Expert Training Advice
Kilo the Pug is a relentless table beggar. I know this is a common issue in many households, especially around holiday season at big dinners with family and friends. This issue can usually be reversed with proper training techniques for humans and dogs. It doesn’t bother me as he and I share a love of food, but it really bothers my husband and certain dinner guests so I need to stop my dog from begging.
The truth is, I taught my dog to beg and I consistently reinforce this unwanted behavior by continuing to feed Kilo in a variety of places when he asks. I need to change my behavior in order to change his.
Dog Training Tips
Gillian Ridgeway from Who’s Walking Who suggests that “attention seeking efforts” we find cute as puppies, may turn into habits that we later find annoying and unacceptable. It’s best to combat these issues as soon as they occur with positive reinforcement training techniques.
Read Gillian Ridgeway’s: How To Stop Attention Seeking Habits
Communicating With Your Dog
Victoria Stilwell suggests focusing on communicating patiently and effectively how you want your dog to behave. This is best done by tapping into their natural instincts and giving them incentives so they will want to do what you want. Through good training practices, you will build your bond with your best friend and be able to solve their common behavioral issues like begging.
Watch our interview with Victoria Stilwell: Train Your Dog Positively
Focus and the Power of Marker Words
Trainer Renee DeVilliers of All About Dogs who was featured in our documentary series suggests using a strong marker word (or some people use a clicker), rewarding for good behaviors and ignoring the undesired behaviors.
Read More Tip by Renee DeVilliers: How To Teach Dogs Focus and Self Control
5 Steps To Stop Your Dog From Begging
- PREVENT the behavior by NEVER feeding your dogs from anywhere but their food bowl or puzzles or during training. Discuss your dog’s diet with your vet and make sure they are getting the right amount of the right food at the right times (many human foods you might be tempted to share like me are not good for them). Kilo always seems to be starving and equates food with love but I have encouraged this and need to stop.
- IGNORE the behavior, don’t reward your dog in any way for begging. This means no touching or attention.
- BLOCK the behavior, stand up and block him with your body. Use a marker word such as ‘back’ while giving him a clear physical hand signal. Don’t yell or physically move your dog. A body block is how dogs naturally control space from other dogs, so this body language cue sends a clear message.
- REMOVE your dog from the table area and tell him to ‘stay’. Your dog can remain in sight on a chosen spot like a mat or a dog bed or couch, or you can remove him to another room or his crate, removing the temptation and setting him up for success by not allowing him to practice begging behavior. I will sometimes give Kilo a Bullwrinkle Bully Stick to chew on or a stuffed frozen Kong to eat to distract him in another spot and make it more appealing to stay there calmly.
- REPEAT each time your dog attempts to move. Repeating the process in exactly the same manner each time your dog begins to beg or approach the table until he understands that he can no longer approach. Be patient and reward your dog when he ‘stays’ or ‘sits’ and waits for you to finish.
Why Dogs Whine
Whining is often associated with begging as an attention seeking habit. Stilwell writes in her book, The Secret Language Of Dogs, that dogs whine for a variety of reasons such as hunger, thirst, pain, boredom or loneliness. It’s a normal vocalization, but it doesn’t always mean they are starving. Once you begin to react to their whining or begging by giving them food, your dog will continue to do it thinking it’s a reward and gets them what they want.
Christy Caplan says
The blocking behavior is a really good technique and I try and use that with naughty Sherm when he wants to counter surf!
I could use to apply some of these tips to my kitties! My cats are as big of table food beggars as any dog. They are sneaky too!
My husband taught our cats to beg. It drives me nuts. They don’t come over to me during meal times because they know I’m no sucker. But they stick to him like glue and get very fresh.
Hindy Pearson says
Excellent tips!! Jack never begs food from me because he knows I have an iron will, and never give in. My husband, however, is wrapped around his paw and he does bark for food when he catches hubby alone. He never gives him any thankfully, but he’s a persistent little bugger. I never allow begging at the table, but I’m okay with Jack sitting quietly underneath it. On the rare occasion when he does bark I block him from coming near the table and “move him” onto his bed. I never allow anyone to give my dogs food from the table.
Ruth Epstein says
I am so fortunate that Layla does not do that and the only time she will try is when we are with other dogs at a dinner somewhere and then she copies them LOL – it does not work as I do not believe in feeding from the table
Dear Mishu says
I like that – whining is a normal vocalization. It just means “I want” but you don’t always need to give them what they want.
Molly Mednikow says
I agree with the advice above to ignore the behavior. When my dog starts to whine I will turn my shoulders and face away from her. Eventually it worked!
Dear Mishu says
I like that – whining is a normal vocalization. it means ” I want” — but you don’t need to give dogs what they want every time!
Pawesome Cats says
The same behavioural tips apply to cats when it comes to begging for food ~ we often put the cats in another room when we eat.
Kitty Cat Chronicles says
Thankfully our dog doesn’t beg, but that’s because she has never been fed scraps from the dinner table. Our cats, on the other hand…. they are terrible beggars, even though they were never fed from the table either. We gave up trying to train them and just shut them in our bedroom at meal times. lol.
Great tips! We only give our dogs treats in one area of the house, which is away from the table and the kitchen. This has really helped the dogs learn not to beg at the table while we eat, because they know they won’t get anything there anyway.
Jana Rade says
Dogs do what works. If begging produces a treat sooner or later, they will beg. If it doesn’t EVER produce any useful result, they will stop doing it.
Tenacious Little Terrier says
Mr. N will go sleep in the other room while we eat dinner. He thinks strangers are fair game though!
Joely Smith says
Our Lyla is a bit of a beggar. I gave up trying to stop this bad habit since I knew I could not change MINE and replaced the table food to frozen carrots. HER favorite treat. So instead of unhealthy for dogs human food at least I am caving in with a healthier alternative. I know this does NOT solve the problem. If she were younger I would retrain her but sadly she is getting up there and I do not have the heart to retrain now or say no to her. If we ever get another pup – after dear Lyla is gone which I do not even want to think about – I will train him or her right the first time around.
You DO have excellent tips though and I WILL use them in the future.
The Daily Pip says
Our first dog, Pip, was the absolute worst with begging. Completely my fault as I just couldn’t resist his cuteness. I have tried to do better with Ruby. She doesn’t beg at the dinner table, but she does try to eat the cat food when I am not looking. We are working on it! I am going to try your blocking technique.
Cathy Armato says
I never let my dogs sit near the table when we’re eating. Phoebe is a little stinker & sometimes tries to skulk her way over LOL!!
It’s a constant reinforcement thing. Great tips!
Love & biscuits,
Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them
Dash Kitten Crew says
Our cats don’t beg at the table, although the late, much-loved Sooty would ‘die for the Queen’ then ruin the whole effect by sneaking a look out of half opened eye!
Beth Patterson says
My dogs don’t beg, but they situate themselves near me during dinner, so if I drop a piece of food, one of them claims it faster than I can pick it up. It doesn’t bother me at all, less sweeping makes my life easier. However, as short as Theo is, he still manages to knock things off the counter. I joke that his goal in life is to teach me to be neater and put stuff away faster.
Talent Hounds says
So true LOL. I have to tidy stuff off counters and tables as Kilo can jump like a kangaroo. He does help clean up too
Lola The Rescued Cat says
Doggie sad eyes are hard to resist, but it’s best for them. We know some dog owners who can use this info.
Bryn Nowell says
Such an important post! We have friends with a Rhodesian Ridgeback who not only begs, but takes to grabbing stuff from the table and self serving if she doesn’t get what she wants! We have always rewarded our dogs for spending time in their crates while we eat, but giving a kong toy filled with tasty things. They don’t know what they’re missing because they’re enjoying themselves with other stuff instead.
Talent Hounds says
Such a good plan. I wish I had not given in when we first fostered Kilo. He will sneak and grab too I am embarrassed to say if you leave stuff out. Although it seems he gradually gets more confident and less desperate about food and often snoozes on the couch while we eat lately or chews on something.
Sweet Purrfections says
My mom’s dog has trained her well. She still feeds him human food because he is so cute when he begs.
Thanks a bunch for your very helpful tips. I always looking for a solution for Begging behavior of my dog. I would try your tips for sure. Hope it will work. Thanks for great share.