We all know the scene. You sit down at the dinner table, ready to serve, and notice your four-legged friend sitting next to you, head tilting to one side. How can you possibly resist those big puppy dog eyes? Of course, you want to fling them a bit of chicken from your casserole. But why do dogs beg for food all the time? Are they really hungry or is it a sign of something else?
Why do dogs always beg for food?
For our pups, begging is actually pretty instinctual and goes back thousands of years. At one point, dogs descended from wolves and scavenging was part of daily life. They’d eat as much as they could before moving on to the next place and finding food there. Eventually, they were domesticated and were rewarded for hunting/protecting with scraps of food.
And whilst Lucky may originally be a descendant of wolves and even look pretty wolfish in appearance, he’s definitely not roaming the arctic landscape looking for prey anymore – which is why we need to monitor this behavior. You don’t want to let your pup eat as much as they would like as this could lead to obesity and many health issues, which you of course want to avoid.
Having said that, dogs are incredibly intelligent creatures and like to think they have you wrapped around their little paw (which in some cases, may well be true). They’ve learned that begging and looking all cute gets them rewards, so of course, they’re going to keep doing it as much as they can.
But what about when you’ve just given them their food, they’ve gobbled it all up and then come over to the table asking for more? Really, why do dogs beg for human food when they’ve just wolfed down their own delicious meal? It’s likely that your pup just likes eating, in the same way many humans do, and it’s kind of a comfort for them.
But how can you tell if your dog is really hungry?
Of course, as dog owners, we don’t want to let our pets go hungry. But neither do we want to overfeed them. So how can we tell when they’re really hungry and when they’re just begging for a bit of our food? Well, we can’t. Not really. Your best bet is to follow the guidelines on the back of their dog food or to ask your vet. You’ll need to take into consideration how active your pup is when feeding them too.
Another reason why your dog may constantly be begging for food is that they’re actually really hungry. If you’re feeding your pup the normal amount of food and you notice that they’re losing weight, take them for a check-up just to be sure.
How can you stop your dog from begging for food?
If you think your dog has a begging problem, you’ll want to change this unwanted behavior. Luckily, with a bit of training and persistence, you should be able to prepare and eat your meals in peace.
- Reward them. Every pet owner knows that a crucial part of any training is rewarding your dog for good behavior and positive reinforcement. However, don’t reward your pup with food or treats. Give them chew toys, verbal praise, attention, or an extra game of fetch instead. This will stop them from associating good behavior with food.
- Completely ignore them. Trust us. This is easier said than done. Every time your dog begs for food, turn the other way and don’t engage with them (and whatever you do, don’t make eye contact because then you’ll lose)! If you have a really persistent begging dog it might be quite difficult but carry on. Remember you feed them enough food and they’re not actually starving.
- Put them in a separate room. By removing your pup from the dining area and giving them their own cozy spot to be in during meal times, you’re physically preventing the problem from arising. Choose their bed or a favorite room and praise them when they stay there. If they’re not in the dining room they can’t ask for table scraps (although to begin with, there may be some whining from the other room to deal with).
- Distract them. Puzzle toys are a great way to keep your dog entertained whilst you eat. You can even get ones that slowly dispense food or a treat as they complete them – which is great for mealtimes and should get them to stop begging.
A begging dog can be really annoying, especially when they’re always under your feet and you just want to eat your meal in peace! It will take time, lots of positive reinforcement, and determination from you but it is possible to stop your dog begging!
Have you had a dog that loved to beg? How did you get them to change their behavior? Any other tips? Leave us a comment!
I’m Charlotte, a content and copywriter from the North of England and currently living in Berlin. Animals have always been a huge part of my life, so writing about dogs is a total pleasure! I love all kinds of dogs and their cheeky personalities, but I’d have to say Weimaraners are my favourite!