We Beg to Differ: Begging in Dogs Isn’t Cute
Okay, sure those sad eyes, furrowed brows, and the unrelenting attention may be a little endearing, but Blue Valley Animal Hospital maintains that begging in dogs is not a desirable behavior.
From those doe-like eyes earning a compromise in good nutrition and extra calories to the drool on your rug, there are many reasons to discourage it.
We have your back when it comes to discouraging begging behavior in dogs.
Nipping Begging in the Bud
As with many things, begging in dogs is best stopped before it starts.
Begging is a natural canine behavior, and while it may indicate that your dog’s diet is lacking, it is just as likely to be a ploy for attention from the person your pet loves most (psst, that’s you).
If you are starting from scratch, be sure to:
- Be sure that your pet is eating a balanced, quality diet
- You are having structured play time with your pet, ideally right before a family meal
- Redirect begging behavior with another command (go to bed, lay down), being careful not to reward with food
- Use positive reinforcement training to reward good behavior (be sure to acknowledge that your pet went to bed on their own during dinner)
- Don’t ever give in – consistency is key!
When you are able to instill and reinforce good habits from the beginning, most pets learn very quickly that begging just doesn’t pay off.
Stopping Established Begging in Dogs
If you already have a seasoned begging pro, things can be a little more difficult. The behavior didn’t become engrained overnight, and it won’t go away that quickly, either.
With a little work and a lot of consistency, however, it can be done. When trying to stop an established begging behavior in dogs, the first step is to be sure that everyone is on the same page. Most adults in the home can understand why begging is not desirable and how much harm extras can do to your pet’s health (and waistline). Be sure to educate any visitors to the home about your efforts as well.
Children can be a little more difficult. Be sure that you talk to your kids about why human food is not allowed for your pets and keep a close eye on any disappearing food from their dinner plates. Also be sure to set them up for success (we are looking at you, unattended bowl of Cheerios in the living room).
Structured enrichment and exercise can also go a long way towards helping many behavioral issues. Be sure that your dog is getting structured exercise and playtime daily. Mental stimulation is also important.
Once these things are in place, start working with your pet to go to a certain area when food is around. This might be a crate, a dog bed, or even a certain room. Teach a command such as “go to bed” or “lay down” and reward with a small training treat.
Once this command is solid, you can begin giving this command at meal times. Don’t reward with food if you must give this command to a beggar, but rather acknowledge the behavior when your dog does it on his own or at times outside of meals.
Begging in dogs can be a tricky habit to break. If your pet is a relentless beggar despite your best efforts, or if the behavior suddenly surfaces, give us a call to schedule an appointment. We are happy to evaluate to be sure there are no medical causes for a newly ravenous appetite and help you to troubleshoot the issue.