This article discusses the use of extinction training as a method to stop dogs from begging at the dinner table. The method involves ignoring the unwanted behavior, reinforcing the desired behavior, and maintaining consistency and patience throughout the process. The dog will eventually learn that begging is not rewarded and will exhibit the desired behavior, resulting in a more peaceful and enjoyable mealtime experience for the family and their guests.
A family has a dog that consistently begs for food at the dinner table. This behavior is disruptive and makes mealtime uncomfortable for the family and their guests. The family wants their dog to stop begging during meals.
During mealtime, the dog approaches the dinner table, whines, paws at the family members, or stares at them with pleading eyes in an attempt to get food or attention. The dog has likely been reinforced with food or attention in the past, which has encouraged the begging behavior.
The dog trainer suggests using the extinction method to teach the dog not to beg.
How To Stop Dogs from Begging at the Dinner Table
Before starting the extinction process, ensure that all family members and guests are aware of the training method and are on board. Consistency is crucial for the success of this technique. Additionally, ensure that your dog is well-fed and has an appropriate space to relax while you eat, like a dog bed or designated area.
- Ignoring the behavior
When your dog starts begging at the dinner table, everyone at the table must completely ignore the behavior. This includes not making eye contact, not talking to the dog, not petting or scolding, and definitely not giving any food from the table. Consistency is key – everyone must be on the same page and committed to ignoring the begging behavior.
- Expect an extinction burst
In the beginning, your dog’s begging behavior may actually increase in intensity, as they try harder to get your attention. This is called an “extinction burst.” It is important to continue ignoring the behavior, as this is a sign that the extinction process is working.
- Reinforce the desired behavior
While ignoring the begging, reinforce the behavior you want, such as lying down on their bed or staying in their designated area. When your dog exhibits the desired behavior, reward them with praise, attention, or treats (away from the dinner table). This will encourage them to continue the positive behavior instead of begging.
- Be patient and consistent
Extinction training can take time, so it’s essential to be patient and consistent with the process. The dog may take several days or even weeks to learn that begging at the dinner table is not rewarded.
Once the begging behavior has stopped, continue to reinforce the desired behavior (lying on their bed or staying in their designated area) and remain consistent in ignoring any future attempts to beg at the dinner table.
If the family follows the trainer’s recommendations consistently and patiently, the dog will learn that begging at the dinner table is not rewarded. As a result, the dog will eventually stop begging during meals and will instead exhibit the desired behavior, such as lying down on their bed or staying in a designated area. This will lead to a more peaceful and enjoyable mealtime experience for the family and their guests.
- Pryor, K. (1999). Don’t Shoot the Dog!: The New Art of Teaching and Training. Bantam Books.
- McConnell, P. B. (2002). The Other End of the Leash: Why We Do What We Do Around Dogs. Ballantine Books.
- Reid, P. J. (1996). Excel-erated Learning: Explaining in Plain English How Dogs Learn and How Best to Teach Them. James & Kenneth Publishers.
- Dunbar, I. (2003). Before & After Getting Your Puppy: The Positive Approach to Raising a Happy, Healthy, and Well-Behaved Dog. New World Library.
- Miller, P. (2008). The Power of Positive Dog Training. Howell Book House.
- American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior (AVSAB): https://avsab.org/
- Association of Professional Dog Trainers (APDT): https://apdt.com/
- International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants (IAABC): https://iaabc.org/