Breaking Your Dog's Begging Habit
It's so cute in the beginning.
Your dog is sitting at your side while you eat, looking up at you with big sad eyes, wanting table scraps. How can you say no to that face? You were getting full and weren't going to eat all your dinner anyway.
Over time, however, cute things can become annoying. Just like your once-favorite song played on repeat, the dog's begging habit has lost its charm. If you relate to this struggle, keep reading. There is still hope!
Tip #1: Don’t Give In
Tip number one happens to be the most critical tip. In theory, it should be easy. After all, how hard is it not to do something? In reality, not only does it require you to resist those sad eyes and cute tail wiggles, but it also requires the entire household to present a unified front. No food from the table, at all. It can be especially tricky if you have a baby who may not be feeding the dog on purpose or have any understanding of why the doggie does not get to eat what the people do! Some babies think it is a fun game to throw food to the dog!
If you give in, you undo all the work you have done. If you stay consistent with just ignoring the pleas for a few weeks, they will give up on their own. If you have a stubborn dog, you may need to try different methods and keep doing it for a longer period.
Tip #2: Feed Them First
It is an easily forgotten solution that tends to have a noticeable impact. If your dog doesn't free feed, prepare your dog’s dinner right before you sit down to eat yours. Feed your dog in a different room too. With a full belly, your puppy should have a lessened appetite. You’ll also feel less guilty about not sharing since your fur friend just ate.
If you do free feed, you may need to come up with another food-related treat. A yummy filled Kong or a puzzle box with treats can provide the distraction your dog needs to keep them from hovering around the table. They smell the food you’re eating, and they’re going to want a treat or food. Redirecting that hunger into something more appropriate is ideal - it’s a natural solution to their instinct, and everyone is happy!
Tip #3: Restrict Access to Your Dining Area
You may need to keep your dog away from your dining area entirely while you are eating. It could be because your dog is ridiculously adorable and hard to deny, or it may be because your dog is aggressive about begging. Maybe you have some messy eaters at the table, and you aren’t faster than your dog.
How do you restrict access to your dining area? You have a couple of options. Baby gates work to section off some spaces from your home, and you may already have them available. If your dog is crate trained or has a designated spot to go to, secure them in that location until eating is over. You can even give them a treat while they’re in there to make it more fun.
If you don’t want to make isolation part of the permanent routine for your family, do it for a few weeks, then try just giving your dog a treat as a distraction and encouraging them to do something else. If they fall right back into begging, you’ll have to go back to cutting them off from the dining area until they catch on.
Tip #4: Reward Good Behavior
The most effective technique for long term change in your dog is treating them for good behavior. Reward your puppy every time they do not beg. Start with ignoring your pup when they ask for food. Then, when your canine friend starts to get bored and leaves, you give them praise and throw them treats- away from the table. That’s very important- the further you get them away from the table, the better. They need to learn that when they stay away from the food, they get treats! Eventually, your dog will make the association that being near the table gets them nothing while staying away gets them treats and praise.
While you’re going through this training, remember that you have to give your dog something else to do rather than beg. Quiet time, dinner time, solo playtime, whatever it is, if you don’t replace the unwanted behavior with another behavior, it’s going to be a rough transition for your pup. Most of these tips involve doing just that, so make sure you put the focus in the same place.
Good luck, dog lover - be strong. Your dog will still love you even if you don’t give it your last bite of chicken.