It’s cute to see dogs sit up and wave their front legs when they are excited or want something and how many funny pictures of dogs do we see on the internet of them begging or looking sad? Dogs have a way of making us laugh, say “awww,” and also of sometimes driving us nuts. Begging can be really cute but it can also become a huge problem. It’s one thing if your dog watches and hopes for a scrap of food but it’s another thing if he’s right next to you and tries to grab it off the plate.
Here are 5 tips to help curb this unwanted behavior:
1: Stop giving food – this may seem like common sense but it’s not easy to break a habit that you created and have conditioned your dog to do. The whine, the sad eyes, and the deep soulful looks are tools used to get food. Why? Because it’s worked before. Giving food is a way of showing affection and reinforcing a bond but giving people food also reinforces this begging behavior. Break the cycle and start a new trend. Try giving him dog treats or his food after he has worked for it by sitting patiently or doing a few tricks. By asking your dog to do something and then rewarding the behavior, you’ll reinforce the parent/child relationship or leader/follower as some may call it.
2: Don’t feel bad – Your dog isn’t starving. He’s not out in the yard or roaming the streets for food. You feed him everyday and he’s not in any danger of going hungry. Plus, remember that the ingredients in some foods aren’t good for your dog like sugars and some preservatives.
3: Ignore the begging – Begging is a way for a dog to get attention. It is their way of saying “I want” and it has worked. By ignoring the behavior your dog will figure out that begging isn’t working. This may take some work. Your dog may try to sit right in front of you, get right in your face, or paw at you. Try to not look at him, speak to him, or touch him. Let him know that you are no longer going to give in or reinforce this type of behavior.
4: Be consistent – Don’t give in after days of not giving in. It’ll undo all the retraining and put you and your pup back at square one.
5: Stay cool – Your dog won’t change overnight and you may find yourself frustrated with the slow progress. Just remember everything takes time and in the end, you’ll have a better behaved and healthier dog.