Expert Training Advice
Kilo the Pug is a relentless table beggar. I know this is a common issue in many households, especially around holiday season at big dinners with family and friends. This issue can usually be reversed with proper training techniques for humans and dogs. It doesn’t bother me as he and I share a love of food, but it really bothers my husband and certain dinner guests so I need to stop my dog from begging.
The truth is, I taught my dog to beg and I consistently reinforce this unwanted behavior by continuing to feed Kilo in a variety of places when he asks. I need to change my behavior in order to change his.
Dog Training Tips
Gillian Ridgeway from Who’s Walking Who suggests that “attention seeking efforts” we find cute as puppies, may turn into habits that we later find annoying and unacceptable. It’s best to combat these issues as soon as they occur with positive reinforcement training techniques.
Read Gillian Ridgeway’s: How To Stop Attention Seeking Habits
Communicating With Your Dog
Victoria Stilwell suggests focusing on communicating patiently and effectively how you want your dog to behave. This is best done by tapping into their natural instincts and giving them incentives so they will want to do what you want. Through good training practices, you will build your bond with your best friend and be able to solve their common behavioral issues like begging.
Watch our interview with Victoria Stilwell: Train Your Dog Positively
Focus and the Power of Marker Words
Trainer Renee DeVilliers of All About Dogs who was featured in our documentary series suggests using a strong marker word (or some people use a clicker), rewarding for good behaviors and ignoring the undesired behaviors.
Read More Tip by Renee DeVilliers: How To Teach Dogs Focus and Self Control
5 Steps To Stop Your Dog From Begging
- PREVENT the behavior by NEVER feeding your dogs from anywhere but their food bowl or puzzles or during training. Discuss your dog’s diet with your vet and make sure they are getting the right amount of the right food at the right times (many human foods you might be tempted to share like me are not good for them). Kilo always seems to be starving and equates food with love but I have encouraged this and need to stop.
- IGNORE the behavior, don’t reward your dog in any way for begging. This means no touching or attention.
- BLOCK the behavior, stand up and block him with your body. Use a marker word such as ‘back’ while giving him a clear physical hand signal. Don’t yell or physically move your dog. A body block is how dogs naturally control space from other dogs, so this body language cue sends a clear message.
- REMOVE your dog from the table area and tell him to ‘stay’. Your dog can remain in sight on a chosen spot like a mat or a dog bed or couch, or you can remove him to another room or his crate, removing the temptation and setting him up for success by not allowing him to practice begging behavior. I will sometimes give Kilo a Bullwrinkle Bully Stick to chew on or a stuffed frozen Kong to eat to distract him in another spot and make it more appealing to stay there calmly.
- REPEAT each time your dog attempts to move. Repeating the process in exactly the same manner each time your dog begins to beg or approach the table until he understands that he can no longer approach. Be patient and reward your dog when he ‘stays’ or ‘sits’ and waits for you to finish.
Why Dogs Whine
Whining is often associated with begging as an attention seeking habit. Stilwell writes in her book, The Secret Language Of Dogs, that dogs whine for a variety of reasons such as hunger, thirst, pain, boredom or loneliness. It’s a normal vocalization, but it doesn’t always mean they are starving. Once you begin to react to their whining or begging by giving them food, your dog will continue to do it thinking it’s a reward and gets them what they want.