How can I get my dog to stop begging for my food?

Think about this: If we get easily enticed by the aromas and flavors of some of our favorite foods, and if dogs love those same foods, then why wouldn’t they find those same scents tempting and want to eat those foods as well? One little taste or one sniff can create a big begging problem.

Like anything, it’s often better to prevent the problem in the first place, so you might want to confine your dog while you’re eating, such as putting her in the crate if she’s crate-trained. Caution, though: You never want her to feel that confinement to the crate is a form of punishment, so make sure she’ll want to go voluntarily; perhaps you’ll want to give her a Kong or some other toy with an opening in which you can put a healthy, taste treat.

Some other tips include:

• Teach the “Place” command. Here’s how: First, make sure she’s mastered “down.” Then select a room or rooms and say “place” to lure her to those areas you selected. As soon as she enters that area, praise her lavishly. Once she’s learned that, she’ll go there whenever you say “place” and lie “down.”
• Remember that begging is really learned behavior, so don’t reward it by giving in every time she begs. No tidbits from the table! Besides, that can be dangerous, because a food that’s great for people can lead to things like pancreatitis for dogs. Keep in mind, also the pet obesity problem that can ultimately shorten your dog’s life; that’s just another reason you won’t want to feed her from the table.
• Don’t let her get a taste of the “good stuff.” Dogs love to steal and that includes counter-surfing. They’ve even been known to investigate dishwashers, looking for unwashed dishes so they can lick leftovers. Keep all food safely contained off cabinets and out of reach. And close those dishwashers!
• Avoid yelling; even negative attention can be the attention she’s seeking. Instead, ignore her whining and barking—and maybe even give her a time-out.

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