Most people with dogs understand that feeding their pup some people food off their plate—whether from their spot on the couch or the dinner table—isn’t a great idea. They also know that the more they do this, the more they enable their dog’s begging behavior.
Knowing that is one thing. Resisting your pooch’s begging eyes is something else completely. But if you happen to be hosting Thanksgiving this year, you probably don’t want your dog attempting to manipulate your guests into giving them morsels of meat or pieces of pie crust.
While every dog is different and responds to training in their own way, there are steps you can take now to curb their begging habit (or at least give it a try) ahead of Thanksgiving. Here’s what to know.
Training a puppy is one thing, but breaking a long-standing begging habit will take repeated training, according to the American Kennel Club (AKC). Here are a few of their tips:
- Practice ignoring your dog during smaller meals like breakfast and lunch
- Don’t acknowledge or react to your dog (positively or negatively) while you’re sitting at the table
- If your dog makes it through a meal without begging, reward their positive behavior after mealtime is finished
- Give your dog something they enjoy and will hold their attention during mealtime, like an interactive toy or a bully stick (aka a bull penis)
- If your dog understands basic commands like “sit,” stay,” and “leave it,” use them during mealtime to keep your dog away from the table, and out of begging distance
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The experts at the AKC do warn that your dog’s begging behavior may get worse before it gets better, noting: “When a ploy works for dogs and suddenly stops, they actually try harder before they eventually give up.” The key to successfully training your dog, the AKC says, is to keep up with it—even through a potential rough patch—because they’ll learn (eventually).