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How to stop a dog from begging can be a tricky question to answer. After all, it comes naturally to dogs. Many people also find it difficult to resist a dog begging for food. To stop begging behaviors, prevention is preferable, but a rewarded and learned behavior can still be untaught. You must be consistent and patient if you want your dog to stop begging for food. It helps to understand why your dog begs, how you may have accidentally encouraged it, and how to give your dog directions or distractions to stop Fido from this annoying and unwanted pattern.
Why Dogs Beg
Dogs are highly motivated by food. They are pack animals that share their meals, as well. Over generations, they have learned to take food from people and to associate that food with positive things. When wolves began to become domesticated dogs, the people undertaking this task used food for rewards. The begging behavior for dogs, then, is not a rude thing to do. It is following a deeply ingrained instinct. Modern dogs are hardwired in this behavior, so training a dog away from it is challenging. It is also, however, deeply rewarding to have a mannerly pup with whom you can share food on your own terms.
Construction of a Behavior
Food is a powerful tool for developing canine behaviors. Offering food as an immediate reward when your pup performs a behavior that you want to encourage will help cement that behavior in your dog’s mind as a worthwhile task to perform. This means that, when your dog begs and you offer a tasty tidbit, you are helping to form a positive impression in your dog’s mind. Begging results in food, therefore your dog will continue to beg.
Reinforcement Rewards Bad Behavior
When you offer occasional scraps to your dog while you cook or eat, you reinforce this idea in your dog’s mind. Maybe you simply cannot endure the big soft eyes and sneak treats to your dog, or maybe you have a habit of accidentally dropping scraps or knocking them from the counter as you cook. Either way, your dog associates the action of begging and of crowding your space in the kitchen with tasty rewards. When your dog has access to food in an area, for whatever reason, that area becomes more attractive.
Common Begging Myth
Many people believe that feeding dogs any human food, in any amount and under any circumstances, encourages begging. Fortunately, this is not the case. You can share portions of many of your food choices with your dog. You must simply be sure to do so in the proper fashion. Never reward begging with treats or attention. Have a particular place or time or behavior that results in the sharing of your meal’s scraps. For example, instruct your pup to go to the kitchen doorway, rather than crowding your cooking area, to be rewarded with a morsel.
Prevention is Key
If you have a new canine, whether it is a puppy or a rescue, you can prevent begging from the very beginning with a simple rule. This rule is never to feed your dog in your eating space. Remember context when you consider the behaviors associated with begging. A dog that learns that a plateful of food means food for both of you, particularly with whining encouragement, is a dog that you have taught to beg. If at all possible, teach your dog from the get-go that begging will not result in any sort of reward.
Manage the Environment
To inform your pup that no benefit is forthcoming when it lurks around the kitchen or table, manage your environment. Set things up so that your dog finds it difficult or impossible to err. Get everyone in the family, as well as any visitors, in the unified purpose of discouraging begging. This means that nobody delivers food to the dog in the kitchen or at the table. Feeding your dog prior to sitting down to eat is one means of managing things to discourage your canine from seeking after food. An empty stomach may encourage your dog to beg.
How to Share Without Encouraging Begging
Try establishing a location that your dog can wait to receive tidbits. Deliver the food to your pup in a manner that encourages a properly maintained distance from cooking and eating areas. Try using a corner or a doorway. Show the dog a morsel. If your dog is interested, indicate the proper location and reward when your dog sits in that spot. This pattern informs your dog that no food will be forthcoming within a ten-foot radius of the preparation or eating areas. Sitting at a distance, your pal learns, is more likely to result in food than sitting close with big eyes and a soulful whimper.
Be Consistent with Rules
Establish rules and make sure the household stays unified in upholding them. If you never want your dog to have human food, never give any. Permit no exceptions. This is the preference of some, although much of the food you eat is perfectly fine for your dog, within reasonable limitations. A dog that overeats, either human food or dog food, is going to need special care to get back into a healthy trim state, or worse become obese. It is a pet owner’s responsibility to help an obese dog. If you do not want a dog begging at the table, never give food when the dog is next to the table. This is true of both human and dog food. If you want your dog away from the kitchen while you cook, never reward its presence with food in the kitchen.
Ignore Their Efforts
It may be easier to say than to achieve, but do not give in to your dog’s begging behaviors . Train your dog in such a way that these attention-seeking behaviors are discouraged. A long-term approach is necessary to build good habits and break bad ones. Any attention or food will reward these behaviors, so while ignoring them may be difficult, hold strong and remain resolute.
Be Consistent with Discipline
If you maintain a consistent pattern of ignoring your dog when it tries to beg, you will teach your dog that this behavior is not worthwhile. If your dog ignores you while you eat, or goes to the place you wish the dog to return to while you are dining or preparing food, feel free to reward with a positive word. Remember that consistency is always important, but even more so with begging puppies. Such young dogs are easily shaped into behaviors that will grow more concrete as they grow older. Start out the way you want to continue.
Discipline Does Not Mean Punishment
A begging puppy or dog may be troublesome to ignore, but punishment is attention and may encourage the behavior. Scolding does not seem pleasant to us, but for a dog, it can still be interpreted as attention that reinforces an unwanted type of action . Be disciplined, but do not punish.
Breaking Established Begging Habits
While prevention is preferable, sometimes a dog has already learned that begging results in tasty food. In these circumstances, it is important to get started as soon as you can in establishing proper behaviors. Teaching a dog that begging does not work when it has learned differently in the past can be difficult. However, remain firm and consistent. Get the agreement of the entire household. Just one person going against the pattern will throw a wrench in your dog’s training.
Changing learned behaviors takes time. You will not see instant results in breaking your dog’s habit of begging. All dogs vary but are prepared for a long-term commitment to patterns of proper conduct. Be patient. You will see progress in time if you stick to your rules.
Teach a Place Command
A dog’s place may be a dog crate, a dog bed, cushion, spot on the floor, or some other marker. When preparing food or sitting down to eat, instruct your dog to go to their place or spot. At first, this will involve physically guiding the dog to the spot with a dog leash. If the dog refuses to remain on the spot, remove them to another room, trying again later. Pair the action with the command to go to their place. Reward with a small treat that is not a table scrap upon reaching the spot. Crating is an option for a dog proving particularly stubborn while the training is gradually introduced.
Encourage Occupied Attention
Favorite chew toys, dog toys, or games that offer a challenge for your dog to figure out make good distractions during mealtimes. Try a treat-dispensing toy frozen with peanut butter or mashed banana inside. Try offering a simple and healthy dessert. Puzzle toys that encourage your dog to flip or slide pieces in grooves to reveal treats are also a positive way to occupy your dog’s attention. With these methods, your dog gets a special treat while everyone is eating, too.
Use Barriers or Ties
If you prefer not to teach the place command or need some assistance while the place command is still a work in progress, try tethering your dog to something sturdy with a tie-out while the humans eat . Another option is a baby gate that keeps your dog from the table area. Once you have finished and released your dog, be sure to spend some special time together. Do something fun, go for a quick walk, or offer special snuggles.
Nothing Free in Life
Many trainers will advise their clients that every reward must be earned. Rewards are not limited to food. They do include treats but also feature attention, playtime, walks, a particular toy, or anything else favored by your dog. Put your dog in a sit position to wait for you to offer even dog food. Your dog will learn that favored behaviors bring about good things. This lines up nicely with having your dog go to a particular place to be rewarded with a snack from the table when working to stop a dog from begging. Your canine pal likes to please you, and you like to reward your pup, so this should be a cycle of positive reinforcement that leads to desirable conduct.
Remain consistent in your training if you want to prevent or stop your dog from begging behaviors. You can even instruct your canine when out and about, to reject food. A strong command to leave it should suffice. Teaching this involves having a small treat in your hand. Let your dog sniff the hand and give your chosen command. When the dog turns its head away, praise with a reinforcement of the command and give a different treat. Keep this up until you can leave your hand open and have your dog leave the treat alone. Eventually, you can use the command on any undesirable thing your pup might be pursuing, from unknown food on the sidewalk to animal droppings on the lawn.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why is my dog constantly begging for food?
Your pup has a long line of ancestors who succeeded in domestication because of food rewards. You may also have encouraged the behavior, whether meaning to or not. Dogs beg because they want food, to share in what you are doing, and know no better. Try offering dog food when you have your dinner, but be sure to keep an eye out to prevent gastric dilatation or bloating which your dog can get when food is consumed too fast out of excitement.
How do you get a dog to quit begging?
To stop your dog from begging, you can follow several strategies. First, never reward begging. Second, give your dog a diversionary command or distracting toy. You can also try giving your pup dog food at your mealtime. Finally, train your dog to know that being a certain distance away from the action can result in the desired treat.
How long does it take a dog to stop begging?
Every dog is different. Some dogs have had years to learn the behavior that you want to halt. Others are puppies just obeying instincts. To stop a dog from begging, it can take days or months, depending on how ingrained the behavior is and how motivated your dog is to learn.
Should you ignore a begging dog?
Yes. Any attention given to a begging dog can be considered as a reward. The dog then learns that begging earns good things, even if it is not a bit of food.