Why do dogs beg for food?

April 13, 2012

In the course of the history of humankind’s relationship with the dog, the dog has come to look at people as being able to provide it with food. Since a dog is also a pack animal with a social hierarchy, the treatment of food by the pack is important to a dog. In the dog pack, the top dog will eat first. Dogs with lower status do not take food before the leader dog because this is seen as a direct challenge to their authority. A dog may make the challenge for the food before the the alpha dog in an attempt to become the alpha dog itself.

This is an important concept to remember when you rightfully establish yourself as the leader of the pack in your household. As the leader of the pack, you must eat before the dog eats. If you allow your dog to beg from you and to get a morsel of food before you, you are giving the dog a boost up the social ladder in your home.

Once, someone shares some of their food with the dog, the dog then not only realizes that its dog food is inferior in taste, scent and appearance to what its masters are getting, the stage now has been set for more begging. The dog will beg for another morsel, and once that begging behavior has worked, the dog will continue begging nonstop. At every meal, you will see the staring or blinking eyes that are entranced by every move you make.

Depending on the personality of the dog, what started as tender looks can escalate into pawing, jumping, whining, barking and even growling, particularly if you have a dominant breed of dog. If the dog is growling his command for a treat, you have a problem. Your dog may be so persistent that you feel that you are getting bossed into giving your pet a treat.

In that case, your alpha status has been weakened, especially if you give the dog a treat before you feed yourself. As the leader of the pack, you must not tamper with your leader status by interfering with whose food is whose, letting the dog eat before you eat or by giving in again to the dog’s begging efforts, if the begging behavior has been started.

If you have ever eaten with a dog pawing and staring at you, you know how uncomfortable it can be. However compelling those dog eyes can be as they try to will you into sharing some of your food, you must not succumb to the temptation because it leads to imbalance of power in your relationship with the dog. You and your dog will be much happier when you give the dog a treat at appropriate times for good behavior instead.

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