Why do dogs beg for food? Begging is a learned behavior. The dog begs for food while you are eating and you give it to them. From this the dog has learned that begging works for them and it only takes one time for it to become a habit. In a dog’s pack mentality the pack leader will eat first. So by allowing the dog to beg and giving in you may also be lowering your place in the pack and weakening your alpha role. You may even putting the dog on the same level as you which is not what you want to do.
How many of us has had this scenario play over night after night. You get dinner ready and call the family to the table. Not only do you get the human family members but the canine family members as well to take their place at the table. Or you sit on the sofa to enjoy a sandwich or other edible with your favorite TV show and the dog is there hovering over your food staring and waiting for the opportune time to either take or be offered a bite.
Many of us teach our dog to beg because it’s cute and it’s probably one of the first tricks that we try to teach them. However, when it becomes excessive, especially when company is over for dinner it’s time to put it to a stop. Of course, not encourage the behavior to begin with is the easiest thing to do since if we encourage it in the beginning and then decide it’s not a behavior we want to dog to exhibit we send confusing and conflicting signals to the dog which could be hard to understand.Teach the dog that the dining room or eating area is off limits during meal time. You can do that by put your dog in his/her crate when dinner is announced and leaving him/her there until the meal is over. Doing this consistently the dog may even eventually go to the crate by themselves when dinner is announced.
Something else to you could try is ignore the dog when he attempts to beg for food. Dogs do not necessarily differentiate between good or bad attention so if by any acknowledgment teaches the dog that the behavior stands the possibility of getting what they want. As pack leader by ignoring the staring or hovering you are asserting your authority and the dog learns that they have nothing to gain and will move on to something else.
If having the dog in the dining room or eating area during the meal isn’t a problem for the family another method you could use is once a dog has the handle on a couple basic command like “down” put the dog in an extended “down”. Then after you are done if you want to give some that is left put the leftover in their bowl. Never let them have it directly from your plate and never at the table.