How to Stop a Dog from Begging for Food
A lot of dogs, by nature, will beg for human food. Many of our canine buddies are highly food motivated and see us as the walking, talking grocery store.
Begging is a behaviour often learned early on in puppyhood and stems from excitement or anxiety around mealtime. But the one thing that makes the behaviour seemingly become worse is you’re reinforcing it – giving in and giving your dog food from the table.
Why you need to modify it
While it may not bother you to have your dog beg for food, it’s annoying and even embarrassing to guests. When you have company over, the last thing you want is Fido jumping up on everyone and trying to score a treat.
If your pup constantly begs for food, they’re also more likely to become overweight. You must be mindful of your dog’s diet and not let them get too many “people food” treats.
Getting rid of the behaviour
If you currently give in to your dog’s begging, it’ll take some time to retrain this behaviour. Coupled with commitment, patience, and consistency, you’ll have your dog sitting pretty in no time.
It’s hard, we know. But if you cave even once, dogs think it’s okay to keep begging because they know their persistence pays off. If you want to modify the behaviour, be strong and don’t give in – no matter how much those puppy dog eyes melt your heart.
Just think of it as a sacrifice both of you must make for the pup’s own good.
Distract your dog with a toy or chew
Dogs beg for food because they’re either excited or anxious about mealtime. If your dog is particularly food motivated, try distracting them with a toy or chew during dinner. It’ll help take the focus off the food and redirect their attention elsewhere.
It’s an effective strategy since the second most powerful motivator for dogs (after food) is usually toys.
Keep mealtimes regular
Dogs love routine and knowing when their next meal is. If you feed them at different times, they’ll beg all day long because they never know when they’ll get fed next.
It’s for this reason that you must keep mealtimes regular. Feed them at the same time each day and take away their food bowl when they’re done eating. Your dogs will eventually realize that begging won’t get them any extra food because there is none to beg for.
Note: The key here is to get the food bowl out of their sight. Dogs are smart and will know that if they can see the food bowl, it always means that mealtime is just around the corner.
Keep Fido away from the table
Keep your furry buddy in another room or crate them when you’re eating. Do this during the early stages of retraining. If they’re in the same room as you, they’ll be more likely to beg for food since they can see and smell what you’re having.
You may initially feel like you’re doing your four-legged buddy injustice, but it’s only temporary. Just remember to let them out as soon as you’re done eating, so they don’t associate being crated with hunger.
Ignore bad behaviour and praise good behaviour
If your dog is trying to beg for food, turn your back or walk away. It’ll let them know that their begging behaviour is not getting them anywhere.
On the other hand, if they’re not trying to beg and are behaving well, don’t forget to give them some praise. It’ll let them know they’re doing something right and reinforce good behaviour.
Over time, your dog learns that if they want attention or food, all they need to do is sit patiently and wait – not beg.
Be consistent with discipline
This can’t be stressed enough. If you’re not consistent with your discipline, your dog will never learn what behaviour is expected of them. Whether you’re crating them during mealtime or ignoring their bad behaviour, you must do it every time – no exceptions.
Dogs love food more than anything else. But it doesn’t mean they should beg for it all the time. You’re never doing them a favour by tolerating an otherwise preventable behaviour. With a little patience, you’ll retrain your dog and get them to stop begging for food. It’ll take some time, but it’s doable. And once you see your dog patiently waiting for their food, all the effort will be worthwhile.