Begging is a problem that many dog owners experience. In many dog owning households a dinner isn’t a dinner without that telltale nose poking up over the side of the table.
Canine Connect is a dog training and behaviourist company in Adelaide. In the first of many training articles we asked Scott from Canine Connect for some tips in avoiding and fixing the begging problem.
Tip number 1: I can’t see you!
If you can manage it, ignore the dog one hundred percent. Treat them as if they are completely invisible.
If the begging has been a common issue the dog may start upping the ante by adding a bark or clawing at your leg. This is because the dog is becoming frustrated and is thinking “well this use to work, maybe I will try a little harder”. If the dog shows this type of behaviour then you need to remain strong and continue to ignore, this means it is working.
Eventually after the dog peaks (this may take some time) the dog will learn that this begging behaviour no longer gets the desired reaction and will begin to lose interest.
Tip number 2: Understand what a reward is to your dog
A reward is not always food related. You may feel you are doing the right thing by no longer feeding the dog, but you still look at them, pat their head or even say their name. These can all be perceived as a reward and the behaviour may continue.
You need to be vigilant and learn to be able to completely ignore the dog or behaviour, if this is not possible then remove the dog completely. Remember, even yelling at your dog can sometimes be perceived as a reward to them, they got your attention!
Tip number 3: Prevention is better than cure
By feeding your dog off your plate or by always giving them the last part of the meal you are teaching a behaviour. Yep, it’s your fault, a shock I know. Dogs are extremely fast learners so as soon as you get into a habit of feeding them in inappropriate times you are teaching the dog this skill. “Hey! I get some of your yummy food and all I need to do is stare lovingly at you.”
Don’t start treating your dog with bits of your food and you won’t have a begging problem to solve. An ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure.
Tip number 4: Be consistent, this means everyone
Have a family meeting, print the dog’s rules and stick them on the fridge. A big issue with training a dog to either start or stop a behaviour is consistency. If you have one family remember who flaunts the rules and allows the dog to continue these behaviours than your hard work will be for nothing.
Explain to guests that your dog is currently undergoing some training and there are some aspects they may need to know. Once again if you cannot guarantee everyone is following the rules then simply remove the dog.