'Please, sir! I want some more!' It’s kind of cute, but it can be a bit much….having your dog (or a guest dog if you’re a pet sitter) dribbling into your leg while you try to eat.
Dogs by nature are scavengers, so it’s totally natural that they will try their luck when they see their pet parent eating. And think of all those tempting smells coming from your plate….who wouldn’t want to swap dog biccies for your plate of mysterious deliciousness?
Like nearly every behavioural issue with dogs, starting off on the right paw is always easier than reprogramming. But fear not – here are four simple strategies to stop the whining, drooling and puppy-eyes.
Consistency is key, so whether you are a pet sitter or pet owner – discuss the following table rules and stick with them.
Never feed your pooch table scraps
We know it’s tempting to drop a scrap or two on the floor to stop your dog from the begging. But it just reinforces that you will reward your dog for the behaviour.
Your dog will soon learn that no reward ever came from clawing at people’s legs. Don’t feel guilty, despite the sad pupper eyes, because human table scraps can lead to pet obesity...so it’s really not a great idea to begin with.
Feed your dog at the same time
Before you sit down to dinner, whip out a chew toy or a kong (a puzzle will distract your dog for longer than their normal bowl of food). Your pup can happily chew away while you do too….ahh, happy family dinner!
Distance your dog
It’s simple, but it works. Don’t allow your dog to be in the same room when you eat – pop them in another room with their chew toy, or use a baby gate or leash for the meal (keep an eye on them if you do this! No dog should be leashed without supervision).
Have a special doggy-spot for meal-times
Create a consistent space that your dog stays when you eat dinner – perhaps a big cushion, blanket or basket. This can be the spot where they enjoy their chewy treat while you eat, and can double as a cosy spot where they sit, stay and wait when you have guests arriving or the postman knocks. Give your dog a treat for staying there for the whole meal.
Pet owners – tell your pet sitter about this special spot and make sure they know the rules for your pupper. You can even bring the cushion/blankie/basket over if your doggy is staying with the pet sitter.
Give your dog attention before dinner
For doggies, attention is as wonderful as food. The mere act of sitting and eating at your table will drive your dog as crazy as ignoring them would. So make time for a big walk before dinner, or for your dog walker to drop over in the afternoon before you eat. Playing fetch and having a sniff around outside will burn some of that begging energy and make for a more chilled-out pooch.
Never yell at your dog or lose your temper if they beg – aside from being pretty mean, this is also a form of attention….and although it’s negative, it may still prompt your dog to plead.
Is your dog a begger? What strategies do you use? Be sure to book a regular dog walker on Pawshake if you need a helping hand!