Tip of the Month

4/26/2010 “No Begging!” How to keep your pooch from pawing at your plate

It is difficult to peacefully enjoy your meal when there is a constant, nudging paw tapping on your knees, or a sad-faced puppy with his chin in your lap, hungrily eyeing every bite of food that you spoon into your mouth. Begging is an annoying behavior that is easily manifested, and difficult to get rid of. The story is always the same. You feel guilty eating your comparatively divine cuisine whilst your doe-eyed dog watches sadly from the background, and eventually, relent into feeding him a few scraps off of your plate. You figure that it was just a tiny piece of chicken, and tossing him the leftover pieces that you did not plan on eating anyways will not be harmful.

However, once your dog gets used to the idea that he can weasel some food off of your plate with one, doleful look, this behavior can become obsessive and highly irritating. House guests, family members, nobody will be safe from your dog’s begging ways, and allowing the bad behavior to get past a certain point could cause him to become aggressive around food.

The best way to ensure that your dog does not become a beggar is to prevent the issues from occurring early on. If you can train dogs not to beg from the beginning, it will be highly beneficial to them, as well as yourself. If your pooch has already developed these habits, it is difficult, but not impossible to repair the damage with a few simple steps. The following tips will assist you in keeping your dog from skulking around the dinner table, and will also prove to be a great lesson in dog obedience.

First and foremost, it was likely that you were the one to teach your dog that it was acceptable to beg at the table. So, you must be the one to end it. Whilst you are eating your dinner, if your dog is in the room, he has probably already taken up his usual post at your feet, waiting expectantly for you to hand him a morsel. In this instance, it is best to ignore your dog’s advances, until he learns that his attempts are futile, and gives up.

Another vital factor in this dog training exercise is to let the other occupants of your home in on the plan, and make sure that they all follow the ground rules that you are setting. Having everyone agree to cease feeding the dog human food will aid your efforts to end the behavior. For instance, if you are refusing to give the dog a bite of your hamburger, but your kids are handing him green beans under the table, your attempts will prove to be counter productive. With teamwork, your pal will find nobody to turn to when he tries to continue begging.

Unfortunately, your pooch has already become attuned to the idea that with enough hard work, he can get whatever he wants from you, and will begin to add whining, barking, and howling to the typical routine. The important thing to do here is to stay strong, and continue to pay him no heed.

If your pooch is still standing, it is likely that he will move on to plan B, and begin trying to steal food from your plate, as well as your counter top when you are not paying attention. A useful tactic to employ at this point is keeping your dog in a separate room while your family has dinner, and making sure that he cannot see you. The best way to teach him that you are the alpha in the pack is by feeding him after you finish your own meal. Although it may seem like a better idea for him to be distracted by his own food, your dog needs to learn that you are the boss, and that humans come first.

The most important part of teaching your dog to stop begging is to stick to the plan with dedication and determination. By employing these tips, you will be on the path to having a healthier, more well-behaved puppy that your friends and family won’t mind having around.

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