Make Your Dog’s Begging Less Bothersome

With a little training, your dog won’t be too proud to beg properly.

Jolanta Benal, CPDT-KA, CBCC-KA
4-minute read
Episode #4

Today’s project is to teach your dog to beg for table scraps. “Wait, wait,” you’re thinking, “my dog totally knows how to do that already!” Yes, of course. Some dogs --okay, most dogs --seem to be born knowing how to put their nose in your lap while you eat. And how to paw your knee, and how to nudge your elbow at the exact moment you lift the soup spoon. There is a better way.

How to Get Your Dog to Stop Begging

First, a housekeeping point. You may have heard that you shouldn’t give your dog “people food.” True, your table scraps won’t likely supply your dog with a complete and balanced diet. But it’s okay for a healthy dog to enjoy a few fingernail-sized bites of your chicken, pasta, or Moo Shu vegetables. Scrape off rich or spicy sauces unless your dog has a cast-iron stomach. And don’t share the human foods that can really harm dogs: some biggies are onions, raisins, grapes, avocado, certain citrus fruits, and chocolate. Check with your vet if your dog has any food-related medical problems.

Also, a word of caution: if your dog gets excessively mouth-on-people or seems outright aggressive when frustrated, this exercise isn’t for her. Get help from a qualified behavior professional.  And if your dog is more into stealing food than begging for it, check out the episode of my show on stopping your dog from stealing food.

Teach Your Dog Polite Begging

Now get ready to teach your dog polite begging.

Normally, if you’re using food rewards, you’re better off starting with a slightly hungry dog. But ignoring your pot roast or tempeh has got to be harder for a hungry dog than a sated one. So feed your dog before your meal. You can do this training at breakfast and dinner since most adult dogs should get two meals a day.

Next, place your dog’s wonderful, comfy bed somewhere near the table. Your dog does have a wonderful, comfy bed, right? It should be far enough away so the dog isn’t underfoot when lying on it, but close enough that when you throw food at the bed you won’t miss.


About the Author

Jolanta Benal, CPDT-KA, CBCC-KA

Jolanta holds professional certifications in both training and behavior counseling and belongs to the Association of Professional Dog Trainers and the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants. She also volunteered with Pet Help Partners, a program of the Humane Society of the United States that works to prevent pet relinquishment. Her approach is generally behaviorist (Pavlovian, Skinnerian and post-Skinnerian learning theory) with a big helping of ethology (animal behavior as observed in non-experimental settings).