Whether it’s your own dog, or a friend’s, we’ve all had the experience of sitting down to a nice meal only to have the dog rest its head on your leg. Maybe they’ve tapped you with a paw. Maybe they jumped onto the table and ruined a meal like in the film A Christmas Story. Whatever your experience with dogs begging at the table, it’s certainly inconvenient and likely annoying. A dog begging is natural, and can you blame them? The sights, the sounds of a carefully and lovingly prepared meal can sometimes be too much to resist. The good news is that no matter what dog is causing upset at your dinner table, there’s always something to be done about it. Today, we’ll lay out steps you can take to help your dog behave at dinner.

How to Deal with a Dog Begging

First things first, there is a simple rule when it comes to training: set expectations and follow through. This goes for pets, but it also goes for people. They’ll never meet your expectations if you don’t clearly express them. Of course, with people you can simply tell them your expectations. It gets a little trickier when you’re training animals. Because dogs cannot understand your words, you must show them with simple commands and actions. Here are simple actions you can take to stop your dog from begging.

Ignore a Dog That Is Begging

When your dog is begging, it’s trying to get a reaction from you. They’re saying, “Hey! I want that food too!” As a person, you must be strong enough to not give in. They may whine, they may bark, and they may even rest in your lap, but it’s important ignore this attention seeking behavior. Even by telling your dog to stop, you are reaffirming to them that you see them. It can be very trying once you decide you want to stop your dog’s begging but trust us when we say this is the hardest part. Remember that your dog looks to you as the Alpha. They take their cues from you, so make sure you’re not giving them the attention they are seeking by begging.

Never Feed a Dog That’s Begging

Your dog loves and trusts you. Sharing food is one way that you help to build that trust. When your dog is hungry, here you come with a bowl of their favorite stuff. But your dog also knows that they can get away with getting a little nip off the table too. That’s where you should draw the line. If your dog is begging for food from the table, not only do you have to ignore their cries, but you must never give them food. When they figure out that begging worked once, they know that it’s likely to work again. Which leads to the next point.

Never Take a Break

You cannot ever let up with the “no table scraps” rule. If you give food to a begging dog even once, they will likely continue because they have been taught that begging works. You must make sure your dog learns that begging does not work ever. That’s why you cannot take a break or “give in” to your dog’s whining.

Your Dog Begging is Not Emotional

It’s easy to see your dog begging for food as an emotional battle, but it’s not. Your dog is trying to elicit a response from you, so it’s important that you do not let emotions get in the way. You might feel badly for your dog, but always remind yourself that there is no reason for that. You take great care of your dog. You feed them a healthy diet, you play with them often, and you probably also cuddle for some relaxation at the end of the night together. Your dog has everything they need. Once you look at the situation this way, with a clear head, it’s much easier to steel yourself against their whining.

Always Be Patient with a Begging Dog

Lastly, always remember that pretty much no one learns something the first time trying it. If your dog has been begging, it will take time for them to drop that behavior. Consistency is key though. Never give up expecting proper behavior, reinforce when your dog does what’s expected and, in the end, you’ll have a well-behaved dog. Just remember that you can never take a break from enforcing your rules.