Pet Parenting: I beg of you!


Dear Denise,

Help! My dog is so annoying at the dinner table. I know it doesn’t help that our daughter sometimes slips him food while we’re not looking. What’s the best way to keep a dog from begging at the table?

Denise: The best way to keep a dog from begging at the table is to eliminate the opportunity. If you are trying to enjoy a sit-down family meal or have company, I’d simply put the pooch outside or in his kennel with something yummy of his own. Once he is trained, you can reincorporate him into the environment, but training begins when food is NOT on the table and your focus can be on training, not entertaining or serving.

Does your dog know a down-stay? This is step one. After teaching this, you will begin asking for a down-stay in a specific location. I’d choose a location out of the way of traffic and out of reach of your daughter, but where he can still see you at the table. Ask him to stay as you move to the table. You will slowly begin to ask for longer downs with added activity. For example, you ask for a down and then go to the table to sit. Then you may get up and go to the kitchen, and return. You may need to remind your pooch to stay. If he breaks, simply return him to his spot, and repeat the exercise. The trick with stays is to mix it up, short, long, movement, etc. and to not do too many reps. Stays are difficult. So make your training exercises short and successful.

Once your dog can hold a stay in place for approximately 20 minutes while you move about the dinning and kitchen area, then try it with food on the table, or at dinner. You may also want to provide your dog something really great to do in his place, something like a hollow toy stuffed with peanut butter would be perfect. The only time he will get this really great thing is during dinner while he is in his place.

Denise Holmes is a local pet behavior counselor who owns Ain’t Misbehavin’. She answers pet questions sent in by NWA moms. Denise has been training animals for 25 years and believes she has the best job around! To send her a question, email it to: