When Your Dog’s Begging Is a Problem

February 22, 2017
Dogs Begging
You may or may not know exactly when it happened, but at some point in time, you or some member of your family introduced your puppy to human food.

It may have involved sharing a snack with this irresistibly cute new member of the family, slipping an unwanted vegetable off the plate and under the table, letting the dog lick out a cup or clean off a plate, or offering a human food treat as a reward for good behavior.

However it happened, your puppy was introduced to your food supply, and now craves it as much or more than you do. Begging is not a normal, instinctual behavior for dogs. In the wild, the alpha leader of the pack always eats first, followed by those in an accepted hierarchy. It’s just that simple, and everyone goes by the rules of nature.

However, when your puppy discovered that a soulful stare or whimper could elicit a food response from you and others, it fully accepted begging as a new, worthwhile behavior.

If the staring and whimpering do not seem to be working fast enough, your dog may resort to stronger, more annoying tactics such as whining, barking and pawing at you. Drooling is an involuntary response that often accompanies begging. Mealtimes can become chaotic as ordinarily well-mannered pets circle the table crying for food or quietly sit and stare into your very soul for just one tiny morsel, just one.

Unfortunately, we frail human beings tend to be inconsistent, and we vacillate between scolding the dog and then feeling guilty and offering something from our plate.

The message to the dog: Hang in there long enough, and you will eventually wear them down and get some of their food – they’ll actually reward you for your begging behavior. This is definitely not the message you want to send to your four-legged friend!

Why Begging Is Bad

  • Dogs that insist on being present during meals can be disruptive.
  • Guests and visitors may be extremely uncomfortable when your dog tries to beg from them.
  • Food and drinks can get spilled or knocked over, especially when served in the living room, family room or den.
  • Who wants to unknowingly eat or drink after the family pet has been stealing from your plate or cup?
  • Human food is not the normal healthy diet for a dog’s digestive system. Some foods, such as chocolate and raisins, can actually be poisonous to a dog.
  • Dogs that are constantly offered human treats and leftovers tend to become overweight and suffer from obesity-related problems because their food portions are no longer being controlled. 

How To Convince Your Dog To Stop Begging

  • Rule # 1 – Don’t let this bad behavior get started in the first place. Resist the temptation to reward your dog with human food treats.
  • Rule # 2 – If it’s too late for Rule # 1, decide as a family that your beloved dog will never again taste human food, and stick to this religiously.
  • Rule # 3 – Ignore all forms of begging presented by your pet. Don’t even address them in a corrective tone. Your dog will consider any attention as approval to continue.
  • Rule # 4 – If at all possible, feed your dog at the same time as you eat and in another, separate room. If you can’t feed elsewhere, consider crating and ignoring your dog until the meal is over. You can also try giving the dog its favorite toys during times when you are eating or snacking.
  • Rule # 5 – Teach your dog that it is not allowed to get uncomfortably close to the table or to people who may be eating elsewhere in the house or yard.
  • Rule # 6 – Be patient and consistent. This is not an easy habit to break because your dog knows that food is the reward for begging. However, if you can be more strong-willed than your pet, you can eventually convince your pet that this behavior is no longer welcome.

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