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How Do I Get My Dog To Stop Begging For Food?

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One of the biggest complaints I get from my clients is that their dog begs or counter-surfs while they eat dinner or cook.

Most dogs are highly motivated by food and search for anything good to eat. People are taken in by those sweet eyes and give their dogs human food. 

This is not the root of the problem nor is the answer just to never give our dogs a taste of what we may be eating.

I am going to give you some simple tips for teaching your dog manners at mealtime.

So, when someone asks how do I get my dog to stop begging for food at the table?

My simple answer is try teaching your puppy the command “place”.

Once your pup knows place you can teach her to wait quietly in her “place” while you eat or prepare dinner.

Now the question is how do I teach my puppy “place”? And how do I teach my puppy to stay in her “place” while I’m cooking or eating dinner?

Not to worry! We put together a step-by-step guide on teaching “place” to stop your puppy from begging for food.

How Do I Get My Dog To Stop Begging For Food?

Puppy Begging - puppy feet on chair begging for food at dinner table

Tools and supplies you will need:

To train our dogs we will need a training treat. I like to find treats that are just as good as something they might find in the kitchen and are small in size so you can give multiple treats out.

Some ideas would be small bits of cheese, chicken or bacon.

QUICK TRAINER TIP: If you are looking for a good training treat I like Cloud Star Tricky Trainers Dog Treats.

These treats come in small bits and multiple flavors depending on what your dog likes.

I categorize treats based on the value. A high value treat would be something special and particularly yummy. A low value treat would be something more like plain chicken or a piece of kibble.

Here are more example:

Other tools you will need are a leash and collar and a comfortable bed or blanket for your dog to lay on. Any basic leash and collar and leash will do.

QUICK TRAINER TIP: My friend Colby recommends the Multifunctional Service Dog Leash which he likes to use with his service dogs. I recommend a Martingale Training collar when doing any training with your dog.

The benefits of teaching your a “Place” in your home:

There are many great reasons to teach your dog to go to a “place” that is theirs within the house.

Here, I am talking about using it to stop a dog from begging for food but I have also used it for helping to stop dogs charging at the door. 

My client Holly uses it to keep her dog back from the door when someone comes to visit and stops the dog from getting too excited and jumping on her guests.

Training a “Place” – Step-By-Step:

The first step is to get a comfortable bed or blanket and place it in a position that is close to the kitchen or dining room where you will be cooking or eating but safely out of the way.

It is also good to make sure when teaching your dog to not “ask” for food, that they are not too hungry themselves.

Step 1: Start Close To The “Place”

It is important to start training this behavior close to the “place” and using your leash, guide your dog to the bed and use the command “place”. 

When the dog gets on the bed, tell them they are good and give them a treat. 

Slowly increase the distance from the place and send your dog to the bed.

Repeat this sequence until you can ask your dog to go to the “place” without having to lead them there every time with the leash.

Step 2: Add The “Stay” Command

Next, when the dog goes to the “place” you have chosen correctly, give them the “stay” command. Have the dog wait there for a moment, tell them they are good and give them a reward.

Continue to string these two commands together so the dog learns that when they are sent to their “place” they must also “stay” there until they are released.

Always go to the dog to give them their treat and release them from their “stay” so they never get up and leave without being told that they can.

QUICK TRAINER TIP: Start the length of time you ask the dog to “stay” short and then slowly extend the time longer and longer as the dog gets better at this behavior.

Step 3: Make Sure You Reward Your Dog

Start your dog on their bed at the beginning of dinner or your cooking process and have them wait until you are finished.

Go to the dog when you are done, reward them and then allow them to get up. 

Puppy In "Place" - puppy sitting in dog bed in the kitchen following the "place" command

Troubleshooting:

  • Your dog might resist going to their “place” or become confused. Use your leash and guide them, starting again at a short distance and then move back in small increments until they can walk there on their own when given the command.
  • Another issue that may arise is your dog getting up and leaving on their own before being released. If this happens, calmly bring your dog back to the “place” and give the command “stay” again. Be sure to reward your dog several times before you release them at the end of your meal.

Adding Distractions:

We are always working on the three D’s of dog training. If you’re not familiar with the three D’s they are

  • Distance
  • Duration
  • Distraction.

We’ll talk in more detail in another post. If you’ve been observant then you already know we covered Distance in Step 1 and Duration in Step 2, so now it’s time to talk about Distraction.

When you feel comfortable that your dog knows to go to their “place” when asked and can “stay” there until released, it is time to start challenging them with distractions.

I do this by having someone walk by their bed, drop food or a napkin on the ground or you can even have someone make noise in another room. If the dog remains in their bed, go to them, reward and praise them. 

If your dog gets up, simply bring them back and start over. Repeat these distractions until the dog can remain in their bed regardless of the commotion going on.

It is important that all members of the family follow these guidelines otherwise the dog will become confused and feel unsure of what is being asked of them. Be persistent and consistent and you will have a well mannered dog that you love to have around even during family meal times.

Colby taught a similar command to his Golden Retriever Raven called “Go To Your Bed”. It’s slightly different then these instructions because he used a clicker to train Raven.

Here’s a short video:

Rapid Fire Questions:

Is it bad to give my dog people food?

The food you choose to give your dog is not related to whether they beg or not.

No matter what you choose to feed your dog, as long as it is healthy, you still have to follow the guidelines we talked about and it is best to feed them in their bowl when not in a training session.

Why is my dog still begging even when I have already fed them?

If your dog is anything like mine, he never seems to get full. This is a survival instinct from long ago before dogs were in our homes, happy and warm.

For them, food meant they got to feast and then they might go long periods of time without eating again.

They were scavengers and that trait still lingers even though it is not ideal these days.

Can I give my dog something to chew on while they are in their “place”?

Of course. If you are having a fun meal, your dog might enjoy something to chew.

I like to give my dogs Bully Sticks. I find that my dog and my clients dogs enjoy these and they come in one piece so there is less chance for small pieces to break off.

Supplies We Recommended:

I am giving you a quick reference to the supplies we recommend when you start to train this behavior:

Final Thoughts:

This behavior may seem very simple to train and with consistency it can be.

The benefit of this behavior for your dog and family will be enormous and can be used in so many ways that makes all of your lives easier. 

My client Janet loves to have dinner parties and entertain guests but her large German Shepherd Athena, whose nose is just about table height, would walk along and steal food from her guests plates or jump up and put her feet on the table.

We taught Athena how to lay in the dining room on her bed during the party, where she could be involved, petted and loved on but not disrupt Janet’s beautiful table. 

Teaching this not only reinforces your “stay” command, it gives your dog a soft and safe place to be when there are activities in the home that they want to be near, but you might not want them completely involved in. 

Giving your dog a “place” can also be used in stressful situations such as someone coming to the door.

You can have them learn to go to their bed instead of charging and barking when someone knocks.

Have you taught your dog the “place” command?

If so, have you tried using it to keep your dog from begging at the table?

Tell us about your experiences in the comment section below.

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Top Picks For Our Puppies

  1. BEST PUPPY TOY
    We Like: Calmeroos Puppy Toy w/ Heartbeat and Heat Packs – Perfect for new puppies. Helps ease anxiety in their new home.
  2. BEST DOG CHEW
    We Like: Mighty Paw Naturals Bully Sticks – All of our puppies love to bite, nip, and chew. We love using Bully Sticks to help divert these unwanted behaviors.
  3. BEST DOG TREATS
    We Like: Crazy Dog Train-Me Treats – We use these as our high-value treats for our guide dog puppies.
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    We Like: The Farmer’s Dog – A couple months ago we started feeding Raven fresh dog food and she loves it! Get 50% off your first order of The Farmer’s Dog.

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