If there’s two things that go hand-in-hand, it’s dogs and begging at the table.
Dogs love food just as much as, maybe even more than, people do. Therefore, they will always jump at the opportunity to have some, which more often than not results in them sniffing and whining at your feet for a bite of what's on your plate.
This behavior can be annoying and in a perfect world dogs would allow their owners and their guests to eat in peace. Unfortunately, we do not live in a perfect world and the common way people fix behaviors in their pets that they do not like is by training them.
Training your dog to go to a designated spot and leave you alone may seem like the solution, but it can be time consuming and for some, unrealistic.
“The reality is that the expectation for dogs to know and understand that it’s not appropriate to beg at the table is just a misconception,” said Renée Erdman, a multi-credentialed dog behavior consultant and trainer. “It’s just like if you went to a restaurant and everybody is eating and we could only have a glass of water, or nothing for example, we’re going to have FOMO or want what’s available.”
Fortunately, wanting your dog to stop begging at the table is not unrealistic and can be achieved without any training. To do so Erdman has two words for you, “prevention management.”
This is the first thing you want to look at whenever your dog displays a behavior you want to change, because you want to prevent the practice of that behavior before it grows stronger, Erdman says.
Prevention management to get your dog to stop begging at the table is as easy as:
- Set them up in a separate area
- Give them something to enjoy at the same time
- Enjoy your meal all to yourself
Dogs are animals and they are going to be interested in what humans are eating, especially if they are only getting one or two bowls of boring, plain kibble a day.
Putting your dog in another room or behind a baby gate is the first step to get them away from where you’ll be eating, but that alone is not enough. It’s important that in addition to the prevention method you provide something to compete with that fear of missing out (FOMO). Dogs will be happy to be engaged with something like a maze feeder or snuffle mat while you cook or eat.
Erdman also suggests dog owners think about how much variety their dog is getting in their diet. If they only get kibble meals, of course they’ll want something different.
“That is why I really recommend giving your dog a variety of dog-safe foods for their meals...then treats aren’t like oh my god because they don’t get them very often for example,” says Erdman.
Discuss with your veterinarian how much to feed your dog in a day to make sure they are getting the proper calorie intake. When you know that you can then divide their meals throughout the day so they have more opportunities to not look for food in the house.
Remember it's tough being a dog, humans control every meal they get so it’s better to make sure they don’t feel deprived. “Deprivation is not the answer. Deprivation equals or leads to what? Obsession,” says Erdman.
In other words, if you put a dog on a low-carb diet, they are going to want carbs!