Tip 84 – Dog begs for food – begging at the table
Nothing is cuter than a puppy-dog, a full grown dog or even certain cats that look at you while you are eating. They seem to use their ESP powers to try and convince you to give them a morsel of food. Their eyes take on a look of innocence that is very hard to resist. Just one piece of meat, one piece of cheese, it makes them soooo happy. Although you may think you are being kind to the dog by feeding it during human mealtime, you are making a big mistake.
By giving in to a begging dog you are setting yourself up for YEARS of this repetitive behaviour. The first few times it’s cute, but eventually it can get downright annoying. The first few times they look at you tenderly and you give in. When you stop giving in, the tender looks can quickly turn into crying, whimpering, barking, pawing, jumping and other attention seeking behaviours. It’s hard to enjoy your food with a constant whining dog at the table. If you NEVER give in, this behaviour should never be a problem. Dogs are very persistent so never means never. It does not mean 1 time in 100 since they will remember that 1 time and the begging behaviour will continue. Make sure all family members and guests follow the rules.
Of course, there is also the food quality factor. MANY human foods are simply not good for dogs. Many human foods can cause harm to dogs, especially in the long term and some can cause health problems even in the short term. Many dogs will eat almost anything, but that does NOT mean that the food you fed it was healthy for dogs. Obesity in domestic pets is a worldwide problem and by giving them your table food (unless you have done serious research, talked with your vet etc.) you are contributing to possible health issues.
Perhaps the most important reason not to give in to a begging dog has to do with its rank. Dogs are pack animals by nature, and dogs that live with humans see their human family as a pack. The pack has its hierarchy and it has only one leader (the Alpha). When your dog eats, relative to when your human family eats, is an important factor in the dog’s mind to establishing its rank or place within the pack. Dogs that don’t know their place (which should ALWAYS be last place in terms of their rank in your household) may exhibit begging behaviours in order to eat before or while certain family members are eating. Feeding your dog table food at this time, can cause the dog to feel like it is moving up in rank. Sometimes this behaviour, if left unchecked, can escalate to include threatening behaviours like growling. This is why the dog should ALWAYS ALWAYS be fed last. The best idea would be to feed the dog after the dishes have been put away. Basic training will go a long way to help in this situation as the dog can be told to sit or lie down during the meal. If the dog has not been properly trained, keep the dog in another room until the meal is completely over. Then according to the dog’s feeding schedule, feed the dog or reward the dog with a treat for its good quiet behaviour.
Remember – A dog that begs at the table may well be trying to move up in rank, since the top dog eats first and the lowest member eats last.