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Beggars Can’t Be Choosers: How to Deal with a Dog that Begs

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Jessie:  I am posting this entry today because the human to my good friend Bolt, an adorable, yet precocious Yorkie-Poo,  has expressed concern about Bolt’s annoying begging habits during the human’s meal times.   It seems that Bolt’s human cannot begin a meal without Bolt begging, whining, jumping up and down, employing whatever tactic he can think of in order to get just one tiny morsel of food from the human’s plate.  We even highly suspect that Bolt has engaged in some form of counter-surfing behind his human’s back, jumping up on the larger dog’s back at his home and scouring the counter for goodies that way.  It is a group effort, so they bigger dog is at fault, too.

As for me, I never beg for food.  The only one who begs in this household is that stinky cat, Bo.  He has to beg for mercy, that is, if he ever wants any care and consideration from me!

Begging is one of the most learned behaviors in dogs that one can see as endearing or annoying. At best, begging is actually a form of communication.  Some pet owners even train their dogs to beg in order to get a piece of food or a treat.

However, on the other end of the spectrum, we have dogs that simply will not leave their humans alone during meal times.  Like Bolt, he may jump on the owner’s leg, paw the owner, or bark incessantly.  The dog realizes this has worked in the past, so he continues to engage in this behavior.  Dogs do not only beg for food, either.  They may beg for toys or for attention.

Because it is a learned behavior, the obvious solution is to not teach it to the dog in the first place.  Pet owners who do not have to contend with a begging dog have simply raised the dog by not feeding it table scraps or by simply not encouraging such behavior in the dog in the first place.  The dog receives his meals at the same time each day, in the same place, each and every day.

For dogs who beg, they are merely thinking, “It works, so therefore I beg.”
Here are a few tips to discourage the begging dog in your household:

1.)    Have a set feeding regimen for your dog, and do not vary this at all.

2.)    Crate train your dog during your meal times so he is not able to beg.  Be sure to give him a toy or something to occupy him during this time, however.

3.)    Realize that your dog will soon stop trying to do something that no longer works.

4.)    Do not use punishment as a form of control here.  It confuses the dog, and the only thing he learns to avoid is the punisher.

As the owner, you have to be in charge and take control.  Your dog, the faithful friend and follower, will appreciate your lead!  Just don’t leave a trail of bread crumbs as he follows behind you!

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