How to Stop Your Dog From Begging at the Table
Teach Your Dog to Go to Her Spot and Stay
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
- 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!