How to stop dogs begging for food

How to stop dogs begging for food
(Image credit: Getty Images)

We all want to stop our dogs begging for food. Whether it’s because your food isn’t good for your pup’s diet, it’s making guests uncomfortable or you just want to have your dinner all to yourself, it’s a habit all dog owners want their pet to get out of. Dogs beg for food because they just love to eat and get involved in whatever their owners are getting up to. 

However, it obviously isn’t ideal to have your pooch turn those puppy dog eyes on you every time you sit down for a meal or grab a snack because you’ll end up going hungry as you give into them or be forced into turning them down. The best way to combat dogs begging for food is to try to understand the reasons why they are doing it in the first place. 

A love of food could be one reason and you don’t want them to overeat so it’s important to know how much to feed your dog in the first instance, but a bid for attention and simply hunger could also be contributing factors. Your dog could dislike the chow that it’s been given, so you might want to look at changing the brand you buy if you notice their bowl isn’t empty to find the best quality dog food that suits their nutritional needs. 

Once you’ve understood the why, you can move onto how you can stop it from happening. Here are some top tips to show you how to end your dog’s habit of begging for the last scrap of food on your plate.

Why is my dog constantly begging for food? 

There’s a number of reasons why your dog may beg for food. They could be hungry or perhaps they’re not enjoying the food they’ve been offered and are after a tastier treat. But, if your pooch has been well fed, there are three main reasons they’ll beg for food:

Evolutionary instinct

Before dogs were pets they had to find their own food and survive without the help of humans so they would feed in large quantities in case food became scarce. For this reason, when food is available, dogs tend to seek it out. Similarly, if they’ve come from a home where they were abused and malnourished they will gobble up food whenever the opportunity presents itself. 

Lack of consistency in training 

The second reason for begging is that your dog knows that if it begs, it will be fed. Humans are at fault for giving in to puppy dog eyes and begging. However, it’s important not to overfeed your pet as this could lead to obesity so the key is good training and not giving in to begging.

Medical issue

If you don’t give into begging, are consistent with your feeding and your dog is still pleading for food, this could be a health problem so do check in with your vet. Diabetes, tumours and stomach problems could all lead to insatiable appetites. 

stop dog begging for food

(Image credit: Getty Images)

How much should I feed my dog? 

If your dog is begging you may want to make sure you’re feeding them enough so that you know they’re begging for extra treats and not because they’re still hungry. If find yourself asking how much should I feed my dog? there are a few things you need to check. 

How much you feed your dog will not only depend on their metabolism, but on the type of food you’re buying them. You not only need to calculate their calorie intake, but check the labels on their food and then monitor your dog’s behavior and adjust their food as necessary to make sure they’re not hungry, but have enough energy and are getting enough exercise to burn off extra calories.

Should you ignore a dog begging for food?  

Yes, you should ignore a dog begging for food to teach them that begging doesn’t get them any attention. However, you can also train them not to beg so if they continue you can use words such as ‘sit’ to make them stop. 

As well as ignoring them and avoiding eye contact when they beg, redirect their attention so they’re otherwise occupied. Get them to play a puzzle toy instead, for example.  

dog with food dish in mouth

(Image credit: Getty Images)

How to stop your dog begging for food  

So, how can you stop your pet begging? These are a few things to try: 

1. Don’t feed your dog from the table 

Often dogs will sit beneath the dining room table waiting to be fed scraps of food. While this may make you a favorite with them, it’s not a good idea as they’ll associate sitting under the table with being fed and they’ll continue to beg. Either stop feeding them scraps or make sure they’re not in the dining room for meals.  

2. Feed them while you’re eating so they’re distracted 

If you find it difficult to keep your dog away when you’re eating, try feeding them at the same time as you and your family so that they are busy eating themselves and won’t think about begging. It’s also a good idea not to leave food out in the kitchen that they may be tempted to jump up and grab. 

3. Train them not to beg 

If your dog begs, it’s probably because you usually feed them when they do. Train them not to beg using words such as ‘sit’, ‘down’, ‘drop it’ and ‘leave it’ so they learn not to do it. 

Then make sure you’re consistent with your training and you don’t give in to begging with treats. Try not making eye contact and ignoring them when they do beg until the behaviour stops. This way they will learn that if they beg it doesn’t lead to food. 

4. Reward them when they haven’t begged for food 

By using positive reinforcement you’ll teach your dog that they won’t get fed when they beg but they will get fed if they’re well behaved. This way you can get rid of the bad habit. 

5. Change their diet 

It’s important to make sure your dog is happy and healthy with regular visits to the vet and ensuring the dog food you’re giving them is full of nutrients. If they’re not enjoying their food they may seek more scraps so check you’ve got the best dog food for them and that they’re happy when feeding.  

6. Keep them stimulated 

While exercise and toys may not stop your pooch from getting hungry, it will help keep them stimulated so they have less time to think about extra treats. Make sure your dog is getting enough walks and interactive play to keep them healthy and give them lots of toys to keep them occupied. 

7. Don’t punish them 

The most important rule when it comes to your dog begging is not to punish them. Shouting at your dog won’t help. In fact, it might make it worse as they may think they get more attention if they beg. Instead, ignore them so they learn they won’t get anywhere by pleading. 

How do I stop my dog from eating everything on the ground?  

At home you have more control of what your dog eats by feeding them and not leaving food out, but when you’re out on walks your pet may try to eat anything and everything off the ground. 

Using training words such as ‘sit’, ‘leave’ and ‘drop’ you can stop them doing so. Train them by holding treats and teaching them that they only get the treat if they sit and not if they beg. Similarly, train them that if they leave the food on the ground or drop it when they pick it up, they will get an even better treat.  

Zara Gaspar
Zara is Editor on bookazines and covers a range of topics from cookery to travel and animals. Her latest first edition, What Your Dog Wants You To Know, is the ultimate guide to understanding your dog’s body language.  Former editor of World of Animals magazine, she has over 8 years of experience in publishing inspiring children and adults about the wonders of the animal kingdom as well as teaching them about their pets. She also has over 5 years experience working with vets, wildlife experts and animal behaviourists in her comms roles for various animal charities.  A keen animal lover, Zara can often be found researching her next wildlife destination to travel to. Having just moved into a bigger house she is currently looking at which dog and cats breed would suit her new family so she can fill her house with pets.