It can go without saying that people tend to enjoy being able to give their dogs treats throughout the day. Not only do the dogs enjoy it, but they tend to be cute and their reactions have their humans coming back to give them more treats. At least, that is ideally the way this kind of interaction goes. For some people, their dog begging for treats never seems to end, and you are left with a dog who never stops whining and trying to get you to feed it more treats. When the dog’s begging seems to cross the border from wanting treats as any other dog would and into inappropriate begging, it might be time to think about the ways you can discourage your dog from begging as much.
Don’t Reward the Dog
The first step to getting your dog to stop begging you for treats is not to give in to the dog. This is the most important step. If you give in and give the begging dog a treat, this acts as a reward and teaches the dog that it can get what it wants if it just begs for long enough, which is the opposite behavior of what you will want. No matter how much your dog may whine, beg, or climb on top of you to try and get your attention, you need to do what you can to not reward the dog for its efforts.
While it might seem as if the begging won’t end at first, there are ways that you can try and redirect your dog’s attention so that it won’t be as focused on the idea of getting treats. Try to focus your dog’s attention on something else, such as its own food, toys, or just going outside.
Ignore the Begging Dog
One route that you can choose to take is to try and ignore the dog completely. Don’t acknowledge the begging and do everything you can not to act as if you feel sorry for the dog for not getting what it wants. Feeling sorry for the dog may come as a form of attention in its mind, meaning that it is getting something that it wants rather than being ignored. Do what you can to not acknowledge the begging. For some dogs, this works because they will soon get bored of trying to get treats out of you and they will go off to do whatever else they have planned for their day.
For other dogs, this may not work at first and it may not work on its own, but keeping up this habit of not acknowledging the dog’s attempts at begging will help reinforce that begging is a behavior that only wastes the dog’s time. Throughout weeks of training, the goal is that your dog will see no use in begging, cutting down on the amount that it chooses to beg you.
Keep the Dog’s Thoughts Occupied
Another method that you can choose to use, especially if ignoring your dog is not providing as much of an effect as you would have wished, is to try and distract your dog. There are a few different ways to do this. Some people choose to play with their dog, though this might be seen as “rewarding” it in a sense. Other people may choose to take their dog outside in the hopes that all the things outside can distract it from its desire for more treats. Taking your dog out for a long walk is often enough to help your dog put its mind elsewhere, and at best, it will get your dog tired enough to sleep for a bit so that you won’t have to deal with it begging you for treats.
If all goes well with this, your dog will associate begging with other more productive behaviors to choose from, whether that means playing with its toys, taking a nap, or deciding to ask to go outside instead of standing by your feet and begging you.
Another thing to keep in mind is that no matter what method you choose to try and teach your dog with, you need to remain as consistent as possible. Don’t decide that one day you are going to scold the dog and the next day give it something to play with. While people may be able to connect these reactions to their behavior, dogs cannot. For the training to have a long-lasting effect on the dog, it needs to be done consistently, meaning that once you choose a method to train your dog with, you need to stick with it.
It may take weeks for the results to show, especially if your dog is a stubborn and slow learner. Patience is key in this process, as you need to be calm and dedicated to trying to show your dog that begging is not the proper way to get treats.
Don’t Take Frustration Out on the Dog
Last, but most certainly not least, you should never try and actively punish your dog for begging for treats. It is not going to understand why you are yelling or punishing the dog, and this may lead to acting out even more in other ways. It has been a proven fact that negative reinforcement does not help a dog grow out of problematic behaviors. Instead, it only moves that energy to other problems, such as becoming aggressive or being even more stubborn. It is important to use positive reinforcement when training your dog, such as spending time with it and trying to distract it.