Before you know it, Thanksgiving will be upon us, with its wonderful food and mouthwatering aromas. Most of us look forward to the special dinner that is the highlight of the day. But will Rover’s begging detract from the occasion?
Begging is a full-time job for many dogs, and while owners complain about it, they don’t realize that they have actually trained their dogs to do it. Since the first day the adorable puppy came home, his owner has probably succumbed to the pup's pleading expression during a meal at least once... and so it begins.
If your dog is a new addition to the family and has not had time to become an expert moocher, the easiest way to eliminate begging is to make sure it never starts. No one in the family should feed the dog one single morsel from the table, ever! Don’t even look at the dog or speak to him during meals. Do not put the cereal bowl down on the floor for him to lick after you are finished eating. Any attention will give him reason to keep trying.
Right now, while there are a few weeks before the holiday, is a good time to teach your dog how to “go to your place.” This is a valuable addition to any dog’s repertoire of good manners. It’s great for when you are cooking, opening the door for guests, and yes, enjoying a peaceful meal.
Is your dog a seasoned pro at getting what he wants from your table during meals? It will take a few weeks to instill better table manners. Don’t wait until Thanksgiving Day. During simple meals like breakfast and lunch, practice COMPLETELY IGNORING your dog. Do not acknowledge him in any way, positively or negatively. The behavior may get worse before it gets better because he’s had good luck until now. When a ploy works for dogs and suddenly stops, they actually try harder before they eventually give up. But if you persevere, he will give up.
Until his manners have reliably improved, put your dog in his crate with a treat or chew toy before you even sit down to dinner. This is also the best thing to do on the big feast day because guests will be prime targets for begging. They may even purposely sabotage your efforts to improve your dog’s social skills!
Don’t forget about the plates of cookies, nuts, and snacks that are out for guests. While you are busy preparing food and talking to guests, Fifi will take advantage of your distraction and help herself. This could be dangerous, and it’s another good reason to let her hang out safely in her crate with that dog-safe treat.
It’s okay to give your pup a special piece of leftover meat or vegetables, but only when dinner is over. Take the treat away from the table and put it in her dog dish.
Many people believe that getting a taste of human food in any setting will cause a dog to start begging, but it’s the “when,” not the “what.” Giving Rover a few bits of leftover turkey or carrots on top of his dog food is not the same as handing him food from your plate during your dinner. Be sure that he only gets foods that are healthy for him, nothing with lots of fat, onions, or spices.
Here you’ll find a list of some human foods and whether or not they are safe for dogs:
If you are not sure about a particular food, don’t give it to your dog. Have a wonderful and safe Thanksgiving with your mannerly dog – and don’t forget to take him for a nice long walk after the big meal. That will be good for you and for him!