Teaching Your Dog Table Manners
By Hannah Stein
After a long day of cooking in a crowded kitchen, you and your loved ones finally sit down for your Thanksgiving feast. As you begin to cut a fresh piece of juicy turkey, you suddenly hear a slow, high pitched whine coming from under the table. As you try to ignore it, it starts to get louder and louder until it has become a full howl. You look down and realize it's your dog barking in a desperate plea for just one piece of that delicious turkey. It's impossible to focus on the wonderful dinner conversation over your dog's impolite begging, so what do you do? Place your dog in his crate? No, they will just bark from across the room. Stick your dog in another room? No, we do not want to leave them out of the fun. The best way to solve this problem is by teaching your dog some table manners.
To begin, let's remember why dogs whine and beg to begin with. In this situation, it is because they want attention and want something from you: food. How can we get our dogs to learn that whining and begging won't get them what they want?
1. Establish a Routine
Dogs are creatures of habit. By creating a regular feeding schedule (once a day, twice a day, three times of day), it will teach your dog what times they get to eat. This will decrease the dog's interest in eating your human food during times that are not his regular routine. Your pup's natural eating rhythm will, over time, be triggered to eat at the regularly set times.
2. Sync Your Eating
Keep your dog distracted during people meal times by feeding your pup at the same time you eat. Although they may finish their food first, this will keep them distracted. They will also learn to differentiate between their dog food and your human food. They will correlate people food with being for their owner and dog food with being for them.
3. Follow Through
Those puppy dog eyes are adorable! Don't give in to the cuteness! If you don't want your dog to beg for your food, you cannot encourage it by feeding them your people food. Feeding your dog people food when they beg only encourages this impolite behavior. It's hard, but demonstrate restraint by saying "no" or ignoring your dog as you eat.
4. Teach Your Dog to Go to Their Spot
Teach your dog to go to a designated spot, like a bed or mat, when you sit down to eat. First, take some treats and go to where your dog's bed is. Stand near the bed and say, "bed." Lure them with the treat into the bed until they have four paws on the bed. Give them a treat. Then, slowly increase the distance and time until they lay in bed and get a treat. Once they have the hang of it, use the trick at dinnertime and reduce the amount of treats used until treats are not needed.
5. Toss it
Can't help but feed your dog people food as you cook or eat? Try throwing the food across the room. No, not a food fight and no, not to make a mess. Offer a light toss for your athletic dog to catch. Over time, your dog will learn to stay ten feet back when you cook or eat because they are expecting it to be tossed from a distance to them.
Thanksgiving should be enjoyed my every member of the family. Enjoy time with family with a well behaved pup by following these training tips.
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References: Vet West, Whole Dog Journal
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