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!