How to Stop a Dog from Begging for Food | Pupford

March 27th, 2023

Filed under Training

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Dogs are food motivated by nature. While this is great for training because you know treats will work as positive reinforcers (if your dog isn’t food motivated, check this out), it can also have its challenges.

Sometimes high food drive causes bad manners, like your dog begging for food.

If this is your dog every time you eat, you’re not alone.

Begging is a common issue that so many pup parents in our community are asking for help with. So today we’re going to help!

We’ll cover everything you need to know about resisting even the strongest puppy dog eyes and teaching your dog not to beg for your food. You’ll have a perfect little lady or gentleman with great table manners before you know it!

WHY DO DOGS BEG FOR FOOD?

You know they’re not starving like they’re pretending to be – they just had their dinner! So why are they trying to get yours?

There are a couple of explanations for why dogs beg for food. ⤵️

🐶 Need extra help with training and manners? Sign up for the 100% free online class, 30 Day Perfect Pup. Sign up for free here! 🐶

1. IT’S INSTINCTIVE

Although it seems like it, your dog is not being rude by begging. Maybe annoying, but not rude.

Dogs are hardwired to scavenge. Even though they’ve come a long way from the days of living in the wild and eating whenever they could find food, it’s still in their nature to seek out food.

We promise your dog isn’t trying to manipulate you. Unless…

2. IT’S REINFORCED

stop accidentally reinforcing your dogs begging

Dogs have fantastic memories when it comes to tactics that resulted in them getting food. That’s why treats work so well with positive reinforcement training.

It’s also why if you give in to your dog’s begging one time, they’re likely to keep up the behavior. But who can resist those big eyes?!

Just one time is enough to make a permanent association – if only it were that easy when it comes to training other behaviors!

3. THEY’RE OUR BABIES!

Our dogs are an important part of our families. It’s hard not to treat them that way all the time, mealtime being no exception.

Sometimes we feel inclined to share a special meal with them or give them our leftovers to avoid waste. After all, why should they have to have only dog food all the time?

That line of thinking, though, can have your dog thinking that every meal comes with the possibility of sharing, which could make them beg.

While begging is common and in a way natural, it doesn’t mean that it should be acceptable. Not only can it be pretty annoying, but it’s also not always a good idea to let your dog eat food from your plate. It can contribute to obesity which is a common problem among household dogs. Also, it puts your dog at increased risk of eating food that’s dangerous or toxic to them.

HOW TO STOP YOUR DOG FROM BEGGING FOR FOOD

ways to get your dog to stop begging for food

So how can you improve your dog’s mealtime manners and put an end to your puppy begging for food?

That is, after all, what you’re here for today – so let’s get right into it.

🐶 Need extra help with training and manners? Sign up for the 100% free online class, 30 Day Perfect Pup. Sign up for free here! 🐶

1. TEACH YOUR DOG THE “PLACE” CUE

The “place” cue has so many great uses in everyday life, including curbing begging behavior.

Encourage your dog to go to a designated bed, mat, or area during mealtimes to keep them away from the table and prevent begging.

If your dog doesn’t know their “place” yet, take a step back and get them to master the skill before tackling it at mealtime, when temptations and distractions are high. Here’s everything you need to know about how to teach your dog “place.

2. USE A CRATE OR GATED AREA

As an alternative to “place,” or while you’re still teaching your dog that skill, you can use a crate or a gated area to keep your meal out of sight from your dog.

But remember, we want our dogs to have a positive association with their crates and closed-off areas, so it’s important not to treat this like a punishment. If you notice your dog getting stressed or anxious when in their crate during your mealtime, make sure you set them up for success.

How do you do that? We have everything you need to know about crate training your dog and how to help them love their crate in our Crate Training Course.

3. REDIRECT YOUR DOG’S ATTENTION

To get your dog’s attention off your meal, you can give them something of their own to focus on.

The trick here is getting your dog to focus on something that’s more enticing to them than your food. Usually, something that involves treats, chewing, or nose work does the trick. Some of our favorites include:

Shop our favorite enrichment products.

Not only will your dog be stimulated and satisfied without begging for your food, they’ll begin to form a positive association with having independent time while you eat.

why dogs beg for food

4. STAY STRONG AND IGNORE THE BEGGING

This is the hardest part. If you want the behavior to change, you have to stop reinforcing it – no exceptions. That means completely ignoring the begging, no matter how persistent your dog is.

We promise they are not actually hungry (if they’re being fed an appropriate amount for their size and breed) and they won’t be mad at you for not giving them table food.

Plus, if you give them a chew or enrichment activity like we mentioned before, ignoring the begging will be easy because they’ll be happy and occupied – and likely getting a snack!

Stay strong!

5. MAKE SURE EVERYONE KNOWS THE RULES

You could work so hard for weeks and weeks to stop begging, only for the progress to be undone in one mealtime.

If you have certain family members or houseguests who say “one time won’t hurt,” or “but I want your dog to like me,” it can seriously hinder progress.

Make sure everyone who comes into your home knows not to give your dog their food or reinforce their begging.

If they want to have a special bond with your dog, invite them to play a game before mealtime or give them their enrichment toy – away from the dinner table.

RECAP OF HOW TO STOP YOUR DOG FROM BEGGING FOR FOOD

Remember, these types of behavioral changes don’t happen overnight. Be consistent and patient throughout the process.

One of the single most important ways to stop your dog from begging is to NEVER give them food from your plate or table. Every time you give your puppy food when they beg, you increase the likelihood they'll do it again in the future!

There are plenty of ways to show your dog love during your mealtime that don’t involve sharing your food. Shop our treats, chews, and toys that you can spoil your dog with so you’re not tempted to give in to those big puppy dog eyes!

🐶 Need extra help with training and manners? Sign up for the 100% free online class, 30 Day Perfect Pup. Sign up for free here! 🐶

Extra Reading: Learn how many times a day a puppy should eat!

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