Having dogs is a wonderful experience. You share unconditional love mutually, and you know each other has your back. At times, it can be heaven – laying on the couch and cuddling, watching your favorite TV show. At other times, your best friend can be the most annoying child in the world.
One of these times can often be dinner time. You are all sitting at the table about to enjoy a great meal, and you hear whining coming from your furry friend, or even worse, your furry friend is jumping up on the table or your lap, begging for some of that roast beef. At the beginning, you decide to quiet your pup with a couple of pieces and then when he continues to give you those cute puppy eyes, you give in again. But then you start to get annoyed and you tell him “enough”, thinking that’s the end of it. But 5 seconds later, the whining begins and doesn’t end until the food is gone. No more cute pup. But there is hope. Training your dog not to get is somewhat straightforward. With obedience training, you will be able to cut that whining or table surfing out completely.
First things first – call a family meeting. Everyone has to be on the same page – no more table scraps for Benji. If he begs, ignore him and make sure you don’t look at him. If he starts to whine incessantly, take him out of the room and shut the door for 3 minutes. Then you can bring him back – if the whining starts again, back in the room. You should not talk or interact with your pup during dinner. Patience is definitely a virtue here, as your pup won’t transform to an obedient dog overnight – it will take regular and relentless cold-shouldering, if that is a word.
The method I recommend is one where you teach your dog to go to a specific place. To train this, you first start by luring your dog to whatever place you set up (a bed, a towel, a couch). You must say “place” and then lure him so that all four paws are the place you designated. When this happens, say “yes!” to mark the good behavior. In little time your dog will realize that this “place” is where you want him to be and will go there freely without the lure. Once this occurs, reward your dog with a “yes!” marker so he knows he did good. Now, it’s time to increase distance and duration of your dog staying in place. After you put your dog in “place”, step back a few steps and repeat “place!”. Then release him by saying “OK” (this is the only word that releases him from place) and tossing a couple of treats near the place. This will get him out of place to get the treats, and he will realize that the word OK means he can be free. Eventually, you won’t have to toss the treats after saying OK as he will just get up after hearing the word.
Increase your distance from place before saying OK. Then increase not only the distance, but the duration from when you put him in place and when you say OK. This will take many 15 minute sessions, perhaps 3 weeks-worth, but you will eventually have a dog that will go to place and stay there indefinitely until the release word of OK is issued.
The next time you sit down to eat and your dog begins to beg, simply tell him to go to place. But you still will require patience from time to time until you reach 100% success.