This is a common complaint that I often hear, one that is usually created by the people themselves.
Dogs exist on a survival level, more so than we humans do these days. We have left the cave, but many dogs still have a paw in the past. Simply put, if Phydo doesn’t eat, he thinks he could starve. Simple and basic. This means that food is very important to your dog.
So how does this begging start?
1- Somebody paid attention to the dog when he was near the table. “Go away!”
That’s still attention (although negative) and tells the dog to go back and try it again. You know, “blah, blah, blah.” In dog language it means, “Go back and somebody is going to pay some attention to you.”
2- The dog has been given no alternative place or behavior to go to or do during your mealtime, and is happiest under your table. (This can become a dual problem.)
3- Someone feeds bits of table food to Phydo under the table. Yes, that ’s why they call it table food. “Oh, but he’s so cute!”
4- Food is spilled or dropped on the floor during your meal, or you have a toddler or a softie like my husband sneaking him food.
So where is the dog going to go next time he’s out when you’re eating? That’s right, back to the source of reinforcement - your table area.
DO DOGS REMEMBER?
Of course, they do. Some better than others. Feed him once at the table and he will be back for more . . . even at your next meal. And then the day after - whenever he can get his nose close to that table. That’s when the people start complaining, yelling, etc., and before you know it, it’s a three-ringed circus. Dogs learn fast. And the more you pay attention to the whining or barking or whatever you don’t like - the harder and louder they’ll do it.
In lieu of such a display, why not teach your dog an alternative behavior?
1- To be in his crate to enjoy a bone or chewy stick until you’ve eaten and cleaned up the dishes.
2- To stay behind a gate where he can quietly enjoy a nice gooey-filled Kong.
3 - To go to his or her “place” on a mat across the room but within sight of you, but definitely not next to the table. (This requires training.)
Giving food bits to your dog from your plate regularly - if you are one of those who likes to sit in front of the tv - is not wise. It can easily encourage a guarding situation.
If your puppy is acting ravenous, it could be that he’s still HUNGRY! He might need a larger breakfast and supper due to a growth spurt. Remember, the chart on that dog food bag is just a guide. Dogs of every size have growth spurts.
Your dog will usually always go to the source of reinforcement. In other words, where the treats /food rewards are. If your pup blows your efforts off, the value of your food rewards aren’t high enough value in his eyes.
Best to start your dog’s training early, but do stay away from trying to correct your dog. Reward your pup for doing what’s RIGHT. Ignore the undesirable. Yes, that’s right - ignore it, but first set your dog up for success. And try not to let the problem repeat itself.