How to Get a Cocker Spaniel to Stop Begging

It's hard to deny a cocker spaniel's soulful eyes.
i Cocker Spaniel Puppy image by Philip Date from

When your sweet cocker spaniel stares up at you, begging with those loving eyes, it's hard to deny her anything. But if you're not careful, giving in to begging will soon have your intelligent little dog opening cupboards and stealing from the trash. Stop the habit before it gets out of hand.

Step 1

Feed your cocker spaniel with consistency: only in her dish, always set in a certain spot and at the same times each day. The recommended timing is different depending on which expert you're talking to. Some say feeding the dog before you eat, just before you sit down to your dinner, will keep her occupied as well as fill her belly, minimizing her interest in your food. Others, like Liz Palika in her book on cocker spaniels say feeding your dog after you eat is the preferred time, and reinforces you as the alpha in the household. Before or after you eat, all agree that feeding your cocker spaniel at the same times each day is key in discouraging begging.

Step 2

Distract your cocker spaniel with a toy or a treat of her own just before you sit down to the table or if you're eating a snack. Giving your dog a biscuit or a toy that can be stuffed with treats that she has to work at will take her attention away from what you're eating. Put her in another room when you do this to keep her attention -- and her soulful gaze -- off of you.

Step 3

Ignore your cocker spaniel's pleas for a morsel, if you have the strength. Don't look at her or talk to her, even to tell her "no." When you talk to your dog, no matter what you're saying, she will be getting a reaction from you that will reinforce her behavior, teaching her that begging will lead to what she wants: attention and possibly a taste from your plate.

Step 4

Enroll your dog and yourself in training classes. Cocker spaniels are smart dogs who can easily be taught essential commands like down, sit and stay. Once you and your cocker are both accomplished in the basics, controlling her begging behavior while you're eating will be easier.

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