Canines learn to rely on begging largely due to the success they’ve enjoyed by using it in the past. Owners often inadvertently encourage bad behavior. Sometimes, they’ll give in when their pet looks longingly at their plate during dinnertime. Sometimes, owners purposefully train their dogs to beg for food because they find it cute. The problem is, doing so reinforces the behavior.
If your pooch is begging to the point that he is beginning to make a nuisance of himself, it is important that you take steps the curb the habit. If you don’t, he may become more aggressive in his approach. A subtle whine and nudge on your leg might evolve into barking and pawing.
Below, we’ll offer several tips you can use to motivate your canine to stop begging. You’ll notice that none of the following suggestions use punishment as a training tool. Instead, the most effective way to modify unacceptable behaviors is to use positive reinforcement to encourage desired behaviors.
Tip 1 – Stop Providing Table Scraps
Consistency is the most important factor when trying to modify any habit in your pooch. To that end, you cannot hope to curb his begging if you reinforce that the behavior is successful. Stop giving him table scraps. If you have friends over for meals, let them know that they too, must not provide your dog with table scraps.
Tip 2 – Scheduling Mealtimes
If your dog receives two meals a day, serve them on an established schedule. If possible, give him his evening meal at the same time you and your family eat dinner (preferably in a different room). Not only will doing so keep him occupied while you’re eating, but he’ll learn that his food comes at specific times. That creates a disconnect between his meals and your own.
Tip 3 – Train Him To Wait
Throughout the day, take one of your canine’s favorite food treats, make sure he knows you have it, and hold it in your hand. If he is accustomed to begging, he will begin to do so. Do not give him the treat until he has calmed himself. Wait until he has sat down and stopped whining or barking. Once he has become calm, lower your hand and praise him while he takes the treat.
This process trains your dog to display patience and proper manners. Just as important, he will learn that begging does not yield the results he wants.
Tip 4 – Do Not Give In
One of the worst things you can do while proactively trying to curb your dog’s begging is to give in to the behavior. Many owners rationalize conceding table scraps and other food “just this once” when their canines start to beg. Unfortunately, doing so is counterproductive to all of the behavioral modification training that has taken place up to that point. Stick to your guns and realize that the training is, in some ways, a test of wills. Moreover, giving in makes the task more difficult in the future.
Dogs beg because they learn that doing so produces results. Use the suggestions above to gradually shape your pooch’s behavior into something you find more acceptable.