4 Ways to Train Your Dog to Have Good Table Manners
- by Chris Irwin
For most of us, our pets are like our children. They sleep in our beds, they watch TV with us, and they exercise with us. In fact, in many households, they even eat with us. To some people this may seem strange, and even unhygienic, but in some families it is the norm. The fact is, there should be some rules about your pet joining you at the dinner table, whether you have guests or not.
But, how do you stop the pleading eyes and quiet whimpers of being close to starvation that come with eating a meal in front of your dog? We took a look at a few ways to train your dog how to behave during dinner time. Whether a small puppy or an old dog, who absolutely can learn new tricks, we broke down a few simple ways of installing good behaviour. And yes, it most certainly does all start with you. Let’s get stuck in.
1. Synchronize Meal Times
One of the biggest distractions for animals during meal time is by giving them food of their own. This may be somewhat tricky to do as dinner prep is usually quite intensive for the human side of your family. But, if you can start synchronizing the meals, your dog will start getting used to being away from the table, and feasting at the same time as you on their side of the house.
If you can get a routine going everyday, the dog will actually start looking forward to his meal rather than yours. Take the Pavlov’s Dog experiment, for example. In this, Pavlov rang a bell each time before giving a dog some food. The dog began salivating each time the bell was rung prior to receiving the food. Pavlov started ringing the bell and not feeding the dog, yet the dog still salivated in anticipation for their food.
The same concept can be used here. Your dog will be aware of your food preparation and will associate it to him or her being fed, and will look forward to their food. Once you start getting this routine going, you will start noticing that your dog spends less time looking longingly at you and more time at their own bowl.
2. Refrain from Giving Scraps and Snacks
This is a big deal when it comes to your dog’s behavior being learnt. Consider how you train a dog in the first place; you reward his or her behaviour with a tasty treat. If they sit or lie down on command, they receive a doggy biscuit. By allowing your dog to snack from your plate, you are transferring this behaviour to the dinner table and rewarding them for their big pleading brown eyes.
We understand, sometimes mom’s cooking can be more of a nuclear experiment rather than a nutritious meal, and slipping the dog the unwanted broccoli goes back centuries. But the fact of the matter is that it simply teaches your pet really bad habits that will be incredibly difficult to break in a few months and years.
Hard-to-break habits aside, sneaking your dog scraps from your plate can also be incredibly disruptive to the dog’s digestive system. Remember, human food can be packed with ingredients and additives that are simply not good for the dog. Not only that, but there are a number of food that we can ingest that they simply should not be. The obvious, chocolate and alcohol aside, did you know that onions and garlic are not good for dogs. With these are the basis of most meals, you could slowly be harming your dog. Rather stick to your nutritious dog food and doggie snacks after the meal has ended.
3. Remove Them From The Room Entirely
If you have allowed your dog in the dining room for months or years, this may just unleash a flood of dramatic whines, barking and scratching during the course of your meal. The trick is to ride it out until they start subsiding. And they will. It might take a few days, or even weeks, but as with everything, the dog will learn to adapt to the new norm.
In an effort to calm the shock and sheer torture of being isolated away from the feasting family, provide the dog with a few distractions. Whether it be their own meal, toys, other animals, or even the TV, try and give the dog something else to concentrate on while you eat in peace for a while.
A great routine may be feeding your dog before you eat, allowing them to run off the energy just before serving and then providing them with a cozy bed in a warm spot to sleep off the evening's activities. Animals thrive in routine, and if they know that a comfy beddie awaits them after feeding and activities, you can manage to tempt them away from the dinner table for a while.
4. Learn To Say No
Being firm with dogs is one of the best ways to correct bad habits and behaviours. Here, we don’t mean raised voices, or any kind of physical discipline, rather a strong firm way of teaching your dog right from wrong.
You can try completely ignoring your dog while they are begging for food, but if they are insistent and are jumping up, you are simply going to have to be firm. A loud “no” or “off” repeatedly will discourage the dog from the behaviour and if you remain persistent at all times, you will start teaching your pooch that human meals are meant for humans and not dogs.
Discipline and training is one of the only ways of training your dog and teaching them good behaviour, so invest time and even some money into some good training schools and you will see a solid transformation in your dog’s behaviour.
We are certainly all different when it comes to raising our pets, and integrating them in our daily lives. What works for some people might not work for others. What is important is keeping the health of your animal as well as your pet at the top of your mind. The fact is that sharing a dinner plate or spoon with your dog is simply unhealthy for both of you. Not only can human food really impact your beloved furchild, but it can be unhygienic for you. Remember, your dog’s saliva can carry bacteria that can harm you, especially bacteria from feces. So, try and resist treating your dog to a tasty treat, and stick to healthy dog treats at appropriate times.