If you don’t want to confine your dog in an area away from the table or use a tether to restrain her, you can teach her to go to a designated spot, usually a bed or a mat, and stay there. This skill can be useful in a variety of other situations, too. If you’re watching a movie with friends and you’d like your dog to occupy herself for a while, you can ask her to go to her spot and chew a bone. If your dog jumps up on people when they come to the door, you can ask her to go to her spot whenever the doorbell rings and wait there to greet visitors. If you take your dog somewhere with you, you can bring her bed or mat and have her settle on it when you need her to be calm and quiet.
Additional Tips and Troubleshooting
If you don’t want your dog to beg at the table, don’t give her tidbits from your plate. If she sometimes scores a delicious morsel when she barks, whines and stares at you while you eat, she’ll diligently try those tactics whenever you sit down for a meal.
Some people worry that feeding their dogs “people food” (anything except dog food and treats made for dogs) will encourage begging at the table. But when teaching a dog new skills or treating certain behavior problems, using high-value treats, like small pieces of chicken, cheese or hotdog, can accelerate the training or treatment process. Luckily, dogs can learn very specific rules. It’s okay to give your dog foods you eat, too. Just avoid feeding her from the table so she learns that she never gets anything in that context.
If your dog asks for handouts by barking or whining when you eat, please see our articles on Barking and Whining for additional help.
Avoid yelling at your dog if she begs at the table or barks for food while you’re eating. Giving her attention of any kind-even if it’s negative attention-might actually convince her to keep begging. Instead, try giving your dog a time-out. Before you sit down to eat, attach a lightweight leash to her collar. Let the leash drag on the floor. The instant your dog barks or starts to whine, quickly take hold of her leash and lead her to a time-out area. (A dog-proofed room of any kind will work fine. Just make sure there’s nothing fun in the area-no toys, no chews, no people to play with. Time-out should be entirely boring.) When you get to the time-out area, tether your dog to a heavy piece of furniture or use a baby gate to confine her. Then go back to the table. After a minute or two, you can release your dog from the time-out area. Repeat this procedure every time your dog starts to whine or bark for food. If you’re consistent, she’ll learn that begging results in banishment-far away from the thing she wants most!
WebMD Veterinary Reference from ASPCA Virtual Pet Behaviorist
The ASPCA Virtual Pet Behaviorist specializes in the resolution and management of pet behavior problems only. Please do not submit questions about medical problems here. Only licensed veterinarians can diagnose medical conditions. If you think that your pet is sick, injured or experiencing any kind of physical distress, please contact his veterinarian immediately. A delay in seeking proper veterinary care may worsen your pet's condition and put his life at risk.
If you are concerned about the cost of veterinary care, please read our resources on finding financial help.