How do I train my dog to be polite and well behaved while the rest of us are eating dinner?
Behind every dog who begs at the table is (usually) a human who’s given in to those pleading canine looks. That said, it’s important to reiterate the age-old rule: “Never feed your dog from the table so he won’t learn to beg!”
For those of you who’ve already succumbed and have a drooling dinner partner at your side, I suggest teaching the “Go to your bed” command. Taught correctly, your dog will learn to stay in a designated area while you enjoy your dinner. I can already hear it–“The poor dog will have to WATCH me eat??”–but that’s the mindset that got you this problem in the first place. Fear not, he’ll be happy there if he’s got an extra special toy or two (especially one with a treat stuffed in).
That said, there are dogs – you know who you are – who cannot tolerate the sight of their family eating. I owned a Doberman like this, and no matter what amazing toy or chewy I gave him on his mat in the kitchen, he would pine for our dinner. His tactics included hard staring, low moaning, and rivers of drool that would slowly drip from his jowls. It was evident after a few meals like this that he would be much happier with his eyes off the prize, and our very successful solution was to sequester him in another room with a few special dog toys he only saw during our dinner time.
The moral of the story? Know thy dog. Understand which toys will entertain him even through the most delectable-smelling dinner–and know whether he’s able to tolerate the family eating in front of him (and not sharing!). It will ensure a peaceful meal-time experience for your human and canine family.