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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I apologize if this has been covered before (I'm sure it has) but I did a forum search and couldn't find what I was looking for.

Here's the deal... our new dog (we've had for not quite a month) is suddenly going absolutely bonkers anytime me, my wife, or stepson are eating. It's the worst at dinner time when the food is particularly tasty and aromatic. The first few weeks he would bark at us a bit when we ate but would typically settle down pretty quick. However for the past 3-4 days he just goes insane. He barks. And barks. And barks. He does these crazy hyper rolls into our legs and the side of the couch. He bites the couch (which he NEVER does otherwise). etc.

We've tried taking him outside to play before we eat. Unsuccessful.

He is always fed before we eat so it's not like he's starving or anything.

We've tried putting him in his crate while we eat. He just barks as loud as possible the entire time.

Last night, as we were sitting down to eat, my wife tried giving him a small plate of about 4 or 5 pieces of boiled chicken she made for him. I told her beforehand I didn't think that was a good idea as we want him to LEARN not to bother us while we eat. Not have to distract him with other food while we eat. She said she wanted to try anyway. Of course he ate that in 0.2 seconds and was immediately all over us again.

I should say that we do eat while watching TV on the couch. I'm sure eating at the dining room table might help. But we've always eaten on the couch and don't want to be forced to change locations just to be able to eat in peace. It's getting very frustrating as my wife and I both love to cook and more so ENJOY our dinner at our leisure. But lately we're having to scarf it down as fast as possible just because his nonstop shrill bark is so unbearable.

Any advice on what to do in this situation? We have NEVER given him table scraps so there's been no precedence set to make him think we might actually give him some of our food. And I should say that he doesn't actually try to snatch the food off the plate or anything. He's just sniffs around your tray/plate nonstop and is annoying as hell.

Sorry for the long post.
 

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I always feed mine her food at the same time as we are sitting down at the table to eat. She doesn't beg but will sit under the table waiting for crumbs to fall unless she has a bullystick to chew on. If we sit on the couch to eat she will get on the couch and just stare at us and sniff the air while we eat so we usually go back to the table then. You might try eating at the table and give your dog a chewy to occupy him and see if that works.
 

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I would crate him with his dinner in a puzzle toy OR crated with a chew toy like a Kong with some peanut butter in it and frozen. By feeding his dinner from a toy, it will take him longer to eat (giving you more time) and mentally occupy him better (less likely to bark)

If he has been fed (or is eating) and is crated, I would ignore him. Yes, it might be a week or two of obnoxious barking, but he should get over it when he learns it doesn't do any good.

Check out toys like Twist N Treat, Tug A Jug, Buster Cube, and other "interactive food dispensers" (search term for google)-- always feed the first couple meals with a new toy in your sight to make sure he doesn't try to destroy the toy or break it and eat it.
 

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After Kabota came out of his shell a bit, we discovered he had really bad mealtime manners. Like steal food out of your hand bad manners. (We eat in the living room, too. No need to set the table for the two of us.) We solved it by sharing our food*- but only for obeying commands. We started with sit. Sit, get a bite. I spent most of the meal treating him for sitting. Then it was sit and wait for 3 seconds. Then 5 seconds. Then 30 seconds. You get the idea. But he didn't get a single scrap until he did what was asked. Trying to grab food out of hands, or jumping up onto the couch to steal right off our plates is an automatic trip to the bedroom for the duration of dinner. He learned pretty quickly that doing as he was asked was the way to get scraps.

Now, Kabota sits as soon as we sit down to eat, without even being asked, and very politely waits for any scraps sent his way, even if he doesn't get a scrap until we're done.

Just be aware that if you choose to do this, you'll have to spend a few meals doing nothing but training. And, I don't mind sharing my dinner with the dog, but if you do, you may want to find another solution.


*Only the stuff that's good for him, like chicken or potatoes or carrots, and only tiny pieces.
 

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Ah yes. Bella is an annoying little bugger when it comes to dinnertime too. We also eat in the living room and the table is much lower and easier access. What I did was train her to "go to her spot" which is a mat on the floor. She has to go there and lie down quietly and then I give her a chew treat that lasts her through our meal.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
You might try eating at the table and give your dog a chewy to occupy him and see if that works.
I'll give that a shot as a last resort. I'd prefer to not have to drastically alter our dinner habits just to accommodate a dog that is acting up though. But if it comes right down it we may have to do that. Thanks!

I would crate him with his dinner in a puzzle toy OR crated with a chew toy like a Kong with some peanut butter in it and frozen. By feeding his dinner from a toy, it will take him longer to eat (giving you more time) and mentally occupy him better (less likely to bark)

If he has been fed (or is eating) and is crated, I would ignore him. Yes, it might be a week or two of obnoxious barking, but he should get over it when he learns it doesn't do any good.

Check out toys like Twist N Treat, Tug A Jug, Buster Cube, and other "interactive food dispensers" (search term for google)-- always feed the first couple meals with a new toy in your sight to make sure he doesn't try to destroy the toy or break it and eat it.
Thanks for the advice! I'll definitely give the toys a try. That sounds like a promising solution.


After Kabota came out of his shell a bit, we discovered he had really bad mealtime manners. Like steal food out of your hand bad manners. (We eat in the living room, too. No need to set the table for the two of us.) We solved it by sharing our food*- but only for obeying commands. We started with sit. Sit, get a bite. I spent most of the meal treating him for sitting. Then it was sit and wait for 3 seconds. Then 5 seconds. Then 30 seconds. You get the idea. But he didn't get a single scrap until he did what was asked. Trying to grab food out of hands, or jumping up onto the couch to steal right off our plates is an automatic trip to the bedroom for the duration of dinner. He learned pretty quickly that doing as he was asked was the way to get scraps.

Now, Kabota sits as soon as we sit down to eat, without even being asked, and very politely waits for any scraps sent his way, even if he doesn't get a scrap until we're done.

Just be aware that if you choose to do this, you'll have to spend a few meals doing nothing but training. And, I don't mind sharing my dinner with the dog, but if you do, you may want to find another solution.


*Only the stuff that's good for him, like chicken or potatoes or carrots, and only tiny pieces.
Yeah our guy is really starting to come out of his shell and has become quite the little hellion! I may give this a shot if the food-dispensing toys don't work. We typically cook with a lot of spices and stuff though so maybe instead of actually giving him our food I could just feed him his boiled chicken or something.

I definitely don't want him EXPECTING food every single time we eat though. Hopefully this is something we can just train him out of.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Ah yes. Bella is an annoying little bugger when it comes to dinnertime too. We also eat in the living room and the table is much lower and easier access. What I did was train her to "go to her spot" which is a mat on the floor. She has to go there and lie down quietly and then I give her a chew treat that lasts her through our meal.
I will give this a try as well. Although I have a feeling he will lose interest in the treat the moment he smells our food. Thanks for the reply.
 

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We eat on the couch often as well, and now there's rarely a problem. A couple of things that we did:
Doggy zen (I think there's a sticky), basically self control stuff. We taught a strong "leave it" with a plate on the coffee table (not completely dependable, but I can usually put my plate down and go get a drink now!), and, the big one for us, was we had treats handy (high value yummies), and whenever she gave up a particular annoying behaviour we would toss a treat AWAY from us, so she only got goodies for being away from us, and of course also for laying down. Kind of like a "go to mat" or "place" command, but her place is anywhere not near us....
 

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To add a couple of suggestions:

For HIGHLY food-motivated dogs, I love the Busy Buddy Squirrel Dude. It's like a kong, except that little rubber prongs block the hole to help keep food inside. It will occupy a highly food-motivated dog for hours.

Another suggestion: While one person eats, the other sits near the crate with a clicker and treats (or kibble). Quiet earns click/treat, while barking earns nothing. The dog will figure it out quickly, I promise. Once in a while, if my dog is bothering me while I'm cooking/eating, I will send her to her crate. She has learned that staying there and staying quiet will earn her the last bite from my plate.
 

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Titan, hang in there mate.
I have 8 dogs staring me down when I eat on the couch but they have all learned that if they maintain the good manners, they may get a treat.
I am not a fan of feeding dogs from my plate. YOu can overfeed them and human food is usually a bit fattier which is why there are so many overweight pets around.
My thought would be that you use his dinner, in a bowl next to you. As you eat so he gets dribble fed his dinner. You might turn this into a training session. Sits, drops, begs, go back, shake a paw - whatever. But he only gets some food if he is quite and does what he is told.
Over a period you leave longer and longer periods between the feeding until he is quiet the whole time through.

Good luck.
 

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When we eat staggered meals (like when my husband is out in the evening) we generally end up sitting on the couch eating, but Hamilton definitely wants to stick his nose in your plate. It was easier before he learned to jump on the couch. We're working on his 'leave it,' which helps. Most of the time though, I just go sit at the breakfast bar and eat, so I'm still in the room with Hamilton and he just sits and watches. If he jumps up or makes a noise I just ignore it. Occasionally when he's been sitting quietly for a bit, I'll drop a bit of food for him. When we're eating together, we always eat at the dining room table with Hamilton gated in the next room. He used to freak out the entire time, but he's gotten used to it now, and will generally just do his own thing until we get back. Eating away from the TV isn't such a bad thing! Just DVR your show, sit and chat with the fam for 20 minutes, then enjoy it without commercials!
 

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Bob and Sacha did this at a certain age, and we 100% ignored them. Not even a glance. We did wince at the loud barks. It took 3-4 full days with several meals, and then they stopped. Now they lay down a little bit away and watch.
 

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I would teach the dog to go to its bed, then throw it some of your food at regular intervals while you eat. This doesn't need to be on cue, it should be the default behaviour.

Go to the bed should be taught at a different time of time, not while you're trying to eat. Practice it several times a day, and give loads of high value treats while the dog is on its bed. Then when you eat the dog might go to its bed on its own, because that's where it's been getting treats. When it does, throw it some of your food (no point rewarding with something of lower value than what the dog is expecting or wants, as you probably won't reinforce the behaviour). If the dog doesn't go to the bed on its own, give the dog the cue to go to the bed, and then throw a treat. Repeat as needed, and soon enough the dog will go to its bed at mealtimes and you can then gradually reward less and less, until you only reward once when you've finished eating.
 
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