Any dog owner would agree that sharing a home with a dog is a source of joy, but sometimes sharing a dinner table with a dog can be nothing but trouble! A dog may beg for food at any time and for many reasons, but most commonly this vice will come out at mealtimes. Some dogs and dog owners see giving human food to a dog as a sign of affection, but giving in to a begging dog can not only create a nuisance, it can also be a health risk, wreaking havoc on your dog’s digestive system. A balanced diet will help your dog stay healthy for longer, something that everyone can get on board with! Dogs may watch a meal in pleading silence, whine, or bark in order to beg for food. More drastically, some dogs may paw at chairs, or even try to jump onto the table to get their point across. Whatever your dog’s tactics, here are some helpful tips to stop this annoying habit. The first and most obvious is also the most important: Do not give in and give food to a begging dog, ever. Dogs only beg for food if some time in their lives they’ve learned to do so, if it has worked once before. The only way to break that cycle is by teaching them that this behavior won’t work again. This is easier said than done, however, and some dogs beg for food mainly as a source of attention. Therefore, when trying to retrain a dog away from this habit, it’s best not to talk to them at all when they beg unless giving them a command. Even something as simple as mentioning your dog’s name can send the wrong message. Beyond that, no matter how frustrated you may get, do not yell at your dog either. Any negative attention can undermine the message you are trying to send as much as positive attention can. Simply ignore your dog when they are begging, not even making eye contact. If this seems impossible, try removing your dog from the area. You can give your dog a “time out” in another room, or make family dinnertime your dog’s dinner time as well, but with the bowl far away from the table. If your dog needs a distraction, giving them their favorite toy can be a good method. Remember, once a regime of breaking this bad habit has begun, it’s most important to use discipline consistently! It’s especially important that everyone in your household is on the same page, as well as any guests who may come for mealtimes. A chain is only as strong as its weakest link, and if one person gives in (yourself included!) then every other time you try to discipline them they will simply be confused. Stopping a dog from begging for food is an uphill battle, but remember to be patient! Breaking a bad habit in anyone takes time, so don’t despair - just practice consistency in whatever tactics you choose and soon your dog will come to respect you and mealtimes.