Do you spend each meal trying to ignore puppy dog eyes? Does dinner prep involve tripping over the dog or shooing the cat off the counter? If you struggle with poor pet table manners, you’re not alone. Fortunately, Animal Kind Veterinary Hospital is here to help!
Are You Part of the Problem?
It doesn’t take much to reinforce undesirable behaviors in pets. If you feed your dog from the table or pet your cat each time they’re on the counter, you’re actually contributing to poor pet table manners. The first step toward having a more polite pet is to check your own behavior and make any changes that might be necessary.
Drawing the Line
Keeping your pet out of the kitchen during food prep and mealtimes is key. Restrict your pet to a different room or place them behind an invisible “line” you don’t want them to cross (such as where the kitchen tile meets the carpet). Reward your pet with praise and positive reinforcement. Know this may take some time, so be patient!
De-Catting the Counter
The key to keeping kitty of the counter or table is to make these areas boring or inhospitable. Start by keeping all food off the sink and kitchen surfaces. Employ one of the following pain-free ideas to stop your cat from lounging on the countertop:
- Purchase some plastic placemats and cover one side with double-sided tape. Keep the mats on the kitchen surfaces when not in use. Cats don’t like sticky surfaces and will avoid these areas.
- Instead of tape, lay pieces of aluminum foil on the counter. The noise and feel will deter cats.
- Many cats cruise the countertops looking for water from a dripping faucet. Providing your cat with a circulating water fountain may satisfy their desire for fresh water.
Solutions for Speedy Eaters
Gulping down their food is not an uncommon behavior in dogs, but eating too quickly can lead to intestinal discomfort, choking, or a life-threatening medical condition known as bloat. Fortunately, there are plenty of creative ways to encourage healthy consumption:
- Try a slow feeder bowl, which is designed to help dogs slow down while eating.
- Food puzzles can encourage slow eating while also providing fun mental stimulation.
- Placing small amounts of kibble in a muffin tin forces your dog to eat smaller amounts in each bite.
- Hand-feeding sounds tedious, but it can be extremely helpful as a training tool. Make it fun by asking your dog to perform simple obedience commands; use their food as a reward for a job well done.
Reinforcing Pet Table Manners
Routine and consistency reign supreme when it comes to teaching and reinforcing proper pet table manners. Feed your pet at the same time each day, and reward good behavior with praise. Never punish your pet for bad manners, as this can be confusing and may lead to even worse behavior. Lastly, don’t give in, no matter how cute your little beggar may be!
If you’re still struggling with pet table manners or have any concerns about your pet, please contact the team at Animal Kind Veterinary Hospital. Together, we can get your pet back on track