A common complaint among pet parents , heard around many dining tables, is that the dog begs during meals and in doing so creates a nuisance. Many dog owners find it challenging to break their dog of this habit, and don’t realize they may be contributing to the problem.However, if you can dedicate yourself to breaking the cycle of begging for a few weeks, the problem can usually be resolved.
How To Prevent Your Dog From Begging
- Sometimes it’s easiest to solve a problem by preventing it from happening. If you’d rather your dog leave you alone while you eat, you can use a baby gate to confine her to another room when you sit down for a meal. Or, if your dog is crate trained, you can put her in her crate while you eat. To keep her busy and quiet, try giving your dog a chew bone, her dinner or a toy stuffed with something delicious.
- If you’d like your dog to stay in the same room with you but refrain from loitering right next to the table or drooling on your feet, you can use a tether to keep her in her own space. Attach a short leash or tether (four- to six-feet long) to a heavy piece of furniture or an eye-hook in the baseboard. Put a soft bed or mat next to the tether. Before sitting down to eat, lead your dog to her comfy spot, and attach the leash or tether to her collar. Then give her something to chew or a toy stuffed with treats. After you finish your meal, you can release her from the tether. As long as you give your dog a tasty treat of her own to work on while you eat, she’ll enjoy settling in her special spot during mealtimes. (A word of caution: Do not leave your dog unattended while she’s tethered. She could get tangled in the tether and injure herself.)
- Also tell every member of your family to quit giving your dog food from the table, food from the couch, food from the chair, food from the desk etc. He should only be eating food from his bowl.
The most basic and important step in the process of undoing the negative training that has led to begging is to stop feeding the dog from the table. Most people give in every once in a while and give some scraps to their begging dog, and this reinforces the undesirable behavior. Refusing to acknowledge your dog when you are eating is crucial to both preventing a begging habit and stopping an existing problem. No matter how much your dog barks, whines, or stares at you when you eat, do not feed it.
- Dogs are relatively simple creatures. If they perform a behavior that results in a reward, they will repeat the behavior expecting a reward in the future. If a behavior does not result in a payoff, they will have no reason to repeat it. Some dogs will just sit and look at you, while others will whine at you until they get what they want. Some dogs may bark, paw you or climb up to the chair next to you. If you feed them or pet the dog when it does these things, you reward the behavior with a treat or pat on the head. A food reward is a very common payoff, but throwing a ball or giving the dog attention is also a form of positive reinforcement.
- Unless you are giving the dog a command, don’t give your dog attention by talking to it, or even mentioning its name.No matter how frustrated you get, do not yell at a begging dog. Attention of any kind, even such negative attention, can reinforce the begging behavior.
- Even making eye-contact with your dog is a form of attention, which rewards the behavior you are trying to extinguish. Even the most subtle attention can encourage the begging behavior.
Feeding your dog appropriate people-food leftovers is perfectly fine. As long as the leftovers are placed in the dog’s bowl and the bowl is placed in his usual feeding spot and he has to give you a sit before he gets anything.
The key here is to be consistent and patient. Food is of high value to a dog and if you’re trying to break behavior YOU created don’t blame the dog if it takes a while. You and your dog can break this bad habit together.
Make sure even your guests follow your rules and do not feed the dog off their plate as “Opportunity Barks!”. For everybody loves a well behaved dog and nobody really enjoys eating their meal in front of a drooling one!!