Ever notice that wet nose and those cold paws rubbing against your leg or lap while you’re sitting at the dinner table? Begging can be quite a nuisance to pet owners. While you may think that it’s inherent in dogs, it is a characteristic taught by those around them. Other dogs or even family members can pass this trait on through demonstration or offer food while it’s your meal time. Now your pup thinks that begging will eventually get the results they desire. If your pup is already a beggar, don’t fret, because it is never too late to break this irritating habit.
Signs of begging
Most likely, you will know right away if your pup is a beggar. When you eat, they will undoubtedly want a piece of the action. Pawing, staring, and even whimpering will be common, but be wary of aggressive behavior, as this is a sign that there may be something else awry.
Breaking the habit
What you’ll have to do is teach them that begging does not get results. The best place to start is not offering them any more scraps, especially while you’re eating. This is your meal time, and they need to learn that your food is not their food.
The best distraction is, of course, food. While you eat your meal, feed them as well. They will often be far too busy scarfing their meal down to be concerned with yours. It is best to place their eating spot in a separate room, away from crumbs and children’s “accidental” vegetable drops.
If you do feed your pup scraps though, do it the right way. Don’t let them eat off of your old dinner plates or off the kitchen floor. After you have finished your meal, and your pup has finished theirs, you can use scraps as a treat. Here is the important part- put the food in their dinner bowl so that they will understand that it is theirs. This is important for all their meals. This will help teach them that what they can eat is always offered to them in their personal tray. Just remember that human food can be unhealthy for dogs (for us too, sometimes), so try not to get carried away with scrap offerings.
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The biggest part of the habit break is separating them from your meal time. Remember, if there is no opportunity to beg, they will eventually learn to stop. If they do not obediently leave your eating area or continue to sneak in when they think you aren’t looking, it may be a good idea to use a crate. You don’t want them to fear the crate, so try not to treat it as punishment. Offer toys and even their meal or bone to comfort them during dinner time.
The best way to stop begging is not to allow it in the first place. Prevention is important, especially during their early, puppy months. Don’t let them get into the habit of cleaning plates, or let them eat from sneaky fingers under the table. Your pup looks to you as the leader of the pack, so you need to set a good example for them to follow.