When we eat dinner, Cooper is expected to 'go lay down'. This means to, not sit at our feet waiting to be fed. Not to watch the floor looking for things that drop. Not sit across the room and stare and whine while we eat. It means to go to another area either where we can't see him or where he can lay and at least pretend to sleep. When he does this he is very calm. He relaxes while we eat because he settles into what we expect of him. I know it sounds harsh to be so strict with him, but consider the outcome if none of these rules were in place. He would be a begger and people wouldn't welcome him the way they do. Meal times would be a whining session of "give me more please" from him AND he would more than likely become fat from being over fed.
So having the strict rule allows him to calmly accept and relax into his expected behavior. It allows peaceful meals for us. It allows me to take him to restaurants, buffet lines, parties and not have to worry too much about his behavior. Honestly, the biggest problem is when people want to feed him. Allowing this would un-do his training quickly. As a matter of fact, enough of it has happened that I can't trust him to behave when I'm not watching. People have innocently fed him, seeing no harm in it, or snuck food to him to show him affection or "spoil" him a little.
I understand what causes people to do that. I only wish they would understand the instability it causes for Cooper when people change his rules. He becomes much less comfortable when I try to re-establish his boundaries. The alternative, if I don't re-establish his boundaries, he will become less welcomed, he will become a nuisance, and he would eventually loose his status as a service dog. This is what I'm constantly battling to maintain his behaviors for. He would be much more comfortable if people would just allow him to behave.