How to Stop Your Dog from Begging

Three Parts:Ignoring the DogGetting the Dog Away from the TableCreating Consistency

A common complaint among dog owners, heard around many dining tables, is that the dog begs during meals and in doing so creates a nuisance. Many dog owners find it challenging to break their dog of this habit, and don't realize they may be contributing to the problem. Sometimes breaking yourself of your own bad habits can be a challenging but necessary part of ending the begging. However, if you can dedicate yourself to breaking the cycle of begging for a few weeks, the problem can usually be resolved.

Part 1
Ignoring the Dog

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    Understand the behavior. Dogs are relatively simple creatures. If they perform a behavior that results in a reward, they will repeat the behavior expecting a reward in the future. If a behavior does not result in a payoff, they will have no reason to repeat it.[1]
    • Some dogs will just sit and look at you, while others might whine at you until they get what they want. If the dog does not get what it wants, it may even bark at you, paw at you, or climb up on the couch or chair to get closer to you to make its point.
    • If you feed them or pet the dog when it does these things, you reward the behavior with a treat or pat on the head. A food reward is a very common payoff, but throwing a ball or giving the dog attention is also a form of positive reinforcement.[2]
    • For some dogs, only one or two payoffs are needed to train a dog to beg. Undoing this training is a matter of removing the reinforcement, challenging though this may be.
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    Don't feed the dog. The most basic and important step in the process of undoing the negative training that has led to begging is to stop feeding the dog from the table.[3]
    • Most people give in every once in a while and give some scraps to their begging dog, and this reinforces the undesirable behavior.
    • Refusing to acknowledge your dog when you are eating is crucial to both preventing a begging habit and stopping an existing problem. No matter how much your dog barks, whines, or stares at you when you eat, do not feed it.
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    Don't talk to the dog. Unless you are giving the dog a command, don’t give your dog attention by talking to it, or even mentioning its name.[4]
    • No matter how frustrated you get, do not yell at a begging dog. Attention of any kind, even such negative attention, can reinforce the begging behavior.[5]
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    Don't even look at the dog. Even making eye-contact with your dog is a form of attention, which rewards the behavior you are trying to extinguish.[6]
    • Even the most subtle attention can encourage the begging behavior.

Part 2
Getting the Dog Away from the Table

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    Direct your dog to another location. If you can train your dog to go somewhere else on command, or confine it to another area, this may stop it from begging.
    • Try putting the dog outside or in another room. The idea is to be out of sight and prevent access to avoid begging. This may not stop the barking or whining, but will at least put some distance between you and the obnoxious behavior.[7]
    • If you don't want to confine your dog, you can train it to just go elsewhere during dinner. If your dog is crate trained, place it in is crate with a dog safe-treat while you are eating.[8]
    • If you have trained your dog to “crate” or “go to bed," give the command so that the dog leaves the immediate area. However, some dogs may still whine or stare at you from afar.
    • Crate training your dog will require you to give it rewards for going to its area. But, if you feed or reward the dog after begging, it will continue the behavior. So, it's best to practice “crate” or “go to your bed” when dinner is not on the table. Once the dog understands the command and performs it reliably, then you can introduce the added challenge of using it when the distractions are high (e.g at dinner time).
    • You may need to tether the dog or close its create to keep it in the desired area during dinner.[9]
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    Teach the dog to "leave it." It can be helpful to teach your dog the command “leave it.” This means "leave whatever it is that you are sniffing alone."[10]
    • You will need to practice this command on-leash and away from the table.
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    Give the dog a "time-out." If your dog will not voluntarily leave the table or continues to beg from its crate, you may need to give the dog "time-outs" in another room.[11]
    • Immediately after the dog begs, place it in a room with no food or toys. The idea is that the room should be a boring place, away from you and your meal. It should not be a place the dog enjoys.[12]
    • After a few minutes, let the dog out. If it begs again, put it back in the time-out room. Before long, the dog will begin to associate getting a time out with the begging behavior.[13]
    • Your dog may whine or bark after being place in time-out. This might seem worse than the begging, but if you stick with the routine and are consistent, you will eventually stop the undesired behavior.

Part 3
Creating Consistency

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    Get everyone involved. Make sure everyone in your household is following the same ground rules as you are. Otherwise, the dog will not learn to stop begging.
    • If even one person in your household gives in and feeds from the table, your effort will be compromised. Your dog will learn quickly which people will or will not give it food.
    • Help your family members or roommates understand that it is for the dog’s sake that the begging should stop. The dog should have a balanced diet and maintain a healthy weight for a long life, and feeding from the table will compromise those goals.
    • In addition, begging is a habit that undermines the joy of living with a well behaved house pet.
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    Be consistent. If you slip-up even once, that will give your dog motivation to keep begging.[14]
    • It’s not the end of the world if this happens, but you will need to start again.
    • Remember that consistency is key with any dog training. “No” means “no” and you need to follow through and not give in to your dog’s wishes.
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    Don't let guilt get in the way. Your dog is not deprived, will not starve, and will not hate you for this later.[15]
    • Guilt is a human emotion. Your dog will not hold a grudge against you later for not feeding it table scraps.
    • You can treat your dog later with something healthy if it makes you feel better. Use the treat to reinforce an old command or to start teaching a new one. Do not give treats that are not earned. That means that the behavior is your idea, not your dog’s.
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    Don't give up. Your dog should stop begging within a couple of weeks or so, but you (and everyone in the household) need to remain vigilant.[16]
    • If there is no pay off, the dog will eventually stop trying, especially if you start administering time outs.
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    Hire a professional. If your dog is more persistent than you are, you may want to get a professional and reputable dog trainer involved with helping break the habit.[17]
    • Chances are good that this is not the only bad habit that needs to be broken. Both you and your dog may need to revisit obedience classes to brush up on your commands.
    • Contact your local animal shelter or dog-boarding business. They may have a training program themselves, but if not, can probably refer you to one.


  • When you have visitors, let them know the house rules include not feeding the dog. Ask them not to give in to or acknowledge begging. If they give your dog attention or scraps of food, the begging will start again.
  • When guests are around, this is a good time to remove the temptation and use the crate or another room to remove the dog from the dinner table.
  • The easiest way to deal with a bad habit is to never start one in the first place. If you have a new dog, never give it table scraps, and it won't ever expect to receive any.


  • Some dogs may actually ramp-up their begging behavior in an effort to get “paid” with a treat. It will be difficult to ignore and not give in because they can get downright pushy. Just know that if you give in and reward any behavior you do not want reinforced, you will train your dog to perform that obnoxious behavior in the future.
  • If at any time you think that your dog may bite you to get a treat, a ball or attention, you need to get a professional trainer involved immediately.

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Categories: Dog Obedience