Make Your Dog’s Begging Less Bothersome

With a little training, your dog won’t be too proud to beg properly.

Jolanta Benal, CPDT-KA, CBCC-KA
4-minute read
Episode #4

Let the Begging Training Begin

When you sit down to eat, set aside 5 or 10 tiny pieces of whatever you’ve got that your dog likes. And then be patient and ignore her.

Ignore her if she looks at you pleadingly. Ignore her if she barks. Ignore her if she rests her big sweet head on your thigh and whimpers because she’s about to drop dead, she’s so famished. If you smile at your dog while she’s begging, push her away, reprimand her, or give the behavior any attention at all, you’re rewarding it. Completely ignoring your dog will be the toughest part of the whole process. Whatever you do, don’t hold out for 29 minutes and then cave on the 30th. You will have built a dog who has learned to pester for 30 minutes, and you will want to knock yourself upside the head. And this may seem obvious, but nobody at the table should slip your dog any food during the meal.

Sooner or later, if you resolutely ignore your dog’s begging, she will give up and go away. Ideally, she’ll lie down on that comfy bed. But if she chooses to lie on the floor, call that good enough. The instant she lies down, toss her a piece of the food you’ve set aside. Lying down quietly is now the one and only behavior that will buy her table scraps.

Continue the Training

Odds are close to 100 percent that as soon as she’s eaten the treat you tossed her, she will get up and start begging again. Your mission: keep ignoring her. Eventually, she’ll give up and go lie down again. Then toss her a scrap and repeat, repeat, repeat. Be absolutely consistent. Within a few meals she’ll give up begging faster and faster, and she’ll go lie down more and more readily. That brings you to the fine-tuning stage.

As your dog gets proficient at begging by lying down quietly as soon as the meal starts, you can stretch the interval between treat tosses. With enough practice, your dog can learn to wait patiently through the whole meal for a single bite. I don’t bother to push that far. Our despairing dog settling onto the floor with a deep, deep sigh, makes us laugh, and I can’t resist tossing him a treat every few minutes in exchange. The house manners that keep you and your dog happy and comfortable are the house manners that are right for you.

Take Your Training to the Next Level

Here’s another refinement you might like: move the dog bed farther and farther from the table, a foot or so at each meal, until it’s in the location where you’d like your dog always to rest during meals.


About the Author

Jolanta Benal, CPDT-KA, CBCC-KA

Jolanta holds professional certifications in both training and behavior counseling and belongs to the Association of Professional Dog Trainers and the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants. She also volunteered with Pet Help Partners, a program of the Humane Society of the United States that works to prevent pet relinquishment. Her approach is generally behaviorist (Pavlovian, Skinnerian and post-Skinnerian learning theory) with a big helping of ethology (animal behavior as observed in non-experimental settings).