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Saturday, July 14, 2012

Beggars Can't Be Choosers

We've all had to deal with our pooch begging or trying to steal our snacks and meals. This behavior is usually  started by offering your pooch food from your plate or table food in general. Once they are given table food, they generally develop a preference for it over kibble and sometimes even over dog treats.

Table food can be given as an occasional reward for good behavior, but should not be given by itself, as it can lack many essential nutrients needed by dogs to grow and maintain a healthy immune system. Some owners prefer to give their pups a full diet of raw or cooked meat without any kibble, which by itself can be lacking in many areas, so dietary supplements are necessary to give all of the necessary nutrients. We prefer to feed Marou a kibble diet with supplements to help with a few of the deficiencies of kibble, like omega fatty acids and probiotics.

Stopping the begging behavior can be incredibly difficult if it is allowed to continue for too long. One of the simplest and probably most effective ways of doing this is to give your dog a toy like a Kong or another puzzle toy with a delicious treat in it to keep him/her occupied and not whining or sulking by the table. Another possibility is to keep him/her secluded behind a baby gate or other structure to keep him/her out of the room while you eat. If you must have them in the room and don't want to give them food or a treat, you may tether them to a large piece of furniture or other heavy object.

We try to feed Marou when we eat, as it usually keeps him occupied enough that he doesn't beg or try to steal our food. We do occasionally offer him a bite of our food if we have done our homework and know that it is one hundred percent safe for him and he's been very good lately. Sometimes this doesn't even work because Marou catches on to the fact that we are just trying to distract him, and he totally ignores all other food and treats.

Although begging is a nuisance, it can possibly be destructive with bigger dogs, as they can accidentally break things or hurt people to get to the food they're after. Early training resulting in prevention or minimizing of the behavior is important in making your canine a good citizen and keeping your meal times pleasant.

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