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toto on a blanketDogs are natural born beggers. It is their ability to cajole humans into tossing them tidbits that helped them to survive and proliferate at a rate much faster than their wolf ancestors who actually have to hunt for their food. When it comes to begging, dogs are the masters. They work their charm, and people cannot resist giving them just one bite from their plate. It becomes an annoying habit when you can't eat your supper in peace. It can also be a bit unnerving to some of your guests to try and eat their meal with a drooling dog staring at them.

The first rule to prevent begging is to never feed your dog from your plate while you are eating. Dogs do what works. If begging while you eat works to get a bite from you, she will continue doing it. Some dogs will stop begging after a while just because it doesn't work.

If you're not feeding her from your plate, but your dog is still begging, teach her to lie down somewhere out of your way while you are eating. Teach this when you're not eating, of course. This is a great example of the practical use of obedience training.

Another option is to prevent access to where you are eating. She could go outside while you eat, or go into her crate, for example. This is the easiest option, but it doesn't teach your dog anything. She won't beg because she won't have the opportunity, but she won't learn not to beg.

Stealing Food

If you're like me, you don't eat at the kitchen table but on the couch in front of the t.v. It's easy for a dog to just run up and take something off your plate. One of my first foster dogs snatched a steak from my husband's plate once. My husband snatched it back and ate it. You don't have to eat it if you don't want to eat behind a dog, but you should take it away if they are sucessful and stealing something from your plate and IF you know it is safe and she won't bite you. If she is allowed to eat it, she is getting rewarded for stealing food, and you don't want that.

The better option is to prevent her from stealing it in the first place. That means that you have to keep an eye on her because dogs are fast! If she tries to approach your plate, stop her with a startling sound like uh-uh or with the Leave It command if she knows it. Then, keep on eating. Every time she tries to approach your plate, verbally stop her in her tracks. If you have a small dog, watch for her getting ready to leap. Some small dogs will jump right onto your plate! It will only take a few meals for her to figure out that what is on your plate is off limits to her. Eventually, you will even be able to leave your plate on the coffee table while you go to the kitchen for more ketchup, and she will not touch your food!

Another good option is having her lie down somewhere while you are eating, just like for beggers. Also as with begging, you can prevent access to where you are eating. Again, this will not teach her not to steal food. It simply doesn't give her the opportunity.
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