Dinner time and dogs that beg

Our question this week was:

I have two dogs and every time my husband and I sit down to eat; they are always beside of us and watching us! We don't want to exclude them from the family, what could we do to distract them?

Answer

This is a very common situation. So basically, your dogs are "begging" while you try to eat. Begging may take the form of sitting next to the diner's chair, perhaps whining, eyes riveted on the target of attention, the food. In other cases, the dog may take a more proactive role in begging. He may paw, jump on the owner's leg, or bark incessantly.

Whatever form the begging takes is testimony to what has worked for the dog in the past. Those owners who do have a begging dog problem must have rewarded the behavior at some point, either inadvertently or intentionally. Some owners of begging dogs decide to try to break the cycle of begging and reinforcement, but don't have the willpower to stay the course. Instead, they occasionally cave in, reinforcing the dog's begging behavior on a random intermittent schedule. This schedule of reinforcement produces the most indelible learning of all. It ensures that the dog will continue to beg on the off chance that next time he may win.

There are several suggestions to "quash" begging. This article may be helpful and give you more details: Dealing with Dogs that Beg

Our question this week came from April, in Fort Polk, Louisiana.

Dr. Debra

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