Please Stop the Begging

 

Boots and Bee Photography - by Brittany Graham

Boots and Bee Photography – by Brittany Graham

Food is our common ground, a universal experience – James Beard

Now is the time of year where we have lots of people in and out of our house. Most of the time there’s food involved. Lots and lots of delicious food. Which means, all of a sudden you’re face to face with one of your biggest pet peeves you have with your dog. Begging.

No one likes it. It’s annoying and in your face. It doesn’t allow you to have a relaxing meal and quite honestly it’s rude. The good news is that it’s absolutely workable! If you spend some time working on the begging issue you will see big improvements.

Start with the realization that if you’re sitting down to a hot meal, it might not be hot when you finally get to eat it. Never work with your dog on begging when you’re hungry, because quite honestly you’re more likely to lose your temper under this circumstance. Remember, it’s all about staying calm when you’re working with your dog.

Boots and Bee Photography - by Brittany Graham

Boots and Bee Photography – by Brittany Graham

When starting to work on changing this behavior, make sure you have a spot in mind that you would like your dog to go. It is important to let your dog see you still, but he does not need to be under feet. Pick a spot that won’t change. Maybe it’s where his bed is or maybe it’s the edge of the rug. Wherever it is, stay consistent. This will help your dog understand what is expected of him.

Sit down at the table where you usually have your meal. If your dog is too close to you, quite simply back him up. Use confident body language and move into your dog’s personal space until he is at the spot you would like him to stay in. Give your dog the stay or wait command (whichever you’re using currently) and slowly back away from your dog. Make sure you are facing your dog the entire time. By facing him you can see if there is any forward motion. If your dog starts moving towards the food again, walk back into his personal space until again he is where you want him to stay.

The eyes... they watch your every bite.  Boots and Bee Photography - by Brittany Graham

The eyes… they watch your every bite.
Boots and Bee Photography – by Brittany Graham

Until your dog has accepted the answer that he must stay in his spot while you are eating, it may take multiple trips (and some kind of odd tango) until you are able to sit down for your meal. Keep an eye on your dog and make sure you’re answering all questions. When you’re dog fixates on your food or takes a step forward he’s asking “Can I get in your personal space and hope that you give in to my puppy eyes and give me food off of your plate?” The answer, as cute as your dog’s eyes may be, is always no.

Work on it outside of meal times at first so you don’t starve. Slowly but surely you’ll see improvement. You’ll have to answer the question of “my food?” less and less. Soon, your dog will realize that the answer is always no and will understand what is expected of him at mealtime.

Remember, your dog isn’t trying to be annoying. He merely has a question he would like answered and if there are different expectations of him, he needs those outlined clearly. Once he understands all of that, you’ll find meal time is a lot more comfortable without two extra eyes staring down your every move as you eat your sandwich.

Keep calm and pilot on

Danika Migliore
Darwin Dogs, LLC
Dog Training in Cleveland, OH

 

 

Hunger Games

2-18-14

  “There is no love sincerer than the love of food.”
   ― George Bernard Shaw     

You’ve just spent an hour slaving away on a meal (or you know, stopped for Chinese take-out, both excellent choices in my book).  Now you’re ready to sit down to have a nice dinner, and there are those puppy eyes, maybe a paw or two at your leg, and maybe even the dreaded whine from your canine friend. Suddenly he looks like you haven’t feed him in weeks (when in reality he ate 30 minutes ago) and he desperately needs your food to have any chance of survival.

If you’re like me, this drives you crazy.

I used to get so annoyed with my dog when he would try and beg for food. The worst is when he would constantly lick the air, as if somehow the air molecules would fulfill him of every Lo Mein dream he ever had.

But guess what? It doesn’t have to be that way! There are some easy steps that you can take to cut down on your dog’s begging. However, it takes consistency and time, as well as Piloting.

When it’s dinner time, have an idea as to where you would prefer your dog to be. That could mean that there is an imaginary perimeter around the table, maybe he has a bed that you would like him to be in or maybe it’s specific spot in the kitchen.  It is somewhat helpful if the area that you would like him to be is somewhere he can still see you and your family. After all you are pack. However, even in the wild, packs have a hierarchy when it comes to mealtime.

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You’ll be using a lot of your Piloting skills in this instance so make sure you’re calm. Your food may get cold, so get used to that, at least in the short term. The hard work and cold meal that you put up with now, will only lead to more peaceful mealtimes later.

Sit down like you usually would for your meal, if your dog comes too close to you or the food, then back him off by using your confident body language. Stand up tall and walk into his personal space by pretending you’re trying to push him back with your stomach, as described in the PAW Method. Remember, feet in a “V” shape while walking, so there’s no stepping on any paws by accident. Whenever you move into your dog’s personal space use a specific sound. For example, a snap or a quick short noise that you can link with your negative body language. By using that sound each time you answer your pup’s question (Can I have what you’re eating? Um…No.) that noise will become linked with your body language. Eventually, you’ll be able to use that sound while sitting at the dinner table if your dog decides he’s going to try one more time for a quick table scrap and he’ll know the answer is still “No”.

Use your body to direct your pup into what direction you would like him to go. Once he’s at your desired location for him, wait for him to calm down, and then slowly remove your negative body language by backing away. If your dog moves towards the food and you, go ahead and move into his personal space again and move him to where you want him to be. You may have to do this a few times, and that’s okay. I would have a hard time giving up on a steak too.

Consistency is key when it comes to dealing with beggars at the dinner table. Keep with it and stay calm. Soon, you’ll be able to eat peacefully without your four legged friend acting like he’s never seen food before.

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