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Thanksgiving is quickly approaching, with the promise of delectable and mouth-watering foods on which to feast. Your dog doesn’t know exactly what Thanksgiving is, but his nose certainly knows the smell of good food.
How will you make sure your dog doesn’t pull out all of his begging tricks to get yummy morsels of food from your friends and family at the Thanksgiving table? Keep reading to learn more!
It helps first to understand why dogs beg.
For starters, dogs beg because we let them. Over thousands of years of human domestication, dogs have become master manipulators of human behavior. They have figured out that certain behaviors, such as persistent whining and stares with mournful-looking eyes, pull on our heartstrings just enough for us to give them what they want (in this case, food).
Dogs also beg because they want attention. If you’re happily eating your meal, your dog will use begging behaviors, like placing their paw in your lap, to get your attention.
Begging is a learned behavior in dogs. Unfortunately, once it starts, it’s hard to stop.
Try the strategies below to prevent your dog from “working the crowd” for food at Thanksgiving:
Begin the unlearning process as early as you can.
If just one person continues to slip your dog some food, the begging behavior will continue. Have each household member commit to stopping the begging.
Remember dogs are master manipulators and attention-seekers. When your dog begs for food, ignore him. Your dog might respond by ratcheting up his begging; continue to hold your ground. Once your dog realizes that he’s no longer being rewarded for begging, he’ll stop. Be patient, because this could take at least a few tries.
A food puzzle toy is a great distraction and will keep your dog busy for a long time. A favorite chew toy is another good distraction. Provide the toys before you eat or prepare meals. You can also feed your dog in a separate, closed-off room while you’re in the kitchen or eating a meal.
One such command is “Stay,” which you can use to keep your dog away from the table or kitchen. You can also give a “lie down” command to have your dog lie in his bed (or somewhere away from the kitchen or dining table). Pair these commands with a food puzzle toy so your dog will stay distracted.
Teach and reinforce these commands before your dog starts begging. For example, tell your dog to “stay” or “lie down” before you begin eating or preparing a meal. Otherwise, your dog will continue begging before you give him a command not to.
If your dog still hasn’t gotten begging out of his system by Thanksgiving Day, tell all of your guests to ignore your dog’s pleas for food.
Because begging is a learned behavior, it might take your dog some time to unlearn it. Even if your dog doesn’t get it right this year, keep on working with him so that he’ll be the perfect little host by next year’s Thanksgiving.
If your pet eats poisonous foods that are dangerous for pets, call the vet or Animal Poison Control Center at (855-764-7661) immediately. Let them know what your pet has eaten, how much and when. Do not induce vomiting unless it is recommended.
Here at PetFirst, we know accidents and illnesses happen to all pets. PetFirst is here for every dog and cat. From common colds to more significant health problems, pet insurance can help cover unexpected vet visits.
Pet insurance provides peace of mind that if your pet gets sick or injured, you don’t have to worry about the financial aspect of his treatment. You can just focus on your pet’s care.
Already have a PetFist Insurance Policy? If you have any specific questions or concerns and want to start a live video call with a veterinarian to discuss them, simply download the new airVet app. All calls on airVet are already covered as part of PetFirst policies.