How To Stop Your Dog From Begging

doe eyes

If you have a dog that likes to beg for food, then you’re not alone.

This is a very common problem, but it’s also possible to transform the behavior by 100%, (and in a relatively short time frame, too).

But you do need to be persistent and not give in to your dogs begging tactics no matter how doe-eyed they look.

In this guide, we’re going to explain how this behavior usually starts, and what you can do to put a stop to it permanently – so let’s get started.

It Isn’t A Natural Instinct

One of the most interesting things about the “begging” behavior is that it isn’t a natural instinct.

Rather, it’s something that dog owners accidentally teach their dogs – and before you know it, your dog persistently begs for food.

How It Starts

It usually starts in a subtle way, when you or a family member shares some food from their plate with your ever-so-delighted dog. Or it can be even more subtle – such as letting your dog finish leftovers from your own plate, or simply letting your dog lick the plate clean after you’ve eaten.

This begins the cycle of your dog learning that your food is also their food – and from your own plate, no less.

Before long, they will be eagerly anticipating your dinner time as well as their own, and they’ll learn how to beg when you haven’t given them any scraps yet.

Be Strong

Although it can be irritating to have a dog who whines or begs for food – it’s vitally important to ignore the begging. If you give in early, just to make the problem go away, then you’ll pay for it later – because your dog will learn that enough persistence gives them what they want.

This means you need to ignore the begging entirely – no talking, no touching, and no form of acknowledgment at all. This can be hard, but it’s the only way they’ll learn. Whoever is more stubborn will win this game!

Keep in mind that if your dog is well-fed, there’s no chance that they’re going to starve – especially not in the 30 minutes it takes you to eat your own meal. So no matter the tricks your dog tries, you can’t give in, unless you want to problem to continue (or even get worse, which is usually the case).

Feed Your Dog At The Same Time

A useful way to distract your dog from begging when you’re eating is to simply feed them at the same time. Of course, this doesn’t mean to share your own food – but rather, give them their own meal, in their own food bowl.

This should keep them occupied, but if it doesn’t, make sure the food bowl is in a different room entirely, so your own meal can no longer serve as a tempting distraction.

You could also try feeding them before you eat – especially if you have the kind of dog who only begs when he’s hungry. If they’re full on their own meal, they should be better behaved.

But of course, some dogs may still be inclined to beg, even after they’ve been fed (especially if they’ve learned that it leads to more food!)

Negative Reinforcement

There’s no need to yell at your dog or punish them for begging – but a firm command to “lie down” or “leave it” should help to teach them that the begging behavior is unacceptable and won’t lead to the positive result they desire.

However, it’s important not to “yell” or get too over-animated when you do this, because your dog may learn to enjoy the attention, making the problem more likely to occur in the future.

Involve The Entire Family

If you’re going to overcome begging behavior, then you’ll need your family on your side. If someone is still sneakily feeding the dog on the side, then your dog will simply learn to beg this person instead.

While it can fun to play the ‘robin hood’ character and feed the dog when nobody notices, your family needs to realize that this is counter-productive overall, and it isn’t good for your dog, either – because they will receive mixed messages.

Being consistent is very important, and any slip up can undo the hard work you’ve already put into training your dog, so it’s vital to make sure everyone is on the same page in this regard.

Reward Good Behavior

Teaching your dog to no longer beg doesn’t mean you can’t give them the occasional left over as a treat. But it’s important to do it in the right way, on your terms.

A good way to reward good behavior is to give them a leftover treat after you’ve finished your meal, and always make sure you have put it in their bowl first – so they learn that their own food is to be eaten from their own bowl, and if the food is on your plate, the food is still yours.