Let’s say you went shopping at the mall with your dog. You both stop for a quick drink and snack along the way. While you’re finishing up and getting ready to head out, someone walks by with their dog and offers it a scrap of food from their table. Your dog sees this and, before you can do anything about it, starts begging for that same scrap of food because there’s competition in front of his nose.
Many pet owners know how difficult it is to train their dogs to eat only from them. However, training your dog not to beg isn’t impossible if done correctly and consistently over time. And the best thing about training your dog? It will make them more comfortable around other people while eating.
Some Reasons Why It is Important to Train Your Dog to Eat Only from You
It Can Save Your Dog from the Harm’s Way
Pet stores, restaurants and stores are not the only places that can have food on their floor. Every homeowner knows how messy eaters can be after a scrumptious meal. Some may say your dog is too cute to discipline them, but if they beg for scraps of food from other people’s plates while dining out or at home, it could cause serious harm to them later on.
It Can Save You from an Embarrassing Situation
Imagine attending a formal dinner with your beloved pooch by your side. Of course, they’re adorable, but what would you do when all eyes are upon you because your pup is hounding another diner seated across the room? Even worse, the person they’re hounding happens to be the host of the event, and you’re not sure how to diffuse this awkward situation.
Training Your Dog Not to Beg for Food at First May Prove Difficult, but It Will Get Easier Over Time
It’s important to remember that training is a process. If your dog has been begging for scraps from other people’s plates since they were a puppy, then it will take some time before they get accustomed to only eating from your hand. Patience and consistency are critical components of training your dog not to beg first.
Begging Behaviors Unique to Dogs
Dogs can be as individual as people when it comes to how they behave with their food. For example, some dogs may develop a habit of staring at another person while they’re eating, while others might slide closer to them when begging for food.
Here’s How I Took Care of This Issue Myself!
I love my new dog. He’s so cute. I bring him into the house and show him where his food bowl is. “There you go, boy, eat up! This is all for you!” He runs to his bowl and starts stuffing his face full of kibble. It was adorable, but apparently, he wasn’t satisfied because he kept looking back at me like he wanted more. “That’s all for now, buddy, good boy!” He simply stored looking at me with the ones sad eyes, hungry for additonal meals. I go into the kitchen to get him some water, and guess what? There was a trail of kibble leading out the dog door. That little tyke had been eating kibble all day and sneaking it outside! I think he just wanted some attention from me. He knew that I would follow him around the house, giving him pets and love as long as he went outside to eat.
He had been trained to use his kibble as a tool for getting what he wanted from me!
I’m hoping you never have to enjoy this, but in case you do, don’t worry. You can fix your dog’s behavior pretty easily with a little time and training. Just like dogs learn how to use their environment to get what they want from us, we can also train them not to do this by following a few simple steps.
Let’s start with the easiest, most effective training techniques.
This is actually something that professional dog trainers have been using for nearly 100 years to teach dogs good habits and stop bad ones. You can use it to fix pretty much any behavior you want your dog to quit doing. All you have to do is follow these easy steps every time your dog does something you don’t like.
Make Sure Your Dog Knows What's Wrong
If they don’t know why you’re upset with them, how will you stop the behavior? The first step is to let your dog know when they’ve done something wrong. When I was doing graduate work in psychology, one of my favorite professors used to say, “To change their future performance, simply tell them what they did wrong.”
Discipline Your Puppy
Now that they know what they did wrong, it’s time to give them a little hard time. Punishments can come in all shapes and sizes too. A simple stare would sometimes work for our dog because he knew it meant I was upset with him, but other times we had to go as far as taking away their ability to see us so they couldn’t get our attention at all.
Keep trying different punishments until you find one your dog is not only afraid of but makes them stop performing the behavior you don’t like. You might have to try a few things before finding the perfect punishment. If you give up, your dog will never learn that certain behaviors are wrong, and they’ll continue to do them over and over again.
Reward Your Dog
Once you’ve put your dog through a little discipline, make sure you follow it up with a reward. You can use affection, treats or toys as rewards for good behavior. Think of it like this: If I want my dog never to leave little presents outside anymore, then the next time he goes out into the yard without me right behind him, I will scold him and give him a punishment such as locking him in the house until he has calmed down. Then I might go out with some treats and try to play with him so we can spend some quality time together. This way, my dog will associate going outside without me with getting locked inside for a short time, and he won’t go out without me again.
The key to effective training is making sure your dog knows what they’re doing wrong, then punishing them for it (not too hard, though). Sometimes you might not need to punish them; you can make them really happy instead by rewarding good behavior. Once you’ve done all of this consistently for a while, your dog will quickly realize that if they behave the way you want them to, they’ll get something great like affection or treats. However, bad matters will occur in the event that they do some thing you don’t like!
Do you see how consistent positive reinforcement and consistent corrections together can solve problems? Now let’s look at why my puppy used kibble as a tool and fix the problem.
My puppy had figured out that he could use my kibble as a tool for getting what he wanted from me! When I put his food bowl down, if he went and looked at it, then I would give him a treat or two to go back and eat his dinner. But if he ate all of his kibbles before coming back to me, I would eventually take his food bowl away and send him to bed without any dinner.
This is called positive punishment because the presence of my dog’s food bowl was causing my dog negative consequences (starvation). Remember how we talked about consistency being important when training your dog? Well, you’ll have to be consistent with both your rewards AND punishments for your dog to learn what is expected of them.
To stop my puppy from using kibble as a tool, I went through 3 different phases:
I would put his food down and not give him any treats for going over to eat it. Then, if he tried taking his bowl off the counter, I’d take it away and go back in 10 secs to let him have it again. This way, he only gets rewarded for coming back when I tell him “okay.”
Once my puppy realized that his bowl was only brought out when I told him okay, he was so excited when I actually did say okay! He wanted me to come to play with him instead of bringing out the food bowl. So to change this, I started rewarding him with a treat when he ate his kibble and playing with him only after he was done.
This is called negative reinforcement because the absence of my food bowl weight (not taking it away) was causing the behavior (eating all his kibble) to increase. This is fine in moderation; if you do this too much, your dog will never learn that they’re supposed to eat their dinner.
Once my puppy did what I wanted and stopped eating his food before coming back to me for a play session by doing step#2 consistently, I took away the need for consistency by always letting them eat their dinner first before we went out to play. So even if he tried eating his dinner before coming to me, I would wait for him and do whatever we were going to do after he finished.
This is called extinction because the presence of my bowl was causing the behavior (eating all his kibble) to decrease. Finally, after doing Step#3 consistently for a while, our puppy realized that there was no point in eating his food before coming back, so he stopped trying it. He finally understood what we wanted from him.
Sometimes your dog might not understand what they’re supposed to do or change their behavior if you only punish them every once in a while. You have to be consistent with your punishments, or your dog won’t learn anything new. This means that you can’t go on a 16-hour sugar high, then get mad at your dog because they wee-peed on the carpet.
You have to remember the fact that you’re liable for what your dog does. They can’t learn from their mistakes if you are inconsistent with your corrections. Otherwise, he’ll be a bad doggie and won’t understand how to behave. This also goes back to why positive reinforcement is important: if there’s no negative consequence for doing something wrong, then there’s no reason not to do it!
What is Obedience Training and How It Can Help Train Your Dog to Eat Only from You?
Obedience training is a way of teaching your dog how to behave in different situations by using commands. For example, when you obedience train your pup to follow certain commands, they can learn what is expected of them when they need to listen or perform an action.
This means that if you teach them “come” and “sit,” then they are more likely to trust you, pay attention to you, and do what you say when the time comes. This also helps establish yourself as their leader because now your dog will respect your authority.
This wouldn’t be possible if I didn’t have obedience training with my puppy. Then, he would just run around the house eating crumbs off the floor instead of waiting for me outside. Now, he knows that he’s not allowed to eat food off the ground, and I’m the only one who can give it to him because I’m his leader.
Basic Commands in Obedience Training Your Dog
That is a command to get your canine to sit. Holding the treat in one hand and above your pup’s head, slowly bring it forward and move it closer towards their nose if they ignore you. When they look at the treat and begin to eat it, say “yes” and give them the treat while saying “good boy/girl.” If you’re not successful, try bringing the treat farther down towards their belly. This will make them realize that if they follow what you want them to do (sit), they’ll get rewarded with tasty treats!
This command tells your dog not to move from a certain area until told otherwise because movement makes it difficult for you to control them. You’ll need to ensure that you have a secure leash and collar on your pup before attempting this command.
Start by calling your dog as you would for the “come” command (see below). Then, when they come to you, immediately say “yes” and give them some treats as a reward. After doing this several times, gradually increase how far away from you they are allowed to go before saying “stay.”
Some people will have their dog sit after giving the “stay” command, but it’s more effective if they stand up because it’s easier for them to move around without getting distracted. This is why I started with my puppy standing next to me when he first learned these commands.
This command tells your dog to come towards you as fast as they can because it’s time for a treat. This should be pretty easy if you have a fenced yard because you need to call them and say “yes” when they get to you.
If not, use a long leash and hold the other end of it with a closed fist. When your dog gets close enough, move your hand out so that the leash is tight and pull up slightly until they notice it. Then, say “yes” and give them treats while saying “good boy/girl.” You can also tug gently if they don’t take notice of the leash right away. Repeat this until your pup responds very quickly at the chance.
In conclusion, you can train your dog in different behaviors by punishing them when they do something wrong or rewarding them when they do something right. You also have to be consistent with these punishments, or your dog won’t learn anything new. Do this slowly and gradually for appropriate behaviors, and remember that obedience training is important for establishing yourself as a leader for your pup. Remember- if you stay calm and patient, it will make training easier on both of you.
Good luck training your pup for eating only from you!