Good morning; begging came to mind this morning with all the yummy food that is starting to be prepared and consumed this holiday season. And the fact that I had quite a begging situation lastnight. So how bad is begging and how far should it be allowed to progress or encroach? Begging is a very natural behavior for dogs. Watch any documentary on wolves and you will see the exact same behavior within a pack. Begging goes as far as the "alpha" wolves will allow it. The act of begging is how a dog asks for the food that you are at the moment; eating. Begging in general is not a bad behavior; infact I consider it to be quite an amazing behavior.
Most trainers think of begging as simply unacceptable; but how well mannered is a dog that sits and watches you consume a delicious meal without attempting to remove it from you? I think it is a very controlled behavior when a dog can accomplish this; especially if they are drooling at the sametime.
When it is not acceptable is when they do attempt to take your food from you; whether by charm or cheer force. Dogs who try to take food from you forcefully by grabbing or jumping probably lack manners in all aspects of their life. Training and rule enforcement is a must to get this under control.
Even the ones who sneakily attempt to take your food; inching up on you without notice then ever so slightly moving their head forwards. If you give in at this point you have not only been had but you have just lowered your status within the pack. Eye contact is a great way to let your dog know they are way too close to your food. Moving towards them if eye contact is not enough and when they move back you sit and eat.
It is essential that you should be able to complete a down stay with your dog while you are eating so you know that if you desire this amount of control, you have it. So rethink the whole begging issue; does your dog watch you eat from several feet away? Do their eyes watch every bite you take? Then that's pretty amazing to me. Having them not watch at all is a difficult task and needless in my mind.
Always reward your dog for good behavior, do not give in to those sad eyes moving in on your food or you have been had and out brained by your dog.