Begging is one of the most common behavioral issues that dog owners have to face. If not handled properly, it becomes a habit. This can prove very frustrating in the long term. Training pups isn’t always easy, but with a little patience, it can be very rewarding.
You’ll have your pup happily awaiting his own food, instead of yours, in no time – with some help. Let’s take a look at a few pointers to get you started:
Have Your Dog Eat With You
A good way to start the process is by scheduling your pup’s meals with your own. Partially, dogs beg for food because it’s tasty; they also beg to be a part of the family. Dogs see eating meals together as a social event. When you shoo him away, he’ll feel rejected.
As soon as you put your food on the table, fill his bowl too. It’s a good idea to keep his bowl near your table, at first, so he feels connected during meal times. Your pup will invariably beg for your food because it smells so much better than his, but try not to pay him any mind.
Concentrate on Your Food
When your pup looks at his dog chow and then looks at yours, he’ll beg at first. Resist looking his way! The more often you look over at his sad puppy eyes, the harder it is not to slip him some table scraps. It’s also reinforcing his begging as a behavior.
Focus on enjoying your meal instead. Your dog may amp his whines up to a bark to get your attention, but don’t give in. He’ll get the message over time that this food is not available no matter how he behaves.
Once you set your eyes on a no-begging house, keep them aimed at the goal. Avoid “just this once” scenarios as well as “a little won’t hurt”. Any caving on your part will undo hours of work! It will establish an intermittent reinforcement response with your pup, essentially training him that begging works. Once the pattern is established, it’s significantly more difficult to break.
Staying consistent in training dogs not to beg is critical. However, accidents do happen. A child may drop food on the ground, which your dog will immediately pounce on. If this happens, don’t provide any feedback to your dog whatsoever. Remain calm and go on with your meal. The connection between the temporary adrenaline rush and accompanying food will fade over time.
Set Rules Within the Family
Barring accidents, everyone in the family needs to be on board with training. If someone intentionally sneaks him food during dinner, it will set him back weeks of training. Just remind everyone that his food is tasty enough for him and that eating “people” food may hurt him in the long run. It’s not designed for dogs, after all.
Patience is the Key
Changing a behavioral pattern takes time, especially for behavior that’s so innate. If everyone is steady, patient, and kind throughout the process, it will be smooth sailing. Just remember: stay strong if you don’t like being pestered by a puppy while you eat.