Begging is a common behavior problem faced by dog owners. It can be frustrating to have your dog hounding you for food every time you take out a snack or sit down to a meal. Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to stop your dog from begging.
Don't Reward the Behavior
Managing this behavior is one of the toughest parts for dog owners. When confronted with a pair of pleading puppy eyes, it can be hard not to give in once in a while and toss a little nibble from your plate or snack bowl. Unfortunately, if you give in even once, it’s going to be that much harder to put an end to this behavior.
When you’re trying to train yourself not to give in, it may help to keep your dog’s health in mind. It’s much easier to resist feeding the dog scraps from your own plate if you remember that it can lead to obesity and a number of health problems for your pet down the road.
Use a "Place" Command
One way to stop dogs from begging is to teach your dog to go to its place on command. The "place" can be anything from the rug under the sink to the dog's crate.
Practice this command, and whenever you sit down to a meal, have your dog go to its place. If it fails to remain there while you’re eating, put the dog out of the room (or leave the room yourself, if that’s easier) for a minute or two, and then come back together and try again.
Keep the Dog Occupied
You can save a special toy, such as a stuffed Kong toy, to give your dog during your own mealtimes. This will keep the dog occupied with something it enjoys and gives you the opportunity to enjoy your own meal in peace.
Another option is to feed your dog at the same time you are having your meal. Place the food down for the duration of your meal. Ignore the dog if it comes to you and begs. When your meal is over, pick up the food bowl whether it has been eaten or not. Your dog will quickly learn that it needs to eat its own food at mealtimes if it doesn’t want to go hungry.
Make Your Dog Work for It
Many dog trainers recommend training a dog that they must work for any reward, a method often referred to as "nothing in life is free." Rewards include food, attention, walks, and anything else your dog enjoys.
Have your dog sit before you put its food bowl down or wait until you give the OK before it charges out into the yard. Your dog will quickly learn the behaviors you like (i.e. the ones that get it what it wants). You should see fewer of the unwanted behaviors like begging because it will never get rewarded for this type of behavior.
Problems and Proofing Behavior
The key to stopping a dog from begging is consistency. If you have a puppy who never gets a taste of human food, it won't know how delicious that food is and what it is missing. It's important that anyone who eats around your dog is on the same page. Make a rule in your house that no one feeds the dog anything other than its own food and treats. When you have visitors, make sure they know this as well.
As much as you try to keep this no-food rule at home, you need to be just as vigilant when you take your dog anywhere else that there is food. Be sure to let your friends and family know that your dog gets no food at picnics, cookouts, and when you come to visit. They should respect your wishes.
If you want to take this training a step further, you can actually teach your dog to reject food. Admittedly, this is very difficult because most dogs will devour anything edible they can get their teeth on. This is actually a fun trick in which your dog learns to turn its head to a treat when given a verbal cue such as "yuck" and you bop their nose with the treat. During training, it's not until you use your release word that the dog gets the treat. With patience and consistency, most dogs can learn to refuse food this way within a few weeks. It gives you one more line of defense whenever your dog begs for people food.