Dogs can be cute, heart-breaking and irresistible when they whine, paw, bark or otherwise beg for a treat during dinnertime, but begging behavior isn't desirable. By understanding what begging is and isn't, dog owners don't need to feel bad about taking steps to stop their dog from begging.
What Begging Is and Isn't
Dogs beg in different ways, from whining and barking to gently pawing at your hand or leg, crouching near the table, staring or otherwise desperately seeking attention in the hopes of being rewarded with a treat. Many dog owners assume that a begging dog is a hungry dog, but that isn't the case. Instead, a dog begs out of curiosity and a desire for attention, even for dominance by controlling your behavior and forcing you to offer a tasty treat. Begging dogs aren't malnourished, and they don't need a treat. What they need is proper training and encouragement to have good table manners.
How to Stop Your Dog's Begging
There are many different techniques that can help stop a dog's begging behavior. Popular and effective options include…
- Keeping the dog away from the dining table at mealtimes. Ideally, the dog should be kept outdoors or in a different room. Using a baby gate or pet gate can keep them away, or if the dog is crate-trained, the owner's dinnertime can be crate time for the pet.
- Distract the dog from human food with its own dinner or a food-stuffed chewing toy. This will ensure the dog is not hungry, and will satisfy its chewing instincts while giving it a nice taste to enjoy without needing extra treats from the table.
- Train the dog to go to one designated spot – a crate, bed, corner, etc. – on command, and use that command firmly during mealtimes.
- Never feed the dog from the table or allow it to clean your plate after eating – these actions will only help the dog associate mealtime with treats and can encourage more begging.
- When a dog begs, do not give it any attention, not even negative attention. If the dog incites one response from you, it will increase its begging in order to get another response until it gets what it wants, the treats you don't want to give.
- Train your dog to respond to a "leave it" or "drop it" command to stop any undesirable behavior, and use that command firmly when the dog begins to beg. The same command can be used to stop unwanted chewing, jumping up or other poor canine manners.
- Refresh all of the dog's training, which will reinforce your position as the leader of your pet's pack. This will help the dog recognize your dominance more easily, and it will be more apt to respond to your commands to stop begging as well.
No matter what tactics you use to stop a dog begging, the key is consistency. Everyone in the family should use the same techniques to discourage begging, and it is never acceptable to relent – dogs can be incredibly persistent, and one extra table treat can undo weeks of training to discourage begging. With patience and consistency, however, it is possible to keep a dog from begging. They won't go hungry and they won't hate you for not offering a treat, but they will learn to be better behaved during mealtimes.