If you’ve read any of my dog training books, then you know that I subscribe to the pack philosophy of dog psychology. And you don’t need to be an animal psychologist to watch a pack of dogs and know that if you drop a steak in the middle of the room… the most dominant dog will eat it, first
So, what are you communicating when you eat in front of your dog? You are communicating that you are the pack leader.
In our household, we don’t allow our dogs to beg. If I have a cheese snack (and I do love cheese!) … and if I choose to toss one of our dog’s a piece, then I’ll make him work for it. (Just like I work for the food, by the way. As does every other animal in the jungle!)
I will never, ever give one of our dogs a piece of cheese when they ask for it. In fact, I’ll actually use the leash and collar to correct the dog for this behavior– as it’s one of those things that gets very annoying, very quickly.
Now, our dogs are allowed to sit and look pretty. That’s okay. But they better keep their distance, because if they get too close while I’m eating, they’ll get corrected… just like the dominant dog would do.
“But they’re hungry!” I can hear you saying.
Tough. Too bad.
Our dogs live better lives than Kings did in the 15th Century.
Waiting until after we humans finish eating is something that every dog should be taught to do. It’s one of 100 subtle ways you can act like the pack leader. And acting like a pack leader in a non-training environment does translate over to the park, when you ask your dog to behave around distractions. If your dog has seen you consistently act like a pack leader, then he won’t question your authority when faced with a distraction such as a cat, a dog or a piece of food.