How To Stop Your Dog From Begging

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A common complaint among pet parents , heard around many dining tables, is that the dog begs during meals and in doing so creates a nuisance. Many dog owners find it challenging to break their dog of this habit, and don’t realize they may be contributing to the problem.However, if you can dedicate yourself to breaking the cycle of begging for a few weeks, the problem can usually be resolved.

How To Prevent Your Dog From Begging

  • Sometimes it’s easiest to solve a problem by preventing it from happening. If you’d rather your dog leave you alone while you eat, you can use a baby gate to confine her to another room when you sit down for a meal. Or, if your dog is crate trained, you can put her in her crate while you eat.  To keep her busy and quiet, try giving your dog a chew bone, her dinner or a toy stuffed with something delicious.
  • If you’d like your dog to stay in the same room with you but refrain from loitering right next to the table or drooling on your feet, you can use a tether to keep her in her own space. Attach a short leash or tether (four- to six-feet long) to a heavy piece of furniture or an eye-hook in the baseboard. Put a soft bed or mat next to the tether. Before sitting down to eat, lead your dog to her comfy spot, and attach the leash or tether to her collar. Then give her something to chew or a toy stuffed with treats. After you finish your meal, you can release her from the tether. As long as you give your dog a tasty treat of her own to work on while you eat, she’ll enjoy settling in her special spot during mealtimes. (A word of caution: Do not leave your dog unattended while she’s tethered. She could get tangled in the tether and injure herself.)
  •  Also tell every member of your family to quit giving your dog food from the table, food from the couch, food from the chair, food from the desk etc. He should only be eating food from his bowl.
  • The most basic and important step in the process of undoing the negative training that has led to begging is to stop feeding the dog from the table. Most people give in every once in a while and give some scraps to their begging dog, and this reinforces the undesirable behavior. Refusing to acknowledge your dog when you are eating is crucial to both preventing a begging habit and stopping an existing problem. No matter how much your dog barks, whines, or stares at you when you eat, do not feed it.
  • Dogs are relatively simple creatures. If they perform a behavior that results in a reward, they will repeat the behavior expecting a reward in the future. If a behavior does not result in a payoff, they will have no reason to repeat it. Some dogs will just sit and look at you, while others will whine at you until they get what they want. Some dogs may bark, paw you or climb up to the chair next to you. If you feed them or pet the dog when it does these things, you reward the behavior with a treat or pat on the head. A food reward is a very common payoff, but throwing a ball or giving the dog attention is also a form of positive reinforcement. 
  •  Unless you are giving the dog a command, don’t give your dog attention by talking to it, or even mentioning its name.No matter how frustrated you get, do not yell at a begging dog. Attention of any kind, even such negative attention, can reinforce the begging behavior.
  • Even making eye-contact with your dog is a form of attention, which rewards the behavior you are trying to extinguish. Even the most subtle attention can encourage the begging behavior.

Feeding your dog appropriate people-food leftovers is perfectly fine. As long as the leftovers are placed in the dog’s bowl and the bowl is placed in his usual feeding spot and he has to give you a sit before he gets anything.

The key here is to be consistent and patient. Food is of high value to a dog and if you’re trying to break behavior YOU created don’t blame the dog if it takes a while. You and your dog can break this bad habit together.

Make sure even your guests follow your rules and do not  feed the dog off their plate as “Opportunity Barks!”. For everybody loves a well behaved dog and nobody really enjoys eating their meal in front of  a drooling one!!

48 thoughts on “How To Stop Your Dog From Begging

  1. These are great tips and solutions for pet parents. Definitely agree consistency is key. My older dogs are very good about laying down while we are eating. My newest addition is still in training in this respect!

  2. Cookie does really well with “wait” request. If she’s interested in what’s on our plates, I just have to ask her to wait and she goes to lay down and waits. She knows she gets some goodies when it’s her turn.

    • So long as you are okay with your ritual of sharing a wee bit of your plate and kilo is not a finicky eater then you are sorted

  3. Great tips! Guests are often an issue for us. They always want to give the dogs food from the table or Pet them at the table. We normally don’t allow the dogs near the table. Of course, they totally stare us down from the other room, LOL!
    Love & biscuits,
    Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them

  4. Great points. We have always worked on being proactive. The dogs are crated while we eat and have never been given human food. They don’t know to beg because they’ve not been given the opportunity.

  5. All great tips! Now, if I could just get other people from falling in love with my dogs and buying into their blue-eyed stare for food! They were all trained to not beg and are not fed while we eat, but others seem to fall under their trance!

  6. Wonderful post! We are working is Little River and her begging. She is making small steps but they are steps in the right direction.

  7. Great tips! The kids are the problem here which makes Simba the king beggar lol the kids are always slippin him a piece of food or he’ll wait for them to drop something.

  8. It is so hard to restrain from giving pets human food! Those begging eyes are irresistible. You are right, though. Preventing begging is so much easier than stopping it once the behavior has started. Even cats beg for human food and that can make it difficult to eat with them in the room.

    • I agree with you Robin they make such pitiful eyes i have an African Grey parrot who will just swoop in to your plate when he wants a bite out of human food which isnt good for him but with training he has learnt to leave my plate alone

  9. I stopped even looking at my dogs while I eat, and they don’t beg anymore. They always know who to go to – family members who sneak bites will always have dogs staring at them! Dogs sure are opportunists, and will go to whoever will give them snacks. I don’t mind if my dogs are on standby while I eat, but pawing and barking are off-limits.

  10. So there’s a saying that starts with, “an ounce of prevention is worth a thousand…” I could end it with, “…times telling your dog to ‘go away’ at the dinner table.” ☺ Darn it, I tried so hard not to give them bits of people food, but they were SOOOO pitiful looking. 😉

    • Elizabeth our dogs just know how cleverly to manipulate us, as long as you stay gentle but firm it will work in your favour

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