It starts with sad puppy eyes and a guilt-inducing whimper.
You’ve got that few leftover meat on your plate and your dog looks so adorable and pathetic that you just can’t help but share one with him.
Or maybe doing a movie marathon, you’re getting at the bottom of that bag of Cheetos and you see nothing wrong tossing him a crumb or two.
Although giving your furry buddy an occasional “people food” is fine from a dog’s nutrition standpoint, the behavioral side that might come with sharing your food with your Fido can become a nuisance.
Once your pooch understands that what’s left on your plate can be his with enough sad eyes and requests, you might find yourself in an endless mealtime whining.
And a dog who begs for food or even demands it through loud barking — is not fun to be around.
The good news is that this begging habit can be broken. You can convince your hungry Fido to stand down during meal times and help you bring back peace in eating your favorite dishes without the constant “pawing” and whining on your side.
7 Easy Steps to Stop Your Dog from Begging For Food
1. DO NOT Reward The Behavior
Dogs are simple creatures.
If they perform a certain behavior which results in a reward, then they will certainly repeat that behavior expecting for a reward.
Some dogs will just sit beside you and look at you. Others may start to whine until they get what they want. Now, if he does not get what he wants, he may start to bark, paw or even climb up on the chair to get closer to you and make its point.
Now, if you give him attention, pet him or even give him what he wants when doing these things, you’re rewarding his behavior. For some dogs, only one or two rewards are needed to train him to beg.
However, if a behavior doesn’t result in a reward, then they will have no reason to repeat it. So start by preventing the very behavior.
2. Distract Him
You can save a special toy, a rawhide or a stuffed Kong toy, to offer your dog during your mealtime. This should keep him occupied with something that he loves and gives the opportunity to enjoy your meal in peace.
Or you can also feed your pooch at the same time you’re having your meal. Place his food down for the duration of your meal. If he comes at you and begs instead of eating his meal, ignores him. Then, when you’re done eating, pick up his food bowl whether it has been eaten or not. This way, your Fido will quickly learn that he needs to eat his own food at mealtimes if he does not want to go hungry.
3. Move Him To Another Place
If you want your dog to leave you alone while you eat, you can use a baby gate in order to confine him to another room while you finish your meal. If he is crate trained, then you can put him in his crate while you eat.
If you would like your dog to stay in the same room but refrain from loitering right next to you or drooling on your slippers, then you can use a tether to keep him in his own space. Attach a short tether or leash to a heavy piece of furniture.
Now, in order to keep him quiet and busy, you can place his favorite chew toy or his meal. After eating your meal, you can release him.
4. Teach the “Stay” Command
Confining your dog during mealtime may be a reasonable solution. However, it is not as effective in the long run as teaching your pooch to control his own behavior.
One of the best ways to do this is to teach him the “stay” command, which can also be effective in other situations when you need to control his behavior like barking and jumping on visitors.
Tell him firmly to “stay” in a certain spot. Reward him for doing the command, but never punish him for not following you. Gradually, he will start to understand what you want him to do, including staying on his bed or other places while you and your family or friends are eating.
5. NEVER Yell Or Punish Him
If you ever feel the need to raising your voice, speaking to him in an aggressive manner or even picking up your slipper and threatening to hit him in order to gain his compliance, then he is not the one with a problem— YOU ARE!
Well, dogs can only understand what you, as his leader if you patiently make it clear for them.
Yelling or punishing him will not make the behavior go away, but it makes achieving it less likely since all you are really doing is confusing him and making him upset, scared— or worse— aggressive.
In order to help him understand what you are asking him to do, be firm, calm, patient, even-tempered and consistent. Eventually, he will get it.
Managing the begging behavior is probably one of the toughest things for dog owners. We know how much you love your pooch and when confronted with that pair of pleading, sad eyes, it can be quite hard not to feel guilty and give in, once in a while.
Unfortunately though, giving in even once and tossing him a little nibble, will make it much harder to put an end to his behavior.
Remember that consistency is crucial with any dog training. A “no” firmly means “no” and you will need to follow through your dog’s training and not give in to your Fido’s wishes.
7. Get Everyone Involved
Regardless of how much you train him not to beg during mealtimes, if your family or friends reward his behavior, then you won’t see results.
If even one person in your household gives in to your Fido’s wants and feeds him from under the table, then your effort will be compromised. Your dog will quickly learn which people will give him food.
So make sure that everyone in your household to follow the same ground rules as you are. If not, your pooch will not learn to stop begging.