Stop Thanksgiving Begging 

3 min read
Jan 26, 2022

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!

Why Do Dogs Beg? 

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. 

How to Stop the Begging

Try the strategies below to prevent your dog from “working the crowd” for food at Thanksgiving: 

1. Stop the begging before Thanksgiving

 Begin the unlearning process as early as you can.

2. Get everyone on board

 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.

3. Ignore 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.

4. Distract your dog while you eat or prepare meals

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.

5. Teach commands

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. 

6. Inform all Thanksgiving guests to ignore the begging

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.

Stay Aware and Keep Your Pet Safe

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 Metlife1, we know accidents and illnesses can happen to all pets. MetLife Pet Insurancecan help cover unexpected vet visits2 and even provide peace of mind. 

Consider getting dog health insurance for your furry friend today.

Protect your Dog

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Nothing in this article should be construed as financial, legal or veterinary advice. Please consult your own advisors for questions relating to your and your pet’s specific circumstances.

1 Pet Insurance offered by MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC is underwritten by Independence American Insurance Company (“IAIC”), a Delaware insurance company, headquartered at 485 Madison Avenue, NY, NY 10022, and Metropolitan General Insurance Company (“MetGen”), a Rhode Island insurance company, headquartered at 700 Quaker Lane, Warwick, RI 02886, in those states where MetGen’s policies are available. MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC is the policy administrator authorized by IAIC and MetGen to offer and administer pet insurance policies. MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC was previously known as PetFirst Healthcare, LLC and in some states continues to operate under that name pending approval of its application for a name change. The entity may operate under an alternate, assumed, and/or fictitious name in certain jurisdictions as approved, including MetLife Pet Insurance Services LLC (New York and Minnesota), MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions Agency LLC (Illinois), and such other alternate, assumed, or fictitious names approved by certain jurisdictions.

2 Provided all terms of the policy are met. Application is subject to underwriting review and approval. Like most insurance policies, insurance policies issued by IAIC and MetGen contain certain deductibles, co-insurance, exclusions, exceptions, reductions, limitations, and terms for keeping them in force. For costs, complete details of coverage and exclusions, and a listing of approved states, please contact MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC.

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