Isn't he "cute?" Sitting up on his haunches with a sweet little whine waiting for food. It may be cute, but done in excess, it can be a very annoying habit. It has been known to keep guests from returning to many a home for dinner. This is not exactly what you intended the first time you gave your dog a "treat" from your plate, but it's the result of doing it anyway.
Begging is learned, not instinctive. You may have given the dog a piece of meat or other food from your plate at some point. I've seen people let their dogs lick the plate clean, also as a treat. This is how dogs learn to beg. They reach a point where they know if they are really cute and whine a little, the behavior will be rewarded. This is a behavior that you probably don't want to teach your pets.
Imagine having several dogs in your home who feel their place at the table is right next to yours. Or imagine eating in front of the TV in the den, as many people do, with Fifi and Fido at their feet. You feel sorry for them. Stop. Consider the fact that this is your time. You have the right to eat alone, just as they do. You keep children, pets and visitors away from your dogs to allow them to eat in security and privacy. You deserve this as well.
A feeding routine should be established from the time your pet enters your home and joins your family. It may be necessary to crate your dog during your dinner time. If you dog is not crate trained, it is up to you to keep him out of the room in which your family dines. A baby gate could help with this technique, or enclosing the dog in a safe room that he is comfortable in.
If you adopt a dog that begs or have inadvertently created a dog that is begging, correction is a bit more difficult. Consistency and persistence are a must. Do not give in, ever, to his begging. Giving him something once is rewarding bad behavior. Some things that may help with breaking this behavior are:* Feed your dog the same time as your family. This is distracting for him and he will be occupied during your private time. Feeding the dog in a different room works even more effectively.
Basic teaching may require moving him from the dining area to another part of the house. This is negative reinforcement and will work as well as complete refusal, to break your dog of this behavior. But remember, consistency rules. Any change in your behavior will set your training habits back. Dogs can be stubborn. It is up to you to be just as stubborn (or more so!) to accomplish this training.
"Begging: How to Stop your Dog From Begging," by Krista Mifflin, About.com
"Dog Tip: Food Warnings and Kitchen Safety," September 2011, Partnership for Animal Welfare,
"How to Discourage Begging," Drs. Foster and Smith Educational Staff
"Obesity in Dogs: How to Control It," Drs. Foster and Smith Educational Staff