When our dogs are pups, everything they do is cute. If we’re not careful, though, those cute behaviors can become problematic later on. One problem most dog owners can agree needs to be addressed sooner rather than later: begging.
When not dealt with properly, your dog can become difficult to handle.
Guests may feel uncomfortable at your dog begging for food every time they sit down to eat.
What’s more, this begging can start to hurt your relationship with your dog.
Though begging may be an annoying behavioral problem, it is exactly that: a behavior. It is something your pup learned at some point, whether as part of a trick or just as a reward for making those unbelievably cute puppy eyes.
Just like we can help our dogs curb other behaviors, we can also help them to stop begging, too. Plus, despite the saying about old dogs and new tricks, it is never too late to train them.
With our following guide to get your dog to stop begging, you’ll have five steps to follow to get them behaving well in a few short weeks!
Step 1: Don’t Give Into Their Begging
Your dog is begging because he wants something. When you give in, they view it as a reward for their behavior, and that behavior is enforced.
The first step to managing your dog’s behavior is to stop rewarding it.
Look, we know as well as anyone how hard it is to tell your dog no. We also know how simple it is to just hand over a snack. However, even the smallest indulgence will encourage them.
The more they are encouraged, the more instilled the behavior becomes.
If you need additional support with this step, think of your dog’s health. When you overfeed your dog or get them off their schedule, it can lead to other health problems, including obesity.
Another thing to remember: your dog won’t just beg from you. So even if you’re thinking that the occasional snack from you won’t cause any problems, it’s often the case that your dog will show those pleading eyes to other people, too!
Step 2: Curb Behaviors With A Place Command
Part of the issue with your dog’s begging is that even if you don’t give in, they may just stay there looking on. They are patient, aren’t they?
After you’ve refused to give into their behavior, the next step is to get them to leave the table. This can be done by working on training your dog to go to a certain place on command.
It could be their bed, the welcome mat in the house, their crate, or some other agreed upon location.
To get the most out of this command, be sure to practice before it’s time to have dinner.
Once they have the command mastered, have them go to that place when you sit down to eat.
Step 3: Keep Your Pup Busy
As man’s best friend, our dogs do like to spend time with us. While it’s one of the best parts of having a dog, it can be complicated when you’re trying to undo their begging behavior.
To help distract them during dinner, give your dog its own special treat during dinner. One way is to actually time your dog’s dinner with yours.
In the beginning, your dog may come back to your side during dinner without finishing his meal.
That’s okay. Just be sure to pick up their bowl – regardless of whether there is food or not – and take it away.
Soon, they’ll learn that if they want their full meal, they’ll need to eat while you eat.
Step 4: With Work Comes Rewards
As employees, we rarely get paid if we haven’t done any work.
The same is true for your dog: rewards don’t come for free.
In your dog’s eyes, rewards can be treats, attention, walks, etc. Start by applying this concept throughout the day. Before you go out for a walk, have them follow a command. The same before dinner. And so on.
By showing that behaviors you like get rewarded, the less desirable behaviors should go away.
Step 5: Stay Consistent
Like teaching your dog other tricks or behaviors, you’ll need to be consistent.
Part of that consistency comes from making sure the other people in your dog’s life are on the same page. When family members come over for dinner, make sure to let them know you’re in the process of training your dog.
For dog sitters who might care for your dog while you’re out of town, be sure they’re mindful as well. A few slips of the hand and your dog could return right back to its begging ways!
Frequently Asked Questions About Dogs Begging
While these five steps are a great way to teach your dog not to beg, we know there are other questions you have, too. Below you’ll find answers to some of the most common questions about dogs begging.
Should I punish my dog for begging?
The best way to address your dog’s behavior is by ignoring it. Punishment, while negative, is still attention, and it can be interpreted by your dog as a reward for their attention-seeking behavior. By ignoring your dog, they will learn that their behavior doesn’t result in the reward they seek.
Why does my dog constantly beg at the table?
Dogs beg because our food is delicious. It tastes good. It smells good. Plus, their owners love it, so why shouldn’t they want it, too?
Ultimately, a dog begs because they’ve learned that when they do something, they get rewarded for it.
How long does it take for a dog to stop begging?
A dog can learn to stop begging for food within a few weeks. However, it is important to be consistent with your training, otherwise they can end up relearning the behavior again.
What are signs of a pup begging?
When you get used to your dog’s behavior, it can be jarring when someone else asks how long your dog has been begging for. In case you’re unclear on what begging behavior looks like, common signs include your dog:
- Putting their head on your lap while you’re eating
- Whining during your dinner
- Scratching your leg
- Sitting nearby and stares while you eat
Moving from person to person
Do dogs know they're begging?
The Oxford Dictionary defines begging as “asking someone earnestly or humbly for something.” While we doubt dogs pick up on all of the subtleties of what it means to beg, they do understand that they are asking for something.
When they get that reward, they learn that their way of asking for it has been successful, then they keep doing it (even if the behavior gets progressively less humble!).