Getting results from dog training isn’t something that happens over night, which is why I go on so much about setting boundaries before baby arrives.
There’s no ‘quick fix’ in dog training. Today I want to talk about setting these boundaries for when baby is eating. In this instance you could get a quick result by putting your dog in another room while you eat.
But that won’t solve your problem.
As much as we can live in hope, you know deep down your child won’t eat every meal or snack at the table. And you can’t keep your dog locked away all day.
So, we need to do it the proper way, so here we go.
Firstly, if your dog begs for food by the kitchen table or you always have a nose 2cm away from your plate, don’t reinforce that behaviour by giving them scraps from your plate. Dogs learn through association so if you chuck them a bit of food of your plate every time they sit there and give you the puppy eyes, then they will expect that every time. Stop feeding them from your plate and eventually they will stop asking for it. And even better, start rewarding them for going somewhere else like their bed, or in Busters case I use a mat in the kitchen, then they will begin to associate you eating with a reward if they go to their bed.
The next step, is quite an important one but a very useful one that I think every dog should know regardless of their training level. And that is the command ‘leave’. Without this command a boundary training can become useless as they can ‘self-reward’ by leaving their boundary to go get the food chucked on the floor, you need a very good supply of high value treats to overrule a self-rewarding behaviour. And if like us your going down the baby led weaning route there will be food on the floor and plenty of it!
We use the leave command in everyday life with Buster, from food chucked by the baby, to food he sniffs on the floor and even when playing with his toys.
You may think this feels like a lot of hard work for a simple command, and I won't lie it is! But the end is a beautiful happy and safe relationship between child and dog.
And also, to benefit you after all these training sessions your dog will be mentally tired and in need of a nap, which is always a win for everyone. It is also important to remember that not all foods that your dog is licking up off the floor is safe for them to eat and can cause upset to their tummies.