If your dog begs, do you catch yourself thinking, "Isn't that cute?" If so, it's understandable – but it's also wrong. While your dog may look cute sitting there on its haunches with a sweet little whine waiting for food, it's also annoying and distracting, especially to guests. It's probably not what you intended when you gave your dog a treat for the first time, but it's what happened as a result.
Begging is learned, not instinctive
Dogs don't know "how" to beg from birth. It's not instinctive behavior. You teach this behavior inadvertently when you give a dog a piece of meat or food for your plate, and/or when you let your dog lick your plate clean. Even if it's cute, which it may be, it's probably not a behavior you want to reward.
What would happen if your dog suddenly decides that sitting at the table with you is its right? Ridiculous? Even so, you probably feel sorry for your pet when it is sitting there waiting for you to give it a little scrap.
But this is your time. This is your special opportunity to spend time with your family, to eat, to have a meal in peace. You deserve it, and so do your guests and family.
How do you stop your dog from begging?
• Crate your dog during meal times
If you need to, you can crate your dog during mealtimes to keep it from begging. Once your dog has had the habit broken, it may not need the crate anymore, but you should reinforce your retraining by ignoring your dog at mealtimes.
• Feed your dog at regularly scheduled times
Your dog should have a feeding routine from the moment it comes in the door. If your dog has its own mealtimes, it will be less likely to beg from you if you discontinue feeding it from your table. It is important to maintain your dog's regularly scheduled mealtimes while you stop rewarding begging behavior at the same time.
• Feed your dog when you have your own meals
Your dog can learn to be part of the family by eating its meal nearby while your family is enjoying theirs. If your dog finds your dinner distracting, feed it in a separate room.
• Make your dining room or kitchen off-limits during meal time
Again, crate training works for this, or you can simply forbid your dog to go into your designated eating area as a matter of course. If it does enter the dining area, command it to leave immediately.
Remember, above all, be consistent. Dogs can be so stubborn and can have difficulty breaking habits, so your consistency will help expedite the process.