Does your dog bark non-stop anytime you have a meal? It’s most likely a bad behavior that has built up over time. Here are some things you can try if you want to have a meal in peace.
1. Stop Giving Your Dog Human Food
Chances are, you or someone else in the household has already given the dog food every time she barks. Dogs are smart animals. Over time, the dogs will start to understand that they’ll be rewarded with food every time they bark. They might give you the puppy eyes but you have to stop this right now.
The food we eat can also be very dangerous to dogs. For example, dogs can’t eat food like chocolate, grapes, and onions. Don’t put your dog’s health at risk by offering them a bit of your meal.
2. Keep the Dogs Busy
Give them something interesting to do while you eat. For example, some owners have had success keeping their dog quiet by giving them a treat-filled toy. Unless the dog is a major genius, the toy should keep them busy until you are done eating.
Also, don’t just give them treats on a plate or food bowl. They’ll gobble the treat up in a matter of seconds and start barking again for more.
3. Reinforce Calmness
You want to reward your dog when she stays calm, not when she barks. You might often see this being referred to as the ‘capturing calmness’ training. The first step of this training is to ignore your dog when she starts begging for your food. Any sort of interaction can reinforce your dog’s behavior.
The next step is to reward your dog with a treat any time she remains quiet while you are eating. The dog will eventually learn that staying calm is a positive thing. Be patient as it can take some time for dogs to get the message, especially if they are stubborn.
A concept called extinction burst may also come into play when you try a ‘capturing calmness’ training. This means your dog’s barking behavior will initially get worse, but at a certain point, the dog will finally realize her bad behavior will always get ignored so she’ll gradually stop the bad behavior.
4. Go on a Walk with Your Dog
Plan the dog walk or exercise session so it happens just before mealtime. The goal of this is to tire out your dog to the point where she’s too tired to beg for food.
Please note that this could sometimes backfire, especially if the dog gets really hungry after a long walk. In that case, you might want to also schedule your dog’s meal straight after she’s given plenty of exercise.
5. Introduce Crate Training
Crates can be of great value for people who are trying to train their puppies. The purpose of crate training is to make the crate a safe spot for your dog. Your dog should be willing to go inside with or without your intervention. If done correctly, you can leave the dog in the crate while you have your meal.