There are so many videos online showing a dog begging for food. They look adorable and would make you believe that they are almost human. Not everyone finds this amusing, however. There are pet parents who may find this canine behavior very annoying. Imagine having dinner and your dog is pawing on your legs to give you a morsel of what you’re having. Enjoying snacks while watching TV with your dog sporting its sad, doleful look can also take your concentration off the screen. If you have this kind of dog and you want to put a stop to its annoying begging behavior, there are some things you can do.
Stop Encouraging or Rewarding the Behavior
It is very difficult to resist the pleading gaze and the soft whine of a dog constantly begging for food. There are some breeds that have a natural sad look on their face. When combined with other “gentle” behaviors, it is not easy to refrain from tossing a slice or two of your food. The problem with this, of course, is that you are encouraging the behavior. Giving in to your dog’s pleading gaze even once can already solidify the unnecessary begging. This can make it very challenging to put a stop to such behavior.
There are no foolproof ways to rein in your natural tendency to share whatever you have with your dog. One way you can somehow control yourself is by thinking about the impact of such a behavior on your dog’s health. If you give your pet table scraps or any human food item, there’s the chance that it will grow obese. Canine obesity can lead to other health problems like diabetes, heart disease, and issues in mobility. Think of the expenses that you will incur should your dog develop any of these health conditions. This should be enough motivation for you not to give in to your dog’s begging.
Teach Your Dog to Stay in its Place
One very effective way to address the issue of your dog constantly begging for food is to teach it to stay in its place. For this to work, you’ll need a treat and a clicker to mark the desired behavior. Find a place where you want the dog to “stay” whenever you don’t want it disturbing anybody else. It can be its doggie bed, pet crate, or a simple yet comfortable mat.
Start by asking the dog to go in the “down” position. Say “place” and extend your hand as if you’re stopping vehicles on a busy intersection. Count 1 to 3, activate the clicker, and give its yummy treat. If you don’t have a clicker, then a verbal cue will suffice. After counting to 3 and your dog stayed in its place, say “yes” and give its treat. Do this a few times, then gradually increase your distance from the dog’s place. Remember the sequence: “down”, “place”, step backwards, click or say “yes”, and reward.
If the dog stands up before you get to the “yes” or clicker marker, resist the temptation to yell at it. Don’t click and don’t give its reward. This is enough to deliver the message to your dog.
Whenever you’re having a meal, you can always say “place” and your dog will go to its place. If it fails to stay in its place during your meal, take your dog out of the room for a minute or two. When you return, command it to go to its “place” again.
Keep Your Pet Busy with Other Things
Another effective way to stop a dog begging for food is to give it something more interesting to do. This works by diverting its attention from the food on your table to something that is more interesting or, at least, equally appealing. For many pet parents, using special dog puzzle toys helps. The KONG Classic dog toy is perfect for such a task. There are other dog toys that have the same function, of course.
These toys can accomplish at least two things. First, they can keep your dog’s mind off the food that you are enjoying at the moment. Since its focus is on the toy, then it will no longer have to display that pleading gaze. The trick here is to use a treat that the dog considers to be more delicious than what you have. Also, the design of these toys does not grant the hound easy access to the food. What this means is that it will be very busy trying to get the food out of the dog toy.
Second, such gadgets can foster your pet’s natural chewing tendencies. What you are providing your pet is a very satisfying experience. You may already be done with your meal, but your dog may still be enjoying itself with the toy.
Coincide Your Dog’s Mealtime with Yours
There is another method that pet parents use to teach their dogs to stop begging for food. They synchronize doggie mealtimes with their own. What they do is they prepare their pet’s food before they set the table for a meal. Before starting on their meal, they place the bowl of dog food on the floor. There’s a tendency for the dog to ignore its food and instead beg you to give some from your plate. Ignore this. You’re having your meal and your dog should also have his.
Pick up the dog food bowl once you’re done with your meal. If you notice the dog didn’t touch its meal, never mind. Observe this procedure again during your next meal. Sooner or later your canine friend will realize that it should eat its own meal whenever you sit down to enjoy your own food. Otherwise, you will pick up its food bowl and leave it going hungry. It may be a cruel way to teach your pet, but it does work.
Stopping your dog from begging for food can be quite challenging if you do not show discipline yourself. The most important thing to remember here is to never reward or encourage a behavior you don’t want to see in your dog.