Begging/Demanding Food or Attention

Learn about causes and corrective actions for begging.

Begging/Demanding Food or Attention

Signs of Begging

  • Dog habitually eyes, jumps toward or grabs for food someone holds
  • Dog sits expectantly without prompting in front of people holding food
  • Dog follows and persistently blocks path of anyone carrying food or toy
  • Dog noses or paws person's hand, arm or leg demanding a treat, petting, play or other attention

Causes and Corrective Actions for Begging

Note: In popular operant-conditioning training terms, behaviors that continuously fail to earn rewards "extinguish," meaning if your dog no longer receives rewards for a behavior such as begging the behavior will eventually cease on its own

Attention Seeking

Sometimes related to dominance or rank issues with owner, but most often dogs beg, or more accurately, demand attention through blocking person's forward path, nosing or pawing at hands or body or continually dropping toys wanting to play because people frequently or even occasionally respond by giving the dog desired attention

ATTENTION SEEKING Corrective Actions: Work with positive obedience training methods to establish yourself as dog's in-charge leader to avoid possible budding dominance issue. As long as dog shows no aggression toward you, when he attempts to block your path continue walking so you gently bump dog out of your way. Ignore gentle pawing, nosing or pushing for play to extinguish behavior through non-reward. With very pushy dog, take charge of interactive toys used for games such as a ball or flying disc for fetch and bring them out only when you want to initiate play and put them away once you end the game.

Table Feeding

Dogs who beg from or push at people for treats during meals do so because their annoying behavior previously earned tidbits.

TABLE FEEDING Corrective Actions: Everyone must stop handing the dog food while eating since even occasional rewards encourage incessant begging. If family members, such as children, tend to drop morsels of food on the floor during meals, confine your dog away from table to prevent accidental rewards that encourage continued begging. At first sign of begging, confine dog away from table. Never allow dog to lick dinnerware and clean up scraps left on tables after meals.

Free Treats

Dogs who constantly receive treats for no real reason often come to expect and demand these free treats throughout the day.

FREE TREATS Corrective Actions: Your dog must be taught to earn treats through complying with a specific command such as Sit, Down, Here or some other learned behavior at your prompting.

Sharing Snacks

Occasionally sharing snacks with your dog will surely encourage a dog to beg for food.

SHARING SNACKS Corrective Actions: Use self control and never share your snacks or allow other family members and friends to share their munchies. If resident children prove too young to understand this concept, separate the dog from the kids during meals or snacks.

Treat Fixation

Food-based reward training offers an effective positive method for encouraging proper behaviors, but failure to reduce treats into randomly given rewards rather than for every performance can result in a dog who expects a treat after each command and ignores subsequent commands until the owner complies.

TREAT FIXATION Corrective Actions: Avoid using treats to bribe dog into performing a command, the treat should always follow a behavior as reward. Combine praise with treats early in training to increase pleasant impact of praise. Study positive training methods or work with a professional to learn how to correctly fade treats while maintaining obedience. Don't fall into habit of automatically giving dog a treat despite an incorrect or half-hearted performance, insist dog comply with commands as trained


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Gen   towson,

3/5/2013 4:45:00 PM

I never ever table feed my dog.

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Melian and Tiny   Etna, CA

1/10/2013 11:19:43 PM

Great tips however some of this depends on the dog. I often feed a tidbit or two to my dog from the table. She knows that is all she will get so after a bite or two she'll leave. There's no incessant begging.

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