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How to put a stop to begging

Begging begins innocently enough, Fido looks hungry so you give him a treat from the table.

Then, this gradually evolves into a constant whining and begging while you are trying to enjoy a family meal.

To effectively resolve this behavior, you will need to be consistent in managing the behavior, positively reinforcing the non-begging behavior, and effectively interrupting the dog when he engages in the inappropriate behavior.

First, you will want to positively reinforce an alternate behavior.

You will need to develop a good down-stay in a spot that you find acceptable for your dog to spend time while you are eating.

If your dog does not have strong down-stay ability, you will want to find a spot that has a place you can tether your dog in case he breaks his down-stay command. Some good examples of a good tether spot would be the handle of a closed door or, if you have a small dog, the leg of a very heavy table.

Please note that you never want to tether your dog when he is not in your direct supervision. Start by practicing the down-stay in the chosen spot at non-meal times and with no distractions.

Practice this with the tether for the first couple of days. During this time, frequently go to your dog to praise him and offer him a treat. If your dog tries to get up, calmly walk over and place your dog back into the down position. Do not praise your dog until he can stay down for at least ten seconds.

Until your dog can calmly handle a meal time distraction, he should be crated during this time. After he is successful at staying in his spot during routine distractions, you can practice while sitting at the table and pretending to have a meal.

Don’t forget to praise your dog when he successfully remains in a down position in his assigned spot. After practicing during the pretend meal, move on to the real thing. After a week of successful down-stays during the meal, you can try removing the tether leash.

If your dog starts getting up, more practice with the leash will probably be necessary. It is important to reward your dog enough so he knows he is making the correct decision and that he is pleasing you by staying in the position.

The easiest way to set your dog up to succeed is to not put your dog in a situation where begging is possible until he has learned an alternate behavior, in this example we are using the down-stay command.

As stated before, crate your pet or confine them to the back yard during meal time until this is mastered.

There also must be consequences for begging. For example, if your dog whines or barks in his crate during meal times, move the crate out of sight.

As in learning any new behavior, it is important to be consistent. You can’t offer your dog a treat from the table today and expect him not to beg tomorrow or when guest are at the house.

For further evaluation of your pet’s behavior, consult a professional trainer. Remember, every dog deserves to be treated like a show dog.

Tony Barker, The BARKer Shop