You’ve sat down to have dinner after a long day and you’re just about to start when you see your dog staring at you, hoping to get a bite of whatever you’re having.
And every dog owner knows how hard it is to ignore those big eyes!
So, how to get your dog to stop begging for food?
We want our dogs to be happy and healthy more than anything, right? Unfortunately, with that in mind, we sometimes allow things we shouldn’t and that can lead to unwanted behavior. Giving food to our dogs while eating is one of those things. Dogs begging for food can be very annoying at times, so most dog owners are desperate for finding a solution to this problem.
In this article we’ll begin with explaining why dogs beg for food and how to stop it.
Why Do Dogs Beg For Food?
Dogs love to eat, nothing new there! However, in most cases, dogs don’t beg for food because they’re hungry. The main reason is probably because they want what you’re having and because at some point you’ve reinforced this behavior, knowingly or not.
It’s probable that you’ve encouraged your dog, at one time or another, by giving even the smallest bite from your meal. That was a clear green light for your pet, as he/she now knows that it’s possible to get some of your food. And even if you didn’t give food directly from your plate, you could still have given your dog some bites to taste while preparing a meal. This also sends out the message that you’re willing to share food with your dog.
If it happened once, why wouldn’t it happen again?
Ideally, you should never give your dog food from your plate or while cooking to begin with, at least not when begging. However, what’s done is done and you can’t go back and change that. But – you can alter this behavior and fix the “damage”.
Read on and find out how!
How To Stop Your Dog From Begging For Food
Your dog is sitting by the table, waiting for you to share some with him/her. But – that’s not happening this time! The first step is deciding that you don’t accept this kind of behavior anymore. Have you made up your mind? Now – read these tips and see how to eliminate this!
This is probably the most logical tip, but it’s also the most difficult one. You have to stop paying attention to your dog when it’s staring at you! By acknowledging him/her, you’re still showing there’s a chance for you to share some food.
Begging is an attention-seeking behavior, so you have to take away the one thing your dog is looking for – attention! Even by looking at your dog and repeating “No”, you’re giving some kind of attention. Instead, avoid all eye contact and don’t talk to your pet. We know how difficult this is, but it’s what you have to do if you want to stop the begging.
2. Only Serve Food In The Bowl
Tell every family member to stop giving the dog food anywhere else but in the food bowl. This is especially important if you have children, as they might not understand why begging is such an unwanted behavior. Explain that dogs should only eat from their food bowl, just like you eat from your plate. If you don’t eat from your dog’s food bowl, why should your dog eat from your plate?
3. Don’t Feel Sorry For Your Dog
It’s easy to think in the moment that your dog is actually hungry and that you don’t feed him/her enough. Don’t! As mentioned, this is an attention-seeking behavior, it’s not caused by hunger. Try to remember this when your dog is looking at you or putting a paw on your lap.
4. Have Your Dog Sit
You should train your dog to sit while you’re eating. If he/she refuses to stay in that position, you can restrict its movement by a leash that you hook onto something or put your dog in its crate. Hopefully, you won’t have to do this forever, as your dog will understand that begging for food can result in restricted movements, which no dog wants.
5. Be consistent
This is probably one of the most important things. It’s really easy to form a bad habit, but it’s so difficult to break one. In order to succeed, you have to be consistent and disciplined. If you break your own rules, even once, you’ll send out the message of inconsistency to your dog and he/she will know that they can get what they want.
6. Have Patience
The longer a dog has had a habit, the harder it will be to break it. So, you have to be very patient until you eliminate the unwanted behavior. Even if it seems like your dog isn’t changing at all, don’t give up! As long as you’re patient and consistent you will see the results in the end.
For more tips on how to stop the begging, check out the video below!
Sharing Food Without Creating A Beggar
If you’ve gotten the impression that you will never be able to share food with your dog, you’re wrong. In fact, it’s possible to share your meal (as long as it’s not dangerous to dogs), you just have to do it right if you don’t want to create a beggar.
It’s all about giving the food in a way that clearly shows where the food should be eaten. If you don’t want to create a beggar, you have to set up the eating rules and stick to them. Your dog should know where it should eat – it’s not the same for you and for your dog. You eat at the table, he/she eats from the bowl. Be sure that your dog is aware of that.
If you establish this rule, it will even be possible to share food while cooking. As long as your dog is aware that the only way he/she can get food from you is by sitting far away, in another room and by the food bowl. For instance, if you’re preparing dinner and your dog is looking at you, you have to teach him/her that the only way to get food is by being far away from the kitchen table.
On the contrary, if your dog comes up to the table where you’re eating, you have to ignore him/her completely and never give in. If you do that, it will be very difficult to teach your dog to eat from the bowl.
When Should You Pay Attention To Dog Begging?
In some situations, you shouldn’t ignore your dog’s begging. This is especially the case if your dog, that has never begged before, starts begging all of a sudden. Unfortunately, this can indicate a health problem.
Most common problems that lead to begging are diabetes and hyperthyroidism – conditions that can make dogs really, really hungry. Naturally, sudden begging doesn’t have to indicate anything as serious, but you should never ignore any sudden changes in behavior. Take your dog to the vet just to be on the safe side.
Tips When Eliminating The Begging
Finally, here are a couple of tips when you want to eliminate this behavior.
1. Feed your dog before you eat. By doing this, you’ll be absolutely sure that the begging isn’t caused by hunger and you will be able to ignore your dog more easily.
3. Save the scraps for later. As mentioned, there’s nothing wrong with sharing some food with your dog – as long as it’s not dangerous in any way and if you don’t serve it by the table. Save the table scraps for later and put them in your dog’s food bowl.
4. Don’t yell. This goes for all kinds of attention. Attention doesn’t only mean giving food, but yelling as well. By doing that, you’re giving in and acknowledging your dog. Instead, you have to ignore completely and make sure you don’t pay any kind of attention to your dog.
5. Don’t be inconsistent. Every family member has to be consistent and stick to the “no-food-at-the-table” rule. In order to understand what they can and can’t do, dogs need to see that you’re serious about whatever it is that you want to follow through with. It’s very important that every member of the family behaves the same way, otherwise your dog will be really quick on distinguishing the easiest person to convince in the family.
Begging for food is a very common problem many dog owners deal with. Ironically, it’s usually we, the dog owners, that create this habit by sharing food with our dogs at one point. And if we do it once, the dog knows it can happen again and will start begging for food when you’re at the table. Namely, food begging is almost never caused by hunger, but by attention seeking.
In order to stop this kind of behavior, you have to ignore your dog completely and be very consistent. It’s really easy and really difficult at the same time! While all you have to do is ignore your dog and simply don’t give food, no matter how much he/she keeps nagging, it’s really difficult to ignore our dogs. But it’s what has to be done if you want your dog to stop begging!
However, this doesn’t mean you can never share food with your dog. You simply have to do it appropriately – by serving the food in your dog’s food bowl and keeping your dog away from the table! Consistency and persistence are the key words when it comes to eliminating this behavior.