- Feeding your dog in a separate room than you dine in can help prevent begging
- Teach your dogs basic obedience commands to help discourage impulse-based behaviors
- Reward your dog for good behavior
When you sit down for mealtimes, if you end up with a furry beggar at your feet giving you those big puppy-dog eyes, you’ll probably be tempted to give your pooch table scraps. Unfortunately, not only does this reinforce this unwanted behavior, but it can also lead to tummy troubles and even health problems like canine obesity. Plus, some human-safe foods are dangerous for dogs.
Instead, nip begging behaviors in the bud by taking steps to keep your dog well-fed and teach her proper manners. After all, beggars can be choosers — they can choose not to beg and get rewarded for good behavior instead.
Feed Your Dog First
Right before you sit down to eat, feed your dog, preferably in a separate room from where you dine. By giving your dog a tasty meal of Purina® Pro Plan® Savor®, your pooch will be too busy savoring the tasty morsels of real beef in this delicious food to bother you with any begging while you eat.
Eating in a room away from the dining area is also an acceptable way to manage begging behaviors by preventing them in the first place, recommends Melissa McCue-McGrath, a certified dog trainer in Boston, MA, Co-Training Director of the New England Dog Training Club, and author of Considerations for the City Dog.
Send Your Dog to a Cozy Spot
If your dog does come over to beg for food after she finishes her meal, the best way to get her to stop is to send her to a cozy spot near the dining area, recommends McGrath.
“When I’m in a client’s home, and they want the dog to not beg, we would first break down what the dog could do instead, and train an alternative behavior while also managing the behavior I don’t like if necessary,” she says. One such alternative behavior is sending your dog to a designated spot like a bed, crate, or mat away from the table with a command like “Go to Your Spot.” This way, pups can still feel like they’re socializing with the family and they get a nice cozy spot to hang out.
“If the dog already knows a solid ‘Stay’ command, I would use it — if not, we’d train that behavior first,” McGrath recommends. This ensures that your dog remains in the designated spot throughout the meal.
Ignore and Redirect a Begging Dog
The worst thing you can do when your dog begs for food is to give in to those adorable big puppy-dog eyes. You are essentially teaching your dog that if she asks you for food, you’ll give it to her. And, scolding pups simply gives them negative attention.
“If the goal is no begging, then my suggestion would be to ignore this behavior,” says McGrath. “But also make sure there are other options available for alternative behaviors like having a frozen stuffed KONG around for your dog to chew on or your pup’s dinner to eat available in another room.”
Giving pups an acceptable alternative like a toy or a delicious Purina® Beggin’ Strips® original with bacon dog treat also sets them up for success because they will still have something to occupy their time once they see begging isn’t going to get them attention or food.
Teach Your Dog Basic Obedience
By teaching your dog basic obedience commands like “Sit,” “Stay,” and “Leave it,” you can then use these commands to discourage impulse-based behaviors like begging, recommends McGrath. For example, if your dog is always jumping up on your lap and begging for food while you eat, simply tell your dog to “Sit” and “Stay.” This stops the obnoxious behavior.
If someone accidentally drops food on the ground and your dog attempts to get to it, give your dog the “Leave it” command to prevent that. “You want your dog to actively disengage and move away from the stimulus,” recommends McGrath.
When training your dog, do so after a walk or other exercise so the pooch will be less energetic and better behaved, says McGrath.
Reward Your Dog for Good Behavior
When dogs are well-behaved and don’t beg for food, that’s the time to treat them. A great option is Purina® Beyond® natural dog biscuits treats with salmon and oats that tempt your pup’s taste buds with healthy and yummy ingredients.
McGrath cautions against giving your dog a treat from the table, as that will just encourage begging. Instead, get up and give your pup a treat when she is sitting away from the table and not begging. Or, you can use a remote-controlled treating device to save you from having to get up multiple times to reward good behavior, McGrath says.
Change Your Dog’s Diet
If you notice that your pup isn’t finishing meals while coming over to you during dinner and begging for food, it’s probably time for a change in your dog’s diet. Older dogs may need a canned dog food like Purina® Pro Plan® FOCUS Adult 7+ beef & rice entrée morsels in gravy wet dog food to keep their taste buds satisfied and ensure that they stay healthy.
You can also choose a food based on your dog’s size like Purina® Pro Plan® FOCUS Adult small breed turkey entrée wet dog food for petite pups or Purina® Pro Plan® FOCUS Adult large breed chicken & rice entrée chunks in gravy wet dog food for big pups. And, remember to always follow the feeding recommendations on the label to ensure your pup is getting enough food each day so your pooch won’t beg for table scraps.
After a change in diet, if your dog is still ignoring the food dish completely, consult with your vet because an illness might be at play.
Block Access to the Table
While it might seem like a no-brainer, blocking access to the table with baby or pet gates is one of the best ways to prevent persistent pups from begging. Or, close pooches in their crates during mealtimes.
Always give dogs an alternative activity to occupy their time while they’re out of the dining area, like a puzzle toy filled with tasty treats, recommends McGrath. This solution is especially convenient during hectic times like holiday dinners when guests might be more apt to sneak your pup table scraps and ruin your training. Some treats to try? Purina® Beneful® baked delights hugs dog treats with a soft inside and crunchy inside.