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Teaching Your Dog Not To Beg

Teaching Your Dog Not To Beg

how do you teach your dog not to beg
how to teach your dog not to beg

How Do You Teach Your Dog Not To Beg

You sit down to a delicious meal of pork tenderloin, mashed potatoes and green beans. As you lift the first tantalizing bite to your mouth, you dog is right there at your side – staring at you with those big, brown eyes. Has he no dignity?

That all depends on how he was raised. Begging is a learned behavior – meaning he was rewarded for it in the past, so he's learned that it works. Some dogs utilize a silent stare, while other dogs opt for a more proactive approach with nudging, pawing and even barking. This can range from mildly annoying to completely ruining a meal – it's best to never teach this behavior in the first place, although many people do so unwittingly and then have to deal with a dog who's pushy at meal time.

How a Dog Learns That Begging Works

Any time you give a dog food from your plate (or while preparing a meal) just because he expresses a desire for it, you are teaching that dog to beg. You're sending him a very clear message: "If you want what I'm eating, just beg for it and you'll get it."

It may seem hard, but you must resist giving your dog food while you're eating, preparing a meal, or doing anything else except feeding him his own meal. Giving your dog a bite or 2 from whatever you're eating may seem like a loving thing to do, but remember – if you give your dog an inch, he will take a mile. Dogs are just hard-wired to be that way, being opportunistic animals. It only takes giving your dog a morsel from dinner once to teach him to beg, and once he learns this behavior it is very hard to get him to stop.

An Ounce of Prevention is Worth a Pound of Cure

Teaching your dog not to beg is very simple: never feed him from your plate (or from your bag of chips, or while you're making a sandwich, etc). Ignore him completely while you're doing any of these things – don't make eye contact, talk to him or reprimand him. He'll quickly learn that he has nothing to gain from begging. You might even teach him to sit or lie down and stay (several feet away from you) while you eat. The key here is to NEVER give in, not even once. You must teach him that there will never be an opportunity for him to get a treat from you while you're eating. While training, you may reward him with praise or a treat AFTER you're finished eating, although nothing from your plate.

Breaking the Begging Habit

If your dog has already learned to beg, here are some tips on getting him to stop:

Stick to a consistent feeding schedule for your dog. For instance, feed him twice daily at 7 a.m. and 6 p.m. Feed him only his dog food so that there is no confusion over what is human food and what is dog food.

Feed your dog at the same time or after you sit down to eat, and feed him in a separate location from where you're eating.

If necessary, crate your dog so that he is not free to roam (and beg) at mealtimes, but make sure he has something to do when confined. Give him a toy or something to chew on.

If he does beg, say "No!" once in a stern voice and then ignore him after that. Never give in to begging after you have told him "no" – not even once. Recognize begging for what it is and stand fast against continued requests.

Do not feed your dog table scraps, even if you put them in his own bowl after you've finished eating. This still encourages begging behavior, and more importantly, there are common ingredients in human food that can be toxic to your dog (like onions and garlic).

Remember that this – like all learned behaviors – will get worse before it gets better. Don't let that weaken your resolve. Your dog will eventually stop trying something that doesn't work.

When you do give your dog a treat at an appropriate time, hold the treat in your closed hand at first. As your dog nudges, paws, and licks your hand, keep it closed. When he finally acknowledges that you are in control by sitting patiently without trying to get at the treat, say "OK" and open your hand. You are now training an acceptable behavior – waiting for a command (more appropriately, a cue) before the treat is given. The message he'll learn is that good manners work; bad manners don't.

Punishment is never appropriate in this case. Your dog won't understand why he's being punished and will just wind up being confused.

A well-mannered dog is a pleasure to have around, so remember: the decision to reward or not reward should be made by you, not coaxed by the dog. Be in charge – as your faithful friend and follower, your dog will respect your lead.