This particular dog behavior problem is more common than you might think.
I usually get a call from someone with an ultimatum like, “You gotta stop my dog from begging today, I’ve got company coming this weekend!” Suddenly it’s a crisis!
In most cases this particular dog behavior involves one dog that does this nuisance begging. In this case however, it was a husband and wife with six dogs. Count them, six dogs.
To make matters worse, this behavior had been going on for years. How many years? Nine years to be exact. Who’s the guilty party? The wife points the guilty finger at the husband and of course he says she’s just as guilty of contributing to their dog’s begging addiction.
I stay out of the middle of that for sure. In conversation I also find out that there are other “entitlements” all the dogs have claimed as well.
It’s the usual laundry list of behaviors like charging me at the front door for example. It’s not like they are big dogs that will knock you down. They are little dogs, 12 – 15 pounders. But boy do these dogs bark at the door. What a racket!
Another big entitlement for their dogs is free access to all the furniture. Now before you get your hackles up, being on the furniture is okay at our home but it’s done with rules.
In this home there is no respect for personal space at all. The second the owner sits down, it’s like that’s the dogs cue to jump in their lap.
The reason I bring these additional behaviors up is that every issue these folks have in other areas begin to foster the bad begging behavior at the kitchen table. It just kept fueling the fire and keeping it hot. It became routine and habit for the dogs.
It’s like painting your house
It’s like painting your house. You can’t just paint one room. To really have well-behaved dogs you really should be consistent and look at all the issues and set proper and consistent personal space boundaries, rules and expectations.
Meanwhile, back in the kitchen
I could tell that they were really overwhelmed with the thought of “where to start.” It seemed like such a daunting task. I suppose it could be unless you clearly understood a basic fundamental concept that is very easy to implement. The most difficult task is to be consistent. But consistent in doing what?
I told them I didn’t want them to do anything at all. See, they thought this was going to be very difficult until I said, “Nothing.”
I explained the fundamental concept of getting rid of their dog’s bad begging behavior step by step. I laid it out in three simple steps.
Stop feeding your dogs from the table. Period. Stop it. All you do is eat your meal.
Do not look at, talk to or touch your dogs while at the table. Just eat your meal.
Do this for 6-8 weeks
Here’s the thing. If you ignore the behavior, it goes away. But it’s a process and I’ve found over the years that if someone knows the process and what to expect, they are not as stressed about doing it. So I explained it to them like this:
Ignore the begging and it will go away – especially if it no longer works for the dogs.
Be prepared to ignore the begging a long time – like 6-8 weeks. Remember, they have been doing this for 9 years!
Be prepared to see other behaviors crop up, like barking or pawing your leg for the attention and food they used to get. Ignore it and it will go away, eventually.
Once you make the begging go away, don’t be surprised if it raises its ugly head again some where down the line. Ignore it and it will finally go away.
So see, if you do nothing, you fix your begging problem. The hardest part is not looking at, talking to or touching your dogs. Period.
A bonus for the dogs
Here’s something this couple did that I thought was clever. All the food they used to give their dogs from the table was put onto an empty plate located on the table between the couple. At the end of the meal, the dogs got the “begging scraps” in their bowls (after a proper sit of course) once the table was cleared. Now, everyone’s happy!
Thanks for letting me share my dog training knowledge with you. Don’t be a stranger. I’d love to hear what you think.
Remember: “Together, We Can Raise a Happy and Obedient Dog”
Jim Burwell, Houston dog trainer for 25+ years, serving over 9000 clients, has a profound understanding of dog behavior and the many things, we as humans, do that influence that behavior – good or bad. Jim has the ability to not only steer dogs and puppies down the right path but to also train the owners to understand their part in having a great dog.
His Ground Rules for Great Dogs is your must have, easy step-by-step process to helping your dog. Be the dog owner your dog needs to be a great dog. Ground Rules gets you there. Grab them now.