We’ve all seen “the look.” That brown-eyed, sympathetic face that says “But I’ve been a good boy all day, and bacon is my favorite…. Pretty please?” There is nothing more difficult for a loving pet parent, than denying the dog you adore (or cat, for that matter) a morsel of food when he whimpers or whines for it. Ever notice when there is food around, your pet becomes far more dutiful and attentive than when you were just sitting in the living room? There is no question about it; cats and dogs are both highly motivated by food and treats of all kinds. Dogs will beg for almost anything edible, even for fruits and vegetables that would be poisonous to them if they only knew! Pets love food, and they will stoop to new levels of importunate entreating to get what they want. No matter how adorable your dog is when he begs, or how “one little piece won’t hurt” don’t believe it and don’t give in!
Tips to stop the begging
- Do not encourage the begging. And by “do not encourage” we mean, never ever feed your dog scraps from the table or in the kitchen. This is reinforcing bad behavior that you should aim to stop.
- Feed your pet at the same time as you, so he will be distracted with his own meal and will leave you in peace. If necessary, keep the food in the laundry room or in his crate so that your dog will be eating in another room. This will curb his curiosity about your dinner plate.
- Take your dog for a long walk right before the meal so that he will be too exhausted to follow you around in hopes of a scrap.
- Avoid making eye contact with your pet. You know you love him and will feel sorry for him if he seems gut-wrenched and starving for that scrap of food! We all have heard the phrase “puppy eyes” and know that the power of those sweet, pleading faces that should not be underestimated.
- Ignore the begging. Don’t engage, encourage or explain anything to your dog. First of all, he won’t understand any of that gibberish, and he will work harder for your attention once he has it. Some dogs beg more when they know the owner is considering feeding them; dogs may bark, jump or scratch at the cupboards in an effort to get the treat! If you ignore these attempts, he will see that it is useless to try, and will give up.
Be the pack leader! Use discipline if you truly want the begging to stop. Tell your dog “no” and lead him out of the room. If you hold your ground without giving in, your pet will learn that begging is ineffective, and will be less inclined to do it.