Rottweiler Begging at the Table?
Rottweilers can be quite food-oriented dogs, and if your Rottweiler has started begging at the table, think again before pointing the finger at him. Most dog begging behaviors have been literally taught by their owners. The secret therefore to stop a dog from begging is to stop rewarding dog begging behaviors in the first place!
If one day you sat at the table and your Rottweiler gave you that “Oh, that looks so good’’ look and you gave in by passing just a tiny piece of that juicy steak you were eating, chances are high, at your next eating session, your Rottweiler will be closer to the table, looking at you while drooling buckets of saliva. To better understand why this is happening, simply think of this basic rule: behaviors that are rewarded are reinforced and tend to repeat and increase. It’s ultimately the power of positive reinforcement training.
If you have already given in to those pleading eyes supplicating a tiny piece of your meal, consider that you will be stuck with a big Rottweiler glued to your leg, looking at you as if he didn’t eat for decades while drooling like a Saint Bernard! Don’t feel bad, even though your Rottweiler may try to make you feel guilty. You must ultimately think that some of your foods aren’t that healthy for your Rottweiler and you definitively don’t want him to put on some pounds. So, stop “feeding” the behavior if you want your Rottweiler to stop begging at the table.
Something to be aware of when stopping a behavior that has been a habit for some time, is a phenomenon known as “extinction bursts.” If you always gave in when your Rottweiler looked at you at eating a steak by giving him some morsels, the day you abruptly stop feeding him, you will see an increase in the begging behavior. He may bark at you, paw at you, to inform you he is there waiting for his tasty morsels. The dynamic is similar to a child who throws a tantrum at the store because mom one day decided not to buy him candy. The best way to deal with this is to totally ignore the behavior. An extinction burst as the name implies, means the behavior is about to extinguish, so if you don’t fuel it by giving more food, the behavior will eventually stop.
We often tell our dogs what not to do, but it’s also important telling them what to do instead. If you want to eat in peace at the table you can train your Rottweiler to lay down in his spot while you eat (see the ”go to your place’’ section on how to train this) and let him keep a long stay until you are done eating. Then, you can release him and reward him with a healthy snack. If you own a young Rottweiler or a Rottweiler who is unable to hold a long stay, you can keep him occupied by giving him an interactive toy, like a stuffed Kong or a safe chew bone. This way, you get to enjoy your food and your Rottweiler gets to stay occupied while working on the Kong. If you do this every day, it will become a routine you both look forward to.
→Did you know? Extinction bursts are a good thing! It’s a sign that what you are doing to extinguish a behavior is working, so keep it up, ignore the dog begging behavior and it will soon be gone for good!