No image is more stereotypical than that of a dog begging for food at the dinner table.
If you are a pet owner, this is a behaviour you have probably witnessed at one point or another.
Even if you do not own a dog, there are chances that you’ve watched such scenes in the numerous pet-themed movies out there.
This has probably led you to ask, how do I stop my dog from begging for food?
Indeed, the image of a dog begging for food is not a very motivating one. As the dog owner, you will often be torn between showing compassion to the pet and getting him to leave your sight.
In most cases, we’re often tempted to throw some morsels their way. However, that can only serve to encourage the behaviour.
Before you know it, your pooch will be sneaking up on you every time you gather at the dinner table. And that’s not a very welcome sight, especially not when you are entertaining guests.
This article shall explore some tips on how to prevent your dog from begging for food. But first things first.
Why Is My Dog Always Begging For Food?
Before you address the problem of your dog begging for food, it’s imperative that you first understand its root cause. So, why do dogs beg for food?
It’s undeniably true that most dogs will beg for food out of sheer hunger. But for some, it’s more like a habit; an ingrained habit that may eventually become very difficult to break.
Another main reason why your dog begs for food is due to intense curiosity. Like cats, dogs delight in joining in on their owners’ actions.
The same way your dog gets excited at the prospect of following you to work is the very way the dog would want to share in your meals.
Dogs have a deep connection with their human friends. It’s this connection that drives them to partake of whatever we do.
Sometimes, you’ll notice that even after throwing your dog some bites, it will not eat the food with the enthusiasm of a hungry dog. It could be that the dog finds the food distasteful. In any case, it wasn’t hungry in the first place; it merely wanted to share in your moment.
Lastly, dogs beg for food because we have encouraged behaviour. We tend to think that by offering food to our dogs when they ask for it, we’re doing them some justice.
But with time, it becomes tough for the dog to stop this habit. You will notice that even after serving the dog from its bowl, it will still abandon the bowl and instead, come begging for food from you.
How Do Dogs Beg For Food?
There are numerous ways through which dogs beg for food. The following are some of them:
1. Nudging your elbows.
2. Barking or whining.
3. Staring you down as you eat, occasionally following the movement of food from the plate to your mouth.
4. Pawing your legs.
5. Licking his lips.
6. Hanging around your kitchen as you prepare your meals.
Why Is It A Dangerous Habit?
We already mentioned how unpleasant it is to entertain a begging dog, especially if you’re having guests over.
More seriously, feeding your dog at the dinner table could expose it to possible food poisoning. Remember that dog food is not exactly similar to human food.
For instance, there are very few nutritional elements that a dog enjoys from a diet of veggies. So imagine eating greens for weeks on end, and serving the same to your dog.
It gets even worse if the foods we offer them are those marked as dangerous human foods for dogs. Before you know it, your little act of kindness could result in severe health issues for your pooch.
How to Prevent Your Dog from Begging For Food
1. Eliminate All Temptations
The best way on how to get your dog to stop begging for food is to prevent the habit from forming in the first place. And there are numerous ways to go about that.
First, ensure the dog does not come to your dinner table at all. You can do that by making sure the dog eats the same time everyone else does. That way, he will be too distracted to even think about coming to the dinner table.
You might also consider feeding the dog first. Remember, hunger is a major trigger for begging. Therefore, a full dog will have little impetus to go begging for food.
On a more extreme note, you might consider holding the dog in a confined room during mealtimes. Indoor tethers can do wonders here.
Better yet, you could keep him in his crate in your bedroom and then lock the door. Well, this is the last resort, and we hope things don’t get to this point as your pet could suffer from undue anxiety.
Secondly, certain dogs have a habit of stealing meals from our dinner tables or kitchen counters. This only escalates the habit of food begging. You can address this problem by ensuring you never leave food in those areas unsupervised.
The most important thing is to ensure everyone in the family understands these rules. Kids can be very naughty and will feed your dog at every opportunity they can find. Make them understand the long-term effects of entrenching these habits.
2. Ignore All Advances
We have already highlighted some of the telltale signs that your dog is begging for food. How about you simply play indifferent to these signs!
Pretend as though you haven’t taken any notice of your canine’s advances. That includes avoiding all eye contact. You’re not even supposed to repeat commands such as “No” or “Stop”. Unless these are commands your dog already identifies with.
Like any other pets, dogs sustain a behavior when they associate it with some response.
For example, a dog that barks incessantly will always be a nuisance if you keep responding each time it barks. Your response alone is a great motivator. The same applies to begging for food. If there’s no response, the dog will eventually grow weary.
3. Insist On Serving the Dog in the Bowl
Another practical tip on tackling the problem of your dog constantly begging for food is serving him in the bowl and nowhere else.
This should be a standard procedure that you encourage, especially among your kids. Tell your children that the same way humans eat from the plate is the very way dogs should eat from their bowls.
That means you should advise everyone to stop leaving any food on the table, on the couch, on the floor and any other place where the dog isn’t supposed to eat from.
This way, your dog will always associate its bowl with food. And this should apply to not only his regular foods, but also his treats.
4. Don’t Let Your Emotions Get the Better of You
Due to our compassionate nature, we may be tempted to grant the dog’s wishes. Indeed, dogs can put up a very pitiful face when they want to. However, do not buy into those antics.
Remember, begging for food is more of an attention-seeking habit than it’s a hunger-driven one. If you’re sure you’ve been feeding the dog regularly until he is full, then you have no business feeding him on the dinner table
5. Make the Dog Sit As You Eat
You might also consider training your dog to sit or stay put while you’re eating.
The dog should be able to stay in one position calmly until you’re done eating. Well, it may prove difficult at first. But with adequate training, you will be able to crack it.
One way to make that happen is to use a leash. If the dog won’t sit, it doesn’t harm to have him on a leash. That way, the dog will associate begging for food with restricted movement and will try to come out of the habit.