a yummy between his paws on the bed.
Gradually, after you have practiced this a few times, decrease the frequency of putting treats on his bed.
Over the next few days as your dog gets better at better at staying on his mat he will stay on his bed until dinner is over. I usually like to feed my dog after we humans have eaten. I add a little yummy from the human dinner to his bowl for being good all through dinner. The dog gradually learns to wait on his mat for dinner after you eat.
What do you do if the dog leaves his bed and comes to sniff around the table? Walk towards him and use your body to herd him back to his bed. If he is sniffing under the table, gently move chairs around so it’s not a great place to be. Have people extend their feet so that its crowded and unpleasant under the table. If you need to, gently lead the dog back to his mat. Don’t give him a treat right away, but if he lies down tell him he is good, then wait several seconds and give him something.
Remember to try to tell him when he is free to leave his mat with a consistent release word like “free.”
You will do better with this if you can be consistent about keeping food or crumbs off the floor. Remember to be steadfast in keeping people from giving your dog any attention or food at the table.