One of the ways your dog uses to get your sympathy is by looking at you wide eyed and begging. Usually this kind of behavior is linked to food but sometimes it may surface out of the need of attention.
Begging does not come naturally to dogs although raising the paws to get attention is something very natural.
A puppy will raise its little paws to play and eventually will stay a second or two in balance. When noticing this, the master tends to be impressed and commend the dog for doing this. Here is when conditioning comes into the picture.
The dog begging has a realistic origin. As the puppies grow up the mother is less and less tempted to lie down and nurse them.
This is why the little ones tend to lift their front paws in order to reach the mother milk. In their little brains the gesture is associated with hunger and creates and automatism that later in life translates as begging.
The dog receiving praise for its behavior will be motivated to repeat the behavior and if encouraged, the begging may become a problem. When the food comes in question, begging can become a real issue.
If you do not set up a rule and stick with it – not allowing any of the family members to feed the dog with the food from the table – the meals will become an extremely annoying event.
Of course there are many cases when the master encourages the gesture for the sake of fun and rewards the dog with treats to show it how smart and obedient it is.
There is no surprise that the small breeds are more inclined to beg and be funny about it than the larger ones. Their height and the natural enthusiasm of trying to be noticed increase the odds of their becoming perfect beggars. They will stand on the back paws to get attention, and from there to begging, the road is very short.
The shape of their little bodies is compact and makes it easier for them to stay in balance than in the case of the breeds with taller body and longer legs. The ability of a small breed like the Bichon Frise to be very cute while begging made it ideal for circus shows which exploited the annoying begging into one of the most beloved dog acts.