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If "cute" ceases to work,
they may go straight to intimidation!


These dogs are ignoring everyone else in the room eating pizza. Why do they choose this person as a target? Because he will share! In fact, the cuter they look, the longer they stare, the more LIKELY they are to get pizza. This person has very effectively taught them long duration intense attention by rewarding it. If they whine and he feeds them, he will have rewarded whining. If they bark AT him and he feeds them, he will reward them for being bossy. They aren't "bad dogs" - they are very well trained dogs. He's just taught them the wrong thing.

You can easily teach your dog better behavior around the table - create the habit that when meals are served, dogs go to their beds. Any rewards that might happen while humans are eating, happen on the bed. So that's where they hang out!


Good dogs!

Higgins and Stanley wait on their bed while the grandkids eat lunch. This not only keeps them from circling like sharks waiting for dropped food, it also keeps the kids from feeding them and rewarding begging.

In the background, Rocky the Boxer lies in his crate. The door is open. Early in his training he may have been put there and the door closed. Now it's just habit, food is served, dog goes to his crate - because that's just what you do. 

"People food" doesn't teach dogs to beg, PEOPLE do!

Why do dogs beg?

Because you have taught them to. Some time, some where, you picked a piece of food off your plate and delivered it to their ever cute face!


No people food ... from your plate.
Many people say that they never want to feed their dog "people food" because it will teach the dog to beg.


The food doesn't teach the dog. The response of the human to pleading eyes does.

The "people food" that you should never feed your dog is food that you are eating at the time. People food is fine. SHARING your own meal is the problem. "One for mommy, one for Spot" is out.

Photo courtesy of Amanda at "A day in the life of our pugs"

"Begging"? Or simply long-duration eye contact
taught by variable schedule of reinforcement?

But I thought I was only supposed to feed my dog "dog food?"

"Dog food" is just people food turned into meat flavored cereal and put in a bag. It's all food: meats, grains, vegetables. The real difference between the meat in dog food and the meat on your dinner plate is quality. You buy high quality meat. The chicken meat meal in your dog food might very well be beaks and feet or the meat of old tough birds no human would consider eating. Don't give your dog the gristle and fat you wouldn't eat either, but don't toss perfectly good, healthy training treats down the garbage disposal! The dog treats in the pet food aisle of your grocery store are the most expensive, unhealthy thing you probably feed your dog - full of sugars and artificial colors and preservatives. Cut up that left-over lean turkey or roast beef into small cubes and put it in a container in the fridge for your next training session.


Work to earn.
Begging to work is wonderful. Mooching is not. Keep it all in perspective. That left-over piece of chicken, chopped up into treat-sized pieces and put in a bag in the refrigerator will make a fine training session later, after dinner is over and the dishes are done. Just be aware of what behavior you are rewarding!


This is just plain rudeness:


Don't let this happen to you!

Stand up, walk away or better yet, teach them where they should go at meal time.
and make sure NO one in the family is contributing to the delinquency of a beggar!


See also:
Leave it
Counter Thieving



This handout may be reprinted in its entirety for distribution free of charge and with full credit given:
© CAROL A. BYRNES "DIAMONDS IN THE RUFF" Training for Dogs & Their People -
ditr_training @ - 

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