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Begging

Pug Dog Begging Behavior

Overview

Does your Pug know how to get what he wants? Do you routinely give in, later wishing you hadn't? Or perhaps you sometimes give your Pug a certain food knowing that it wasn't the best choice, but darn it your dog has begging down to an art form.

If your Pug begs for things on a regular basis, some changes should be made. Not only will it make life easier for you, it will also help make your Pug a calmer, happier dog. Why? All that begging is stressful. A dog is put on alert and he a sense of urgency and unrest until you finely give in. However, if a Pug learns to stop begging, he can then go about his day on a more even keel. 

In addition, if a dog begs for food that isn't part of a healthy diet and wins out more often than not, this will affect him over time. What a dog eats and his activity level are major influencers of his health. 

In this section we will cover:
  • Why Dogs Beg
  • 7 Steps to Train a Pug Dog to Stop Begging
Why Dogs Beg

In order to stop a particular behavior that a dog displays, it is important to understand why it is done in the first place. A Pug dog will beg for one of two reasons:

1. He is unsure of the outcome. He desperately wants something (most often a certain food). It has not been established if he is allowed to have this, so he will make every attempt to obtain it. 

2. He knows the outcome is favorable. He knows if he begs hard enough and long enough, he will receive the object (or action) that he desires. Dogs don't have the slew of material objects that we humans have. A Pug's favorite toys and their food are highlights of their day. It means a lot to them. What would mean a lot to you? Imagine that you knew that if you begged long enough (several hours or even on and off all day) that it would end with you receiving a new car. You'd probably do it, right?
Pug puppy
Suki, 8 weeks old
Photo courtesy of Cheryl Huffman
The Physiological Factor

While your Pug dog begs to satisfy a want, you comply to gain something as well. When you hand over that piece of food you feel as if you are showing love. After all, when we love somebody (or something), we want to make them happy, even if it is temporary and even if it may not be the wisest choice in the long run.  

Begging is not easy to watch or to hear, and surrendering to it not only immediately calms your Pug down, it makes you feel that you are a good owner by keeping him happy. It's only later that you realize things are getting out of hand. 

In some cases, a Pug dog may work so hard to get something, (barking, whining, jumping) and makes such a commotion, that conceding to the dog appears to be the only way to make him quiet down.   
How to Stop Begging Behavior

Knowing that the two reasons a Pug dog will beg is that he either is not sure of the outcome or he knows he will eventually win you over, the training to stop this is rather straight forward: You must train your Pug to learn that begging will not bring desired results.  
Of course, this is easier said than done. It takes a tremendous amount of willpower and it also takes a bit of time.  
Here are the steps to follow:

1. Decide what foods your Pug is allowed and not allowed to eat. While main meals are important, snacks and treats play a huge role in health as well. In fact, for some dogs that constantly beg for treats or their owner's food, they may be given so much that they eat less at meal time, essentially taking in more calories due to snacks than meals. 
Reassess your Pug's snacks. Keep what he really loves (or obtain better ones). Have special ones reserved for rewarding good behavior (following commands, house training, etc.) and others as fillers between mealtimes.  

If there are certain foods that your Pug dog begs for that you feel are okay for him to eat, it is best to work these into his meals. For example, if he always begs for a piece of a banana any time you peel one or barks to be given some tuna fish, add a bit of that food into his kibble. Just be sure it is a food that is safe for canine consumption and is relatively healthy and low in calories. This way, you can stay strong while training to stop begging, since you'll know that he's receiving the food in his bowl. 

2. Everyone in the house must be in agreement. All people in the household must be on the same page that training to stop begging is about to begin. Dogs are very clever and if there is a weak link in the chain, your Pug will find it. If you and three others stick to the plan, but that forth person can't stand it and slips the Pug food, the entire training effort will be done in vain. 
3. Do not give in. Dogs are marvelous at being able to wear down owners. When they beg, they seemingly have endless energy. They'll go and go and just never stop! However, dogs will stop. The key is to outlast them. 

There are methods to make this stage go faster (see ahead) however the basis of the training must remain: No matter what, no matter how much barking, whining or jumping is done, no matter how cute your Pug looks or how bad you feel for him, he will not be given what he's begging for. All behavior must be 100% completely ignored. 

One of the biggest hurdles here is feeling that you are a bad owner for making your Pug sad. They are wonderful with facial expression and you're not the only owner to see actual sadness and hurt reflected in those awesomely large eyes. However if you take excellent care of your Pug, offer good meals, groom him well, play with him and overall offer him a wonderful life, don't feel bad for ignoring his begging.
Pug with brindle coat
Otis, 8 months old
Photo courtesy of Devashish Khanayat
4. Distract. This can be a bit tricky. You do not want to inadvertently train a Pug that if he barks enough, he may not get a certain food, but he may get pats or be taken for a walk or some other form of reward. Keeping this in mind, have a few select toys at the ready. When your Pug starts to beg, completely ignore him. When there is a break in the barking or whining (even if it is just for your dog to catch his breath) use that opportunity to hand him an interesting toy. Do time this right so that he does not think he is being rewarded. This may throw him off track… or he may ignore it, however it's worth a try.

As you transition from one thing (eating, preparing your food, etc.) into the next thing, you can encourage your Pug to pay attention to the new element. Most begging stops once the object of longing is out of view. 
Pug dog in cape
 "Woof, rufff, rrrr...grrr... UMPHF!"
Translation:  "Tweets for treats...? ... or share for... ahh...  a pear??? 
Well, you get the gist!  Show me some love & share this site before you read on!"
5. Reward good behavior. As times goes by, periods of a break from barking and whining will become longer. For example, a Pug may bark like mad when you're at the dinner table, re-think his actions by laying down for a bit and then come back with full force to beg some more. 
During that window of good behavior, reward it. Use words of praise, pats of affection and reward via one of the toys (if it has not already been offered). With an enthusiastic tone of voice, let your Pug learn that his behavior is excellent. Dogs aim to please, so by teaching your Pug that he's doing great, he will be more apt to repeat whatever action brought him attention and approval. 

6. Have patience. This training phase can last anywhere from 1 week to 1 month. However, it does have an end. You just need to be strong enough to reach it. When a dog learns that his efforts do not bring about any changes, he will not put energy into that effort any longer. Canines are great like this; they will follow the path of least resistance and take actions only if favorable. 

The key is to stick with the training long enough for the Pug to figure it out: Begging = nothing; Not begging = praise and reward. 
7. Step things up a notch in other areas. Since it will be common for you to feel bad that you're ignoring your Pug, it can help to offer fun and happiness in other ways. Take your Pug out to explore a new route, bring him along to a pet supply store to pick out a new toy, carve out some time to teach a new command or play a game of fetch. When you feel that you're doing a outstanding job as a caring owner, it will be easier to stay strong when your dog begs. 
perfect Pug dog resting on sofa
Rio, 2 and 1/2 years old
Photo courtesy of Priya Purusotham
A Final Word

Since Pugs are prone to becoming overweight and a healthy diet is such an important part of keeping a Pug in good condition, taking steps to stop begging - in the long run - is the most loving thing you can do. The pleasure of eating food is very temporary. It's much more important for your Pug to eat well-balanced meals and receive regular exercise.
Once your Pug has learned to stop begging, you'll notice that he's happier. The pressure and stress of working so hard to be given something will be gone. Dogs often do best when rules are established and clear lines are drawn. 
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