DEAR OLD TRAINER: I have three dogs, two Lab mixes and a Doberman, all males. They follow orders and behave like angels except for one thing—they beg and beg while I am eating. I feed them first, then when I sit down to eat they stare at me like they are starved and sometimes add a pitiful whine. Is there any way to stop it?
Kathleen, Laughlin, Nev.
A: Yes. It’s easy to explain, but hard to do because dogs are the most accomplished beggars on the planet.
They fake looking sad and downcast, use our love for them against us, and never feel the least guilt about manipulating us to get what they want.
You say, “No more treats and I mean it.” They think, “Keep begging boys, she’ll cave like she always does.”
They won’t stop begging on their own, so it’s up to you to make them stop. Here’s how you do it. After they eat, give each one a piece of kibble, stand straight and tall, look them in the eye, hold both hands out, palms facing them, move them two feet apart, and say, “That’s all.”
The hand signal is the same as that of a blackjack dealer when relieved. If you don’t play blackjack, it’s what Tom Cruise does at least 5 times every movie to show he is really serious. You don’t have to hold your index fingers up and turn your head sideways like Tom does though.
It only works if you make up your mind you will never give in. They will know in an instant if you are weak.
Once you do it, turn and walk away. Never relent. Never. Do it every day. If they try to beg, roll up a newspaper, slap your leg to make noise and tell them to get on their beds or put them outside. In a few days they will realize the signal means the fun is over and there is no appeal.
But if you ever relent, even one time, they will never pay attention to the command again.
DEAR OLD TRAINER: My husband and I found an adorable little Shih Tzu puppy for sale on-line and want to buy her, but my daughter objected and said it is likely a scam. We want a dog, but don’t want to lose money to a fraud. What’s your advice?
Anita, Wichita, Kan.
A: My advice is, never send money to a Nigerian Prince to help him get money out of Nigeria and never buy a dog off the Internet.
Using a picture of a beautiful puppy to steal money from people has become one of the most common crimes on the web.
The mere fact someone wants to ship it to you is indication of fraud. No reputable shelter or breeder operates that way. You never adopt a pet unless you see it and spend time with it first.
Visit your local shelters and tell them what you’re looking for. Their only interest is finding the perfect dog for you, not lining their pockets. Spend time with the dogs they recommend. Play with them, love on them, watch them. One will fall in love with you and tell you she’s the dog for you. That’s how you find the perfect dog, not from a picture on the internet.
A trainer for more than 30 years, Jack Haskins has rescued, trained and placed more than 2,500 dogs. Send questions to email@example.com.