Many of us are used to having our canine companions appear to intently stare at us with even the slightest suggestion of food. Before your beloved dog expertly manipulates you into sharing your food, lets look at the reasons why they might be begging.

Why do they beg?

Begging is a behaviour which our dogs learn. Often we find them too lovely to refuse. We might think that they are hungry, or even feel guilty for not sharing. The result is that we get into a routine of happily sharing our favourite snacks and even our meals. We are  rewarding our dogs’ begging behaviour through positive reinforcement. When they beg, they get food. Most of the time dogs are not begging because they are hungry. They don’t even think that your food is the tastiest morsel they’ve ever encountered, like they would have you believe. They just love to be rewarded by you.

Think about puppy training. How do we reinforce good behaviour that we want to continue? By rewarding them with attention and often, food such as training treats. The same positive reinforcement happens with your pooch’s begging. 

What can we do about it?

Next time, don’t feel mean or guilty for not sharing food with your dog. Remember they do not beg because they are hungry or really want your snack. They beg for the rewarding interaction with you.

Why not swap the reward of begging behaviour? Break the cycle of positively reinforcing the routine of begging. Instead teach your dog that other good behaviours, tricks and positive routines will be rewarded. Remember that rewards do not have to be food. Any positive interaction with your dog is rewarding – such as fuss and cuddles, or toys and playing together. 

Why shouldn’t I share my food? 

Our human foods are usually not ideal for our dogs to eat to stay healthy. They can be high in calories, fats, sugars and salts. They can even contain ingredients which are toxic to our dogs, such as sweeteners, raisins and chocolate. Even small quantities of extra tit bits and treats can have a big impact on our dog’s health and very quickly lead to weight gain. Especially for small dogs. It’s best to keep our human foods for us humans, and feed our dogs foods to keep them healthy and happy. 

If you are interested in learning more about how to keep your dog at their healthy weight or would like support with helping them return to their ideal size please check out our Podgy Pooches Program here.