(and Still Feed Him From the Table)
Most dog training sites have simple steps for training a dog to quit begging; they recommend that you remove the dog from the situation (e.g., crate) and ignore the dog. Of course this works with Weimaraners too, but I’ll tell you a secret. You can have it both ways.
I confess. I LIKE feeding my Weims from my plate. And yes, they do beg. But they also lay down and stop it on command. They’ll also stop when we ignore them. By ignore I mean, no eye contact; he is invisible and you are blind! I don’t care if you Weim is doing back flips while screaming, you don’t see him!
Anyway, this is how you train it:
- Start by putting a comfortable dog bed down near where you usually eat. You don’t have to do this, but it helps in the beginning.
- Eat your meal as usual.
- When your Weimaraner comes to beg with those “I’m so starving” eyes, ignore him. Don’t make this hard on yourself – I assure you, he’s lying to you, he’s not starving.
- If he knows a “place” command so that you can tell him to lay on his bed, do so. If he doesn’t know this, it’s OK, just wait for him to go lie down somewhere. (It doesn’t have to be on his bed, it can be anywhere, and actually, he doesn’t have to lie down, he just needs to quit staring at you.)
- Throw him a piece of food from your plate when he quits staring. This part is very important! You don’t want to treat your Weim when he’s looking at you as he will start to try to stare the food out of you (i.e., intense begging) even from afar.
- You can give him a “jackpot” reward if he’s managed to stay calm and contained for the entire meal by letting him lick your plate when you are done.
- Repeat. Practice makes perfect!
- When your Weim gets good at this game, you should be able to call him to you to give him a piece of food while you are eating or even reach under the table and give him a treat without getting him to start begging again.
This behavior will get generalized. For those times I am sitting on the couch and eating with my Weims on the couch next to me, they are conditioned to keep from staring. It’s actually pretty funny to see them struggling with this when I have something really good; they’ll turn their heads away and then try to look out of the corner of their eye without staring. (“I’m not looking, I’m not looking!”)
Photo courtesy of Trailing Friday.