How To Stop Your Dog From Begging

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I’m no stranger to being surrounded by a pack of dogs gazing at me with that overwhelmingly adorable yet pathetic stare that pooches tend to display either at the dinner table or any time a morsel of food should appear. It’s important to keep in mind that even if a dog is not jumping and whining, that loving stare is considered “begging.”

Begging is a learned behavior which is usually unconsciously reinforced. Many of us see our pets as members of the family, so it’s extremely natural for us to want to share with them. Although it gets annoying to have a pet begging at the dinner table, we have a tendency to block it out and let it continue. One minute we might yell, “Stop begging!” at the guilty dog, but the next minute we feel bad and feed him something. This is exactly where the problem begins.

The moment you give in and offer your pet even a morsel of food, you’re reinforcing begging behavior by teaching the dog that if he hangs in there and has the patience to wait, he will be rewarded with a taste. Dogs can be very patient: some will jump and whine and carry on, but many will just sit, stare and wait.

Dogs are pack animals, and in their natural habitat the social order would be ranked in a hierarchy with the leader of the pack — known as the “alpha dog” — dominating. Pet owners should be aware that “the pack” instinct remains intact even in domesticated dogs, and that they must take on the alpha role in order to discipline their pets. Once you firmly establish that role, you can more easily take control of bad habits.

So how do you stop the begging? The easiest way to stop your pooch from begging is to not let it begin in the first place. If you are bringing a new pet into your home, establish rules and stick to them, eg don’t let that cute little face get the best of you. It’s natural to want to spoil a new pet, but instead of table scraps give him food and treats formulated specifically for him. If your toddler wanted to eat a puppy treat, you would redirect him to an appropriate snack. Do the same for your pup. Some human food can even be harmful to dogs.

If your pet is already begging it will be harder to break the habit, but it can be done. Start by feeding your dog at the same time you eat your meals and removing him from the kitchen or dining room while you eat to eliminate temptation. Before you sit down to eat, put your pet in another room where his food has been set up. He might resist at first, but if you stick with it, you will establish habits that will make dining much more pleasant for both of you.

If you want to stop the begging for good, eliminate human food from your pet’s diet entirely. When you are snacking, avoid sharing with him no matter how much you want to and give him a doggy treat instead. It will satisfy him, and it’s much healthier in the long run.

(source)

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