Giving Thanks for Table Manners

Turkey time can be take-it time for opportunistic dogs. Local dog trainer Leigh Siegfried of Opportunity Barks has some tips for teaching Thanksgiving table manners.


If you’re anything like me, I love sharing tasty tidbits with my dogs. Yes, I enjoy giving my dogs a little sample of what’s on my plate–and I have no shame! But, with preparing meals or having my dinner plate perched low on a coffee table, I definitely have boundaries and expect my pups to stay clear of what’s on my plate–unless invited. Here are my top tips to keep the food on the buffet table this holiday season.


Have a Klepto Pup? Management is your friend.

If you have a pup that will routinely counter surf or couch dive to snatch that piece of popcorn out of your hands, I recommend lots of management and pro-active removal to prevent your opportunist from getting better at scoring the main course.

Tips: Use crates, gates or a simple closed door to keep your pup out of the kitchen or dining areas while food is being prepared or eaten.

Is your dog good with you but the type that may take advantage of guests?

If you want your dog to join for your Thanksgiving meal, but think they may be ready to pluck food from an unsuspecting guest, use a leash to help them behave during the holiday festivities.

Tip: Dragging a leash is a great way to prevent food thieving. Handlers can simply step on the leash or attach it to something secure near their seat (“tethering”) to keep the dog close to them while they are sitting down.

Many dogs will settle into a down position, and if you give them something to chew on and a comfy dog bed – voila! – all will be well. You know where your dog is and you’re able to keep them from being tempted by the buffet table.


Is your dog the type to be a bit of a noodge with guests?

For the dog that is polite, charming and will stare a hole through you until you give them a piece of stuffing type – you may need to increase your dog’s enrichment to help keep them from pestering guests.

Tip: I’d recommend a combo of tethering or leash dragging, if needed. That way if you’re persistent buddy needs a little wrangling, you can easily guide them away from their unsuspecting targets.

However, if your dog knows how to go to a place and hold it (like his dog bed), insist on that. Secondly, make it a priority to toss some long-lasting chewies into the mix, like a frozen stuffed Kong or bone so your noodge has something to work over – instead of your guests.



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