Begging at the Table in Dogs

Medically Reviewed by Amy Flowers, DVM on July 10, 2023
3 min read

When your dog starts hovering around you or your family members whenever you touch food, they may have a begging problem. Begging is natural for dogs, but it can be annoying when they get in your or your guest's face the instant you sit down to eat. Dogs can also be hard to say no to when they give you their begging look.

If you've given your dog table food in the past, they'll likely become more persistent in asking for it. Dogs will always want your food, but you can teach them to leave you alone while you eat. Table scraps are not healthy for your dog, and you should limit how much human food you give them. Training them to stop begging will be better for their health and your peace of mind. Stopping this behavior quickly will help you and your family eat without being bothered. 

The best way to get your dog to stop begging is to prevent them from being near you while you eat. You can confine your dog to another room or put them in their crate while you eat. If you want them to stay in the same room, you’ll want to train them to find something else to do and to ignore you. 

Redirecting their attention from you and your food will be the most helpful. Try getting them to focus on different activities or let them play in another room. If you're OK with penning them, you can create a fenced-in area for them to go to when food is out. 

Counter-conditioning your dog can also help solve the problem of begging. When your dog starts to beg, tell them to “lie down” or “fetch.” Having them play with a toy can take their desire off your food and help prevent them from begging. If your dog doesn't give up asking for food after you've tried to get them to do something else, you'll want to start training. 

To get your dog to stop begging, you can teach them to go to a designated spot and hang out there while you're eating. When your dog gets into your business and won’t leave you alone, just tell them to go to their spot. 

To do this you’ll need to designate a bed or spot in a room where they can go. This can be a place for them to play with their toys or chew on bones. Start by teaching "stay." Once they understand this command, teach them to "go to their spot" and show them where they need to be.

When they go to their spot, reward them with treats and praise. Teach this trick before you start practicing near food. Make sure they understand your command without associating it with begging at the table. Once they start to beg, you can redirect their attention and send them to their spot. 

You can help keep your dog from begging at the table by refraining from giving them table scraps. If they know they can get food by hovering, they’ll continue to do it. If your dog is barking or whining for your dinner, you’ll need to let them know it won’t work anymore. It can be difficult, but try to ignore their cries for food. 

Don’t scold your dog for begging. Instead, use positive reinforcement when your dog leaves people’s food alone. This will create a stronger bond between you and your dog. Have chew toys and bones in their designated spot so they have something to occupy themselves with while you’re eating. 

Another important part of setting boundaries for your dog is making sure everyone in the house follows them. Let family members and friends know that they shouldn't give your dog food, even if they look cute begging. Keeping consistent rules causes less confusion for your dog and shows them that begging will not be rewarded.