How to Keep Your Dog from Begging at the Thanksgiving Table
Tasty Thanksgiving meals are a fun holiday tradition. But what do you do if your dog desperately wants to join in? Maybe your pup quietly stares with sad eyes while you're eating. Or maybe he whines and paws at you in his quest for treats. No matter what the situation, you'll both be a lot happier if he's not fixated on your table. So how can you stop your dog from begging for food? The secret involves a little training, a little distraction and a lot of love.
Don't Feed Your Dog from the Table — No Exceptions
The best way to stop begging is to prevent it from starting in the first place. Don't ever feed your dog food from the table or your plate. You don't want him associating either with delicious treats.
Of course, you might be thinking it's a little too late for that step. But it's never too late to stop rewarding your pup for begging. Just know he'll beg extra hard at first. Stand firm (no matter how cute those sad puppy dog eyes are), and remember that many human foods aren't safe for dogs anyway.
While not foolproof — your pup may still be tempted by the delicious smells — a dog is less likely to beg if he's not rewarded for it.
Use Basic Obedience Commands
It can take time to break a bad habit, so start training your fuzzy bestie now. One of the most helpful commands you can teach for Thanksgiving day is "place." This teaches your dog to go to a specific cot or bed when you give the command and then stay there until you let him leave. The K&H Original Pet Cot is a good bed for this training.
Some experts recommend putting the "place" target (like a pet cot) in the same room as your guests so your pup still feels like he's socializing.
Block Access to the Dinner Table
For some dogs, the best solution is simply blocking their access to the dinner table. The temptation is just too strong.
This might involve setting up pet gates in another section of the house to keep your pup cordoned off but still allow her and your guests to interact. You could also keep your dog in a cozy room with the door shut and give her a few of her favorite toys, food and a CleanFlow Filtered Watered Bowl. Give her a comfy bed to sleep in too, like the K&H Thermo-Ortho Bed.
If your dog feels extra secure in her crate, she might prefer staying there during dinner. Line it with a K&H Self-Warming Crate Pad for extra comfort.
Feed Your Dog Before Your Meal
Feed your dog before your meal so he's not hungry once it's dinner time. If you have an automatic feeder, schedule it to dispense a meal at the beginning of your Thanksgiving dinner. Setting the feeder up in a different room from where you're enjoying Thanksgiving can also help cut down on begging.
Play with Your Dog Before the Meal
A tired dog might beg less or even sleep through the Thanksgiving meal entirely. Go for a walk or jog outside before your big dinner. Drive your pup to a doggy park for a fun outing. If you're taking her for a ride in the car, keep her secure in a car seat for dogs, like the K&H Bucket Booster Pet Seat. If you're going for a bike ride together and your dog's small, try the K&H Travel Bike Basket.
Distract Your Dog
Some dogs beg out of boredom more than hunger. Redirecting their attention to something fun and distracting can be a fun solution that works for both of you. Try an interactive toy that dispenses treats. Or give your pup a special chew toy that he loves but only receives during your mealtime. For some dogs, a frozen chew bone really hits the spot.
If the weather's good, this might be the right time to let your dog play outside in the backyard (but only if it's safe for him to be there without close supervision).
Can You Give Your Dog Leftovers?
No matter how much your dog begs, don't give in. That would just make the problem worse! However, you can give your pup a special treat after dinner's over to reward good behavior. Plainly prepared turkey (without any bones) is a tasty choice. Avoid any holiday turkey with stuffing or spices since those might not be safe for your pup. Other safe holiday options include plain pumpkin, a little bit of cheese or a bite of plain sweet potato.
Begging doesn't have to be one of your Thanksgiving traditions. With a little training and some distracting toys, your dog's whines and soulful stares can be a part of the past. Don't forget to reward your good boy with lots of playtime and cuddles after the meal's over.