How to Train Your Dog to Not Beg at the Table

Easy
3-14 Days
Behavior

Introduction

You’ve finally managed to get the whole family to the table for a meal--you’ve found an hour where you can sit and bicker amongst yourselves while you eat. Adding to the chaos that comes with a family meal, is your dog that subtly makes its way round each family member begging for food. He is probably smart too, he has his targets, he knows who’s most likely to give up the odd mouthful or two. His first port of call is probably going to be your fussiest child, they’re a sure thing.

While having your dog begging can often be humorous and cute, it also gets rather annoying. You have already fed him and you don’t want him piling on the extra pounds because he gets two dinners every evening. Training him not to beg will afford you a peaceful and relaxing meal, where everyone eats their food, vegetables and all!

Defining Tasks

Training your dog not to beg will involve a number of different behaviors. You need to be prepared to ignore him, no matter how adorable he looks. Ironically, you will need to be ready to incentivize him with food (just not at the table). It will also involve using verbal commands to send him away from the table.

This is all important so you can have a relaxing, humans-only meal at the table. It will also ensure all of your family eat their greens, there’ll be nowhere to hide them now!

The command itself is relatively easy to train, but it will be easier and quicker to train into puppies, as opposed to older dogs, who are already set in their ways. With a receptive dog, you could have the begging behavior trained out of him in just several days, more stubborn dogs may need a couple of weeks to get the hang of it.

Getting Started

Before you get going with your training you’re going to need a few things. First, you’re going to need treats or his favorite food, to incentivize him to stay in his bed and wait for you to finish eating. Perhaps more tricky though, you’re going to need a pep talk with the family to tell them strictly no more feeding, from now on they need to ignore him at all times during meals

Apart from that, just come armed with a ‘can do’ attitude and a good degree of patience. Now you’re all ready, it’s time to get to work!

The ‘Bed’ Method

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Step
1
‘Bed’
The first step is to train him to go to his bed when a meal starts. So at a quiet point in the day, free from distractions, start in the same room as him and firmly say "bed" and point in the direction of his bed.
Step
2
Encourage him
This may entail physically walking with him to the bed. You may also need to hold his collar to usher him along the way.
Step
3
Reward
Once he gets to his bed, reward him with a treat. It is important he is quickly praised and rewarded. This positive reinforcement and the promise of food will speed up the learning process.
Step
4
Practice
Practice this training several times daily before a meal time. Keep practicing sending him to his bed for 10-15 minutes a day. Do this until he knows to walk to his bed without you having to help him there. Then slowly cut down on the frequency of treats, until he will go to his bed without the promise of food.
Step
5
Dinner trial
Time to trial it at dinner. As soon as you serve dinner, instruct him to go to his bed. If he gets back up and comes to you at the table, calmly instruct him back to his bed and walk him to it if needs be. Repeat this as many times as necessary throughout the dinner. Be sure to then reward him at the end, but do not reward him every time he goes back to his bed.
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The Cold Shoulder Method

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Step
1
Stop
Stop feeding him wherever you are in the house. That means no feeding him leftovers when you’re on the sofa and no dropping him odd bits while you’re cooking. The only time he is going to get food, is when it is in his bowl.
Step
2
Cold shoulder at the table
Give him the cold shoulder when you are at the table. Not only do you need to not feed him at the table, but you also need to pretend as if he isn’t there. Don’t pet him, talk to him, or give him any attention. By ignoring him at the table and refusing to feed him when he begs around the house, he will quickly associate food with just his bowl and past memories of food from the table will soon fade.
Step
3
Feed him
Feed him just before your dinner. If you can feed him then, he shouldn’t feel quite the same craving for food. So 10 minutes before your meal, feed him his (from his bowl, of course). Then while you are eating your dinner, he will hopefully be lying down and digesting his food.
Step
4
Reward
Time to reward him for good behavior. By the time dinner has finished, having been ignored for so long, he will probably have given up begging and gone to lie down. Go over to him, praise him and play with him to show him if he is lying down away from the table you will come to him. This will reinforce that food and attention is on your terms, you are the pack leader and you are in control.
Step
5
Patience
Be persistent and be patient. The hard part of this training is being consistent. He will of course look irresistible when he’s begging for food, but you need to persevere with the training until the begging behavior stops all together. Even if it takes a couple of weeks, stay strong and ignore him at the table, plus ensure the only food they get is from his bowl!
Recommend training method?

The Sit & Stay Method

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Step
1
'Sit'
Training him to sit and stay during a meal will afford you peace and quiet not just at the dinner table, but when you want privacy to watch a movie or have a few glasses of wine with friends. First though, you need to train him to sit. Take a treat, hold it in front of his face, and firmly say "sit’".
Step
2
Lead him
Slowly rotate your hand back over his head. As soon as you’ve given the command, move your hand back, so that his head follows it and he is finally forced to sit down to try and reach it. You can also gently push his bottom down to encourage him. As soon as he has sat down, be sure to praise and reward him with a treat. Keep practicing this until you no longer need a treat to get him to sit.
Step
3
'Stay'
Now it’s time to teach him to stay so you can get some well-deserved peace and quiet at the table. Command him to ‘sit’, then once he’s sat, hold a treat in front of him, say "stay’"and slowly take a step back. Then call him over and reward him with the treat and praise.
Step
4
Increase the distance
Slowly increase the number of steps. As he learns the command, slowly start taking more and more steps back before giving him the treat. Keep this up until you can sit down and leave him waiting for several minutes. Then slowly reduce the number of treats you give him and just verbally praise him and play with him afterwards.
Step
5
Dinner time
Before you take the food to the table, have him sit away from the table and instruct him to 'stay'. Once he has sat and is waiting, you can go and have your dinner. If he gets up, take him back over and instruct him to wait again. At the end of dinner, reward him and praise him to reinforce the good behavior. Keep up this training for as long as it takes to break his begging habit.
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Success Stories and Training Questions

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