Question: My two-and-a-half-year-old dog, Miller, gets fed every night at the same time we eat. He quickly devours his food and then goes from person to person whining for some of ours. We have never fed him from the table so I am not sure where this persistent begging is coming from. What can we do to stop this behavior so we can enjoy dinnertime again?
Amy’s answer: Dogs are ever the optimists. Any reaction from you is likely interpreted as a possible weakening of your resolve, even if you are just rolling your eyes at his display. First, feed him only when you are through with dinner. In the natural world, the pack leaders would get to eat the choicest bits first. Consider leashing him while you eat and teach him to lie down at your feet. If you have a tile or wood floor, place a bathmat or similar small rug down where you want Miller to relax. Wait until you sit down with your plate in front of you, then ask him to sit, and place a chew bone down between his feet, stepping on his leash to keep him from maneuvering around the table. The bone should only be available to him at this particular time so he values it. This keeps him from getting his nose up to your knee level to goad you into action and gives him something to do. Dogs love a good routine, so establish a pattern that Miller can really sink his teeth into.
Confused? Confounded? Just plain clueless? It’s not you. Dog trainer Amy Robinson answers your burning questions about what the heck your dog is doing. Email your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet to @sniffandbarkens #AskAmyRobinson