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Can you stop your dog from begging for food all the time?
Looking into those sad puppy eyes, you might think that your pup has never had anything to eat in his life. And that after you fed him 10 minutes ago!
I guess we all know them: those begging irresistible puppy eyes right under your dinner table.
But begging usually isn’t a very welcome behavior. At least once the “awww-factor” has worn off.
So, in this article you’ll get 7 tips to stop a dog from begging for food.
Let’s first look at why the behavior comes up in the first place, though.
Why won’t my dog stop begging for food?
You feed your dog, and you’ve seen him eat his food. So it’s probably weird for you when your dog just keeps on begging you for food like he’s never eaten before in his life!
Begging for food is one of those dog behaviors that may not seem super harmful at first. It might just be a little annoying, or you may even find it cute. After all, who can resist those big puppy dog eyes gazing up at you!
But begging can actually cause a lot of issues. If you have guests over, then begging behavior can be extra annoying. If anyone ever gives into your dog’s begging and gives him table scraps, then that could potentially cause some tummy issues. It also reinforces this bad behavior.
Before we get into why dogs beg for food, take a look at these other dog behavior-related articles:
- Dog Humps When Tired or Over Excited—What Can I Do?
- How to Get a Dog to Stop Pawing
- Why Do Dogs Drag Their Butts on the Floor? Scooting Explained
Eating is one of a dog’s main activities
Dogs are simple creatures with simple needs and pleasures. They’re not like us humans who are always keeping busy and looking for something complicated to do.
Rather, dogs have just a few main activities in their lives. Along with napping and playing, eating is the most constant.
Dogs are mouth-based creatures. They navigate the world through their noses and mouths. It’s why they spend so much time sniffing around.
It’s also why you may often find your dog eating things you wish he wouldn’t. For more information on this specific issue, check out How to Stop a Dog from Eating Everything on Walks and How to Stop a Dog from Eating Poop.
When your dog sees a chance for him to eat, he might jump at it. This, of course, could result in him begging at the table. But there’s more to this.
Dogs are scavengers
Many people mistakenly believe that dogs are hunting animals. While many dogs do exhibit hunting behaviors, they don’t necessarily do it for the same reasons that other hunting animals do.
Dogs actually behave more like scavenging animals. So what is a scavenger? These are animals that feed on other animals that are already dead. Rather than killing their next meal themselves, they simply feed on another animal that has already been killed.
When you eat, your dog sees an opportunity to get food. And because he’s a scavenger, those scavenging instincts start to kick in even if he’s already been fed. This could lead him to start begging for food.
They try to fill up their fat reserves whenever possible
Your dog’s ancestors grew up in the wild. And while millennia of breeding have helped your dog become the sweet little (or big) guy he is today, he still has a lot of those same old instincts.
Because your dog’s ancestors were also scavengers, they didn’t always know where their next meal was coming from. That meant that, when they found food, they had to fill up their fat reserves as much as they could.
This would keep them going until the next time they managed to find food. At this point, they would once more load up as much as they could.
Your dog knows his routine, and knows that you’re going to feed him like you do every day. But old habits die hard—especially habits that have been there for thousands of years!
7 tips to stop a dog from begging for food
If you’re looking for ways to stop your dog from begging, here are a few tips.
But first, you might be interested in thinking about the type of food that you’re feeding your dog. If you want to make sure your dog’s meal is the best it can be, here is the best dog food delivery service for fresh cooked food.
1. Don’t feed him off the table
If you want your dog to stop begging for food while you’re eating, the worst thing you could possibly do is feed him off the table.
Your dog wants the food on the table. When you give your dog food from the table when he’s begging, that teaches him two things. First, that food on the table is something he can have. Second, that begging is the way to get it.
To teach your dog good behavior, stop reinforcing the bad behavior and don’t give in to those big, adorable eyes.
2. Reward the good behavior
Positive reinforcement dog training isn’t just about ignoring bad behavior. It’s also about giving your dog another option.
Your dog should know that he has choices. And that if he makes the right choice, he’ll get rewarded for it.
If your dog has a begging issue, and he walks away from the table at any point, you should reward him. Be mindful not to reward him with any scraps from the table, mind you. Give him one of his own treats to teach him that if he makes the right choice, he’ll get something out of it.
3. Send him to his bed whenever you’re eating
If your dog is always hovering around the table while you’re eating, then sending him to another place could be helpful.
This will prevent your dog from staring up at you or your guests and begging for food. You may want to teach your dog the “place” command, which will help you send him to his bed when you’re eating.
With consistent practice, your dog will know that when dinner’s on the table, it’s time to go lie down on his bed.
4. Don’t pay any attention to begging behavior
You shouldn’t just avoid rewarding your dog with food off the table when he’s begging. You should also avoid giving him any attention whatsoever.
That’s because the food on the table isn’t the only thing your dog wants. He’s also always looking for your attention!
Acknowledging your dog, even to tell him “no,” is still a way of rewarding your dog for this unwanted behavior. If your dog starts begging, it’s best to ignore him completely until he’s stopped.
5. Give him something to chew or lick while you’re eating
One of the best ways to deal with unwanted behaviors is to give your dog something else to do. Once you’ve taught your dog the “place” command, consider giving him something to do while he’s on his bed.
Give him something that will take him a while to work on, like a bully stick or a frozen kong stuffed with treats and peanut butter. This will keep your dog occupied and stop him from trying to beg for more food while you’re at the table.
6. Provide enough mental and physical stimulation
A lot of the time, dogs simply exhibit bad behavior because they’re bored. So what do you do with a bored dog? You make sure he gets enough activity throughout the day!
Make sure that you’re giving your dog enough exercise. Remember, a tired dog is a happy dog—and a well-behaved one, too.
Make sure you also provide enough mental stimulation. For some advice, here are 10 brain games for dogs to play at home.
Mental stimulation can also be a wonderful training tool if used correctly. Check out Braintrainingfordogs to learn how to train your dog to be the best dog he can be by using mental stimulation! Or have a look at Dogpackr’s review first to see if it’s a fit for you and your dog!
7. Talk to your vet to see if he’s missing any nutrients
If you’re implementing all of the above tips and your dog is still begging for food, that could signify there’s a different problem going on.
Your dog may be begging for food because he can feel that he’s not getting the nutrients he needs. Dogs are surprisingly intuitive animals, and your dog can often tell if he’s not getting what he needs from his diet.
You may want to speak to your vet to see if there are any dietary changes that your dog needs.
Speaking of the vet: Have you ever thought about getting pet insurance for your dog? No? Then check out my article on the question “is it worth getting pet insurance for dogs?“. Or go straight to PetAssure for a cheap alternative to get 25% off each vet visit!
Common questions about your dog begging for food
How to stop a dog from barking when we’re eating
If your dog is barking when you eat, then there are a few possibilities as to why. He might be trying to get your attention, or he’s trying to get you to give him some of that tasty food.
Whatever the reason is, following the above tips will help teach him to stop. Remember, the best thing to do is ignore him completely when he’s barking.
You should also be proactive, and consider giving him something else to do before he even starts barking. Something he can chew on or lick is a great option.
How to get your dog to stop begging for attention
If your dog isn’t begging for food but is instead just begging for attention, that can be really annoying and frustrating behavior.
For more information on how to stop this behavior, make sure to check out Why Is My Dog So Needy?
Other than that, just follow the steps above. If need a little more help, check out my best tips for training your dog at home!
How to stop a dog from eating food off the table
Is your dog snatching food off your table or counter? Not only is this annoying, but it could potentially be very unsafe for your dog.
The AKC has a great guide that will help you learn how to stop this behavior.
Begging behavior may seem cute at first, especially looking into those sad eyes. But it won’t take long for it to become annoying, or potentially even dangerous for your dog.
To stop your dog from begging for food, follow the above tips and work with him to discourage the behavior. With time and patience, your dog will learn that begging isn’t the way to get what he wants.