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How to Teach Your Pet Not to Beg for Food

By Linda Cole

I had a cat that was so insistent with begging that she would jump up on my right side and wrap her claws around my right arm. That was the hand holding the fork. She usually came from under the table in one of her stealthy cat attacks and before I knew it, my arm was locked in combat with her claws. She was so quick that sometimes she actually stole my fork on its way to my mouth! She did learn not to beg, but it took a few boxes of bandages before I finally won the battle. It is possible to teach your pet not to beg for food. After all, we're the ones who taught them to beg in the first place, and it's more a matter of us breaking our bad habit.

It's hard to look into our pet's pleading eyes and not give them a treat from our plate. Yes, I know they like it, but it's not good for them and it can cause health problems that can turn into life threatening conditions. Cooked bones can splinter, causing mouth and stomach lacerations. Round bones can become caught on a tooth and any bone can get lodged between the teeth or in their throat, causing them to choke. Spicy and fatty foods can cause intestinal problems and hyperactivity. Accidental poisonings from pets’ consuming the wrong foods – like raisins, chocolate, candy and walnuts – go up during the holidays, when there’s more food around and more people to beg from. Not only that, table scraps add unnecessary pounds onto pets, and it's just as important for them to maintain a healthy body weight as it is for us. A quality pet food like CANIDAE and FELIDAE is all our four-legged friends really need for optimum health.

Let's face it, most pets have us figured out and if they want something we have, their begging eyes can be hard to resist. Especially if you have a pet who adds their own little “begging” dance to go along with the eyes. But it's not the pet's fault for begging if we give in and toss them a bite of what we have. We have to change our behavior to correct the behavior of our pet. Whenever there's food around, most dogs and cats will be enticed by the smell no matter what kind of food it is. Even with their food bowl filled, pets who are used to getting table scraps will continue to insist you share your food.

I was just as guilty as the next pet owner for tossing a tasty ‘treat’ to one of my pets, and it only takes one time to start a bad habit. Since I have multiple pets, I learned quickly that if I handed out treats during my meals I'd end up with nothing to eat, so that bad habit was easy for me to correct. If your pet persists in begging, the best thing you can do is simply remove them from the room while you eat. However, proper training will eliminate begging as long as you stay consistent and committed to training yourself.

I know it's easier said than done, but ignoring your pet will teach him begging won't work. Don't look at your pet, don't talk to them, and stay strong and determined. You can try feeding your pet at the same time you're eating, but most pets will still wait in anticipation. You can also try exercising your dog or playing with your cat just before you sit down for a meal. Tiring them out will get rid of pent up energy, and might help to reduce their begging.

If you give in and feed your pet table scraps, it's your fault if they beg while you're trying to enjoy your meal. Every time you give your pet some food from your plate, you're encouraging their behavior and teaching them it's OK to beg. Ignore them completely for their good health. You can't yell at your pet for begging. If it's a problem, put them in another room while you eat and commit to a ‘no table scrap oath’ for every member of your family. The best policy is not to give any table scraps to your pet at all. Once YOU are trained, your pet will be too!

Photo by Dan Coulter

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