Begging Allowed

We have a pretty strict begging policy in our house. As in, it’s always allowed. There are parameters for this rule, of course. We don’t just let Shiva snorfle off our plates or jump on the table while we eat. But, if she quietly lays on her mat, I don’t mind her watchful stare. I also don’t mind tossing her a little something every now and then.

Begging is obviously a natural behaviour for dogs. They all seem to be experts at it from birth. Over time, Shiva has learned just how to push my softie buttons. She knows what works and what doesn’t. Whining always guarantees her removal from the room. Slowly inching closer, ensures we will move her mat further back. But if she stays where she has been told and tilts her head just so…

Pretty hard to resist, right?

Begging is not something my childhood dog was ever permitted to do. My parents didn’t like it and the dog was usually kicked outside during meals. We were all prohibited from sharing our food with her. She ate her kibble and that was it. When we adopted Shiva, I expected to follow this same no begging rule. I assumed it was the best way to maintain control during meal time. I also assumed that “people food” was bad for dogs.

When I started learning so much more about dog behaviour, the idea of begging bothered me much less. I believe receiving little bits of vegetable or chicken helps Shiva to feel more included in the family. It’s not just the food she wants, although that’s a big part of it, but I think she also wants to feel a part of the group. We humans have all the good stuff. By sharing some of that with her, under certain conditions, we are letting her know she belongs.

That’s how I see it anyway. I certainly don’t mean to criticize anyone who doesn’t allow this behaviour. I’ve learned dog training is all about what one is willing to put up with. Some people don’t like their dogs on the furniture. Some people let their dogs lay where they please. Some people sleep with their dogs in the same bed. Some people don’t. It’s all about one’s lifestyle. Begging fits very nicely into ours.

Happy Friday! If you’ve got the urge for some shopping this weekend, I highly recommend checking out the Be the Change for Pets Rummage Sale. There is some pretty cool stuff available and all of the proceeds are going to help animals! So you know, the money totally doesn’t count. It’s all guilt-free spending. Can’t go wrong there!

32 thoughts on “Begging Allowed

  1. Of course you couldn’t resist that face! You’d have to be made of stone!

    I also have no problem with Honey being close at hand when we eat and like it when she’s under the table (which is where I want her when we eat at outdoor restaurants–it’s good practice).

    What I’ve started doing, however, to discourage getting too close or aggressive, is tossing her food when she lies down or looks away from me. She’s learning to look like she doesn’t care to get tidbits.

    The reason I decided to start this is because not all my guests like to have a little golden dog drooling on their knee at dinner.

    So I know Honey’s begging when she lies down and looks away but my guests think she’s very well-behaved!

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    • That’s a great idea! Shiva knows she is supposed to lay on her mat, that’s the rule, but I didn’t think of training her to look away. Very smart.

      Since we almost never have guests I don’t worry about it too much. Besides, Shiva would probably be too busy freaking out over strangers in her house to worry about begging. 😛

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  2. Oh dear, who could ever resist that face of Shiva!
    Eva does the same expression when she needs something from us too, first she will poke us with her wet snout, then she sits. When she knows we’ve paid attention to her, she tilts her head, stares into our eyes and wags her tail at the same time.

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    • Awwww! Just picturing all that and I am melting. Dogs are very good at training us to give them what they want.

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  3. I’m not into the begging at the table, mostly for guests sake. Stumpy waits off to the side, knowinging her reward is coming the minute the dishes are cleared.

    I don’t know if i could resist Shiva’s cuteness!

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    • Exactly. As long as her butt in on her mat, she’s fine but if she starts inching toward us, then she knows she’s crossed the line. The food we share is a reward for her good behaviour. At least that’s what I tell myself.

      Because I would never give her a treat just for being cute…

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  4. Lollie/Lily had that same head tilt look and it just made me melt! We don’t feed the dogs from the table, but I do often put a little bit of our dinner in a kong with some peanut butter or kibble or whatever else is in the fridge so they can happily snack while we eat, too.

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    • That’s another good idea, giving them something of their own so they don’t feel left out.

      I normally toss her one of her bones to chew but that never seems to be as interesting as what is on my plate.

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  5. She is too cute for words! Delilah takes the “stare down” approach. (If I stare long/hard enough I can will them to give me food.)

    Sampson usually just lays and waits; although he has been known to put his head on your knee and look at you pathetically.

    I don’t mind them begging as long as they aren’t snarfing food off my plate. 🙂

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    • The little tail wag is always what gets me too! It’s not a full wag, just the tip. Like she’s excited but trying to restrain herself. So cute.

      Thanks!

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    • LOL. Thanks, she things so too. It is a very well-practiced move.

      I’ll be honest, we do have the head tilt on cue. When I filmed this, I was tilting my own head, which is the visual signal. (The verbal is the word “cute!” in a high-pitched voice.) But she really does do this on her own when we have food.

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  6. Aww the tilting head look, gets me every time!

    For the most part Sophie has learned begging gets her nowhere. If she is being difficult she has to go to her bed and stay while we eat. If she is behaving, she can lay next to me while I eat or wherever she wants.

    She is usually rewarded for her patience on Sunday mornings, she gets to enjoy our scrambled egg breakfast. Yup, scrambled eggs for four people and 2 dogs is always on the menu 🙂

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  7. Our begging policy sounds like yours… it’s always allowed! Well, within reason, of course. Bella’s pretty subtle… she just stares with those sad puppy eyes until I can’t resist. She occasionally inches closer, but she never whines and never tries to paw at me or hop on my lap/the table. When I was a kid, our dogs were begging champions – my Toy Fox Terrier would even stand next to me with her front paws in my lap while I ate. We were a bunch of pushovers!

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  8. Bender is a masterful begger, even though I have never fed him while I have been eating. Barbie doesn’t bother to beg… she can sit next to me on the couch while I am eating and not ask for anything… it’s almost like begging is beneath her Greyhound holiness :O

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  9. I couldn’t resist that little face, that’s for sure! I give ours a bite or two, if they’ve been waiting patiently, but hubby is a lot more of a pushover than I am! Which is why when we’re eating in the living room, the girls all surround him and I get to eat in peace! lol

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  10. I use to never tolerate begging. It wasn’t thought of growing up. But my husband believes all the dogs are starving all the time is constantly giving in to those dopey, hungry eyes. So to comprosmised, the dogs get a few bites of our meal after we are done eating and they are always great about waiting patiently.

    I mean really how can you not resist those sweet little faces?

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  11. I’ve always fed my pets from the table, kittehs included. As long as the animals are polite, I’m fine with it. Jersey stands next to me with her chin on my knee, expectantly looking upwards. Ever hopeful that the pack will always provide.

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  12. Maple hasn’t yet caught on to the concept of begging, but she does give that momentary look of deprivation then walks away slowly with her head down…

    Although I rarely feed Maple directly from my plate, my husband will do so occasionally. For the most part, we’ll set aside some bits and pieces during the preparation stage of cooking. After our meals, we’ll take Maple’s portion out from the fridge and let her have a go.

    I think it all really depends on the household and the dog—if Shiva’s happy then that’s all that matters.

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  13. Rikki has a very adorable head tilt as well. When we talk to him, he often tilts his head as if he’s trying to understand what we’re saying, keeping an ear out for buzz words.

    The parents spoil Rikki more than they ever spoiled Nikita. Nikita would get popcorn, and that was about it. Rikki’s favourite seems to be raw carrots, so we sometimes give him a baby carrot or the like.

    Not too much though since he’s on prescribed diet food. Ha ha.

    But we feed him the same time we eat usually, so it’s like we’re all eating together. 🙂

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  14. Frankie isn’t really into people type food, or not the food I eat anyway:) So he hardly ever begs. Beryl is a different story, she likes to try everything I’m eating, but she’s not real pushy about it so she usually gets a taste after sitting for it:) I’m glad she hasn’t got a cute head tilt like Shiva or she would probably get most of my meal, lol!

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