Most pet owners will tell you that they find it rather hard to restrict their dogs, especially small breeds, from begging at the dinner table. All owners have different rules and routines set in place for their animals and this all comes down to personal preference and attitude.
If you have had a few instances where you dog is scratching or jumping around the dining table while you are hosting guests, you might want to follow these steps to teach your dog better table side manners.
Step 1: Routine
The first and most important step to take is introducing a particular routine to your dog. Not only will this educate them in the steps that need to take place, but it will allow them a platform from which to base their discipline. Just like potty training formed part of the dog’s habits and routine, their dining discipline should as well.
Step 2: Be in Control
As with any pet training, it is crucial to show your dog that you are in control. Whatever you say goes and they cannot try and push limits and boundaries. By setting in rules and becoming accustomed to a routine your dog will come to respect you and your rules as long as you are consistent.
When you are showcasing your control over your dog at the dining table you should make no eye contact, show affection, reprimand or address your dog during this session. If they realize they are being completely ignored when showing certain behavior (such as begging), they will realize that it has no effect.
Don’t feel sorry for your dog when you are implementing these rules and limitations. As an owner you know that dog is properly fed and they aren’t truly hungry. This is what they want to you think by acting desperate or sweeter than usual. This manipulative behavior can become a problem in other aspects of your training if you don’t counter it.
Step 3: Sit down
Another step to implement in the training of your dog is to teach them to ‘sit down’. If they obey this command any time of the day, this will come in very handy during the tricky dinner times. If you have guests over and your pup is trying to push their luck you can just command them to ‘sit’ or ‘go to their bed’ that is situated nearby.
Step 4: Dinner Time
If it is in any way possible, try to coordinate the dinner times of the family and the pets. This way you furry friends won’t be too distracted with what you are eating and doing at the dining table. They might be done eating before you are, but try and restrict them from entering the dining area.
By no means should they feel unwanted and unloved, but it is just a clear way of showing them that you are having dinner and that it is only allowed for humans.
Keep in mind that you should never punish them if they do make the mistake of entering once or twice. Just get up politely and show them to a different room. Punishing them in front of guests will only confuse them and cause them to rebel.
Step 5: Dining Discipline (for humans)
If you don’t want create a dog that begs that the dining table, you should never give him/her food in this setting. Your dog might only show the desperate need for being fed at the table because you have allowed that in the past.
It is also necessary to educate the others members of the family and guests in your home that you have certain rules pertaining to your dog’s dinner table manners. All your efforts will be pointless if you partner is still secretly feeding your pup at the side of the table.
Step 6: Special Treat Time
The best way to show your pet that they have your approval is to praise them. You can do this by giving them a treat after they haven’t begged at a table during an entire dinner session. Remember to give this treat away from the dining table, otherwise this will be counterproductive and they would be under the impression that they ‘won’.
Photo by Eric Isselee.