Begging is a nuisance.
We have all encountered that dog. You know the one who stares at you while you’re eating? Whose huge starving eyes watch as your fork reaches your mouth and wills food to drop on the floor? Begging is a behavior that can embarrass as well as frustrate not only the pet owner, but friends and family who come for a visit. If your dog shows these behaviors while you are sitting down to dinner, entertaining guests or even preparing a meal, there’s hope! There are some tactics that can help train this behavior out of your dog.
But first we need to learn and understand what begging is and where it comes from.
Begging is a learned behavior that is taught to the pet by the pet owner. When we share our food with our pets while preparing or eating a meal, we are teaching them to expect food whenever we eat. As humans, it is part of our nature to provide for others by offering food just as it is your pet’s nature to seek out different foods to eat. Dogs and cats alike will exploit human behaviors to get what they want so it is pretty important to set limits. Establishing rules around food is a great way to teach your dog when and what he is allowed to eat. So how do you stop your dog from begging once he’s developed the habit? Here are some tips to improve canine manners.
Reward Only Behaviors You Like
To help train the begging out of your dog you must learn to ignore the bad behavior. Dogs will complain about being ignored and they will do everything they can to get your attention. Barking is a dog’s most common tool for attention. Whining, jumping and even howling are other attention-seeking behaviors that dogs will use to their advantage. Ignore them!
Stand your ground and do not give in. This can be quite difficult to do as dogs can be very persistent. Everyone in the household must adhere to ignoring begging behavior. It can take days or even weeks of ignoring bad behavior before your dog begins to understand that he won’t get any results. Only reward the behaviors you approve of and remember that one slip could undo any progress you make.
If your dogs begging behavior occurs during meal time, it is important that you set and maintain some rules. It is recommended to feed your pet after your meal is finished. Maintaining this order of meal times will teach your dog that his food will come, but only after you have finished yours.
Use a Specific Command
Some popular commands where food is present are ‘Out or ‘Down’. These are commands you can teach your dog at meal times. ‘Out’ is a command used to teach your dog to leave the room. It teaches him that during mealtime, his place is not at the dinner table. By teaching your dog to leave the room, you provide an environment that keeps your dog out from underfoot. Your dog can spend meal times outdoors or enjoying a chew toy in another area of your home. This allows for a safer kitchen and one where many people can gather and socialize before a meal. Teaching your dog ‘Down’ is another command you can use if you’d prefer having your dog in the same room throughout your meal. Since this command grants your dog permission to join you while you eat, it is helpful if your dog has first learned when it is his time to eat.
Remember, when training your pet it is very important to be consistent. One simple slip can undo days or weeks of training so it is very important to communicate what you are training to accomplish. Don’t hesitate to tell your family and friends when they come over that you and your dog have set meal times and ask them to be respectful of your training. Encourage them to participate by not feeding snacks or handouts while they enjoy your dog’s company. Rewarding your dog with pats and scratches behind the ears will grow and deepen the bond between you in ways more satisfying than a simple snack.