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Why do Dogs Beg and How do You Stop Them?

Nuala McHugh


Nuala McHugh
Nuala McHugh

Nuala McHugh

Content Writer

Nuala began her writing career when she studied English at Queen’s University Belfast and later earned a Master's degree in PR and Communications.

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Updated: March 25, 2024

Verified by Andrew Dickens

Andrew Dickens

Andrew Dickens


Andrew Dickens is an award-winning writer, editor and broadcaster with 20 years in journalism. He’s created compelling content on film and television, travel, food and drink, physical and mental health, business, sport, technology and politics. And, of course, dog food.

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Andrew Dickens

How many times have you cooked yourself a delicious dinner, only to be met with a dog’s irresistible pleading eyes staring back at you? Even the toughest among us find it challenging to resist — but we should.

Indulging your dog’s begging behavior can lead to a host of issues, ranging from unwanted behaviors to serious health conditions like canine obesity.

But, why do dogs beg and can you stop them begging?

The good news is that you can manage your dog’s begging habits with some consistency and a bit of patience.

Why do dogs beg? 

Put simply — dogs beg because they want something. Whether this is food, playtime, or cuddles, dogs are good at asking for something without having to use words. It works, too!

Why do dogs beg for food?

They want what you’re eating

It’s usually because dogs love food and that bacon you’re sizzling smells amazing. Dogs are driven by their sense of smell and naturally will want to try a bit of human food that they normally don’t get. And because it sometimes works, perhaps a visitor slipping them table scraps behind your back, your dog will try again until they succeed.


Dogs also beg because it’s natural behavior. In the wild, their ancestors didn’t have regular feeding schedules and dogs don’t worry about eating too much. So, if they see any food available, they’ll try their best to get their paws on it.


Dogs begging can be a sign of boredom too. If your dog is pawing at you and begging you to go outside, they may just want some playtime or exercise. Ensure your dog has plenty of activity during the day including walks, playtime, and puzzles to keep them stimulated. 

Dietary deficiency 

If your dog is constantly begging even though you aren’t giving in, you may want to consider if they are receiving sufficient nutrients from their diet. Your dog needs a nutritionally complete and balanced diet.

Is my dog hungry or just begging?

It’s essential to assess whether your dog is receiving a sufficient balance of nutrients tailored to their age and breed requirements

Underlying health issue

Similarly, if your dog suddenly starts begging, it may, it may indicate an underlying health concern. Chat with your veterinarian to rule out any potentially serious issues before addressing your dog’s begging habits.

What dog begging looks like

How do you know if your dog is begging? Every dog is different but you most likely will know right away if your puppy or dog is asking for something. Ultimately, your dog is smart and knows how to get around you when they want something. Being cute usually works but there are less adorable behaviors too. These include:

  • Yapping
  • Barking
  • Nipping 
  • Jumping 
  • Excessive pawing
  • Grabbing food behind your back

Typically, your dog’s begging behavior is closely linked to their desire or needs. For instance, if they’re barking at their leash, they probably want a walk, while repeatedly dropping a tennis ball at your feet means it’s playtime.

Should you let your dog beg?

As hard as it is to resist, begging is generally considered a bad habit for several reasons including:

  • Begging can lead to obesity
  • Some human foods are not safe for dogs 
  • Confusion – your dog won’t understand why it can have some of your chicken but not your chocolate
  • Your dog may decide their dog food isn’t as tasty as the snacks they receive and go off their dinner. This then means they are missing out on essential nutrients from their dog food.

How to stop a dog from begging

Start early

If you just have a new puppy, congrats! It’s easier to train a dog not to beg from a young age. Despite puppies being extra cute, don’t give in — it’s worth it in the long run. Having said this, it’s never too late to teach an older dog new tricks with patience and consistency so don’t use their age as an excuse.

Ignore them 

Refrain from reacting to your dog’s begging behavior. Attention, even negative, can reinforce the behavior.


Offer your dog an appropriate distraction, like a chew toy or puzzle feeder, to keep them occupied during meal times. A good idea is to reach them to go to a designated spot and hang out there while you’re eating. You may want to get a mat or bed where they can be directed to when the begging starts. This may require a bit of extra training but it is worth it.

Be consistent

Enforce a strict no-begging rule consistently across all family members to avoid confusion. It’s worth giving guests a heads -up or putting your dog in a different room when cooking or eating.

Establish a Feeding Routine

Dogs love routine — stick to a regular feeding schedule to reduce the temptation for your dog to beg. This means your dog will know when to expect their next meal and if they eat before your dinner, they won’t be as hungry.

Ensure Adequate Stimulation

Make sure your dog gets enough mental and physical exercise to prevent boredom and anxiety, which can lead to begging behavior.

Feed a Balanced Diet

Ensure your dog’s nutritional needs are met with a balanced diet formulated for their age, size, and health status. If you are unsure what kind of diet your dog needs, your vet or pet nutritionist will be happy to discuss this with you.

Article reviewed by

Andrew Dickens is an award-winning writer, editor and broadcaster with 20 years in journalism. He’s created compelling content on film and television, travel, food and drink, physical and mental health, business, sport, technology and politics. And, of course, dog food.

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