Without changing the scenario this will be impossible to break! Dogs do behaviours that work for them, and if your kids are slipping tasty morsels under the table this is now a very rewarding place to be for your dog. Your first point of call would be to chat with your kids and explain why having your dog beg at the table doesn’t work for you as a family. Maybe you want to be able to take her to a pub and have her relax under the table while you eat? This may fall flat on kids though as I’m pretty certain they also find this a highly reinforcing and entertaining business! So from here you have two things to do, firstly management, secondly training your dog to perform an alternative ‘desirable’ behaviour. Management involves preventing her from practicing this unwanted behaviour. This could be having her in a separate room with something like a Kong for entertainment, or installing a barrier such as a baby gate so she can still see you but can’t access your dinner table. Training involves teaching her what you would like her to do while you have a meal. The best thing to teach her would be to settle in her crate or bed by making sure she gets something very yummy and long-lasting in there (a licki mat or puzzle toy). Remember to pay for the behaviours you do like, so if she’s calm and quiet throw a little treat over to her so she knows what behaviours do work from now on. Consistency is key!
Kay Warnes – qualified dog trainer, Victoria Stilwell Academy, currently studying MSc in Clinical Animal Behaviour