Why Do Dogs Beg?

Okay, so you’re a human, you probably have a dog, so you want to know the details. You want answers.

Not surprised, we dogs are a mystery. We’re complex creatures of unpaired beauty and talent. And since I’m feeling generous, I’ll give you the answers.

Why do dogs beg? Well if you gave us more food we wouldn’t have to beg. Maybe don’t eat so many delicious snacks in front of us, how about that?

But yeah okay, I’ll admit it. We may beg a little too much, even after just having eaten.

dog dancing with man

And the thing is when we beg we look like sad little puppies, and you humans end up feeling so emotional about it that we get away with it.

But here’s a secret, we’re not actually sad. That’s just the facial expression that we know gets us the food. Pretty clever of us, right?

Truth is, we beg because it’s a form of communicating what we want to you. We can’t exactly walk up and say, “hey give me some food.”

We’ve got movement, barking, and begging. And begging is the one that gets us the food, so that’s our way of asking for it.

But let’s get more in-depth, shall we? I’m playing the role of a master right now, so might as well make the most of it!

What does it mean when a dog begs?

When a dog is begging, it usually means one main thing: I want food. Specifically, it means: I want that food. As in the food that you’re probably eating right in front of the dog.

I mean come on, can you blame us? The temptation is right there, and we always find a way to still be hungry if the food smells good enough.

Begging is something we learn. Through trial and error, through watching other dogs, and sometimes because you humans are literally teaching us to do it. (And then you complain when we do, kinda rude.) It’s a learned behavior, and as long as it keeps working, we will keep doing it.

Your dog begging doesn’t necessarily mean that he’s hungry or needs food. But it does mean that he’s seen the food and that he wants it because…well why wouldn’t a dog want food? Food is the best thing in the world. Food and toys. And bones. And running. And squirrels. But back to the food.

Your dog will pull the sad face, making the famous puppy eyes. Maybe he’ll whine, sounding like the saddest creature on earth so you feel bad.

He might offer you his paw because we know that always works. And then he’ll sit and stare at you until you yield (or until he gives up.)

Whether you give in or not is up to you. But now you know what it means. Your dog wants food, so it begs for it.

Why is my dog begging so much?

As I admitted earlier on, we dogs can sometimes beg a little too much. And I get it, that feeling of guilt and sadness that we cause in you humans can get annoying.

Most of you end up finding it weird that we keep begging so much despite having eaten already. And a lot of you also think it’s just plain rude of us.

But here’s the thing, we dogs don’t find begging weird or rude. To us it’s instinctive. Our brains are hardwired to seek food from humans because we are domesticated, and so we know that humans are our providers of food. If anything it’s your fault for having us as pets!

If your dog is begging a lot, it’s not on purpose. It’s almost unconscious. We see the food, we beg for it. Even if we’re not hungry.

And the more your dog begs, the more it will become a routine. Your dog will be in the habit of begging, so it’s not even a conscious decision when he does it.

If you occasionally give in to the begging and reward the behavior with food, then the dog knows that it works, and he’ll keep doing it even more.

Dogs don’t naturally beg. We learn it. So if your dog is begging a lot, it is because of the way you have acted around the dog when begging. Clearly, he thinks he’s doing something right if he keeps on doing it!

How do I stop my dog from begging?

I’ve established that us begging is your fault. We do it because it works. But that doesn’t mean that you’re stuck with us begging forever. We’re good boys, we can learn whatever you have to teach us, including ‘no more begging’.

The main thing you have to do, in order for your dog to stop begging, is to make it incredibly clear that it is no longer going to work. If you manage to drill into his head that begging does not get food, then he will have no use for begging and will stop.

Usually, we beg while you humans are eating your food, so the first step is to remove us from the situation.

Warning, you need to be patient. You need to repeat the exercises over and over again, until we know for sure that’s the new norm, and the training works.

If your dog comes up to the table, remove him. Send him away. Ideally set up a safe and cozy spot where he can go and lie down to wait for the eating to be over. If the dog keeps coming (we are relentless), keep removing him. Calmly, firmly.

You have to be the alpha dog for us to listen! Keep doing this until the dog gets fed up with trying. Then reward him for being a good boy!

Eventually, your dog will realize that he’s not going to get food by begging and that he instead gets rewarded for being a good boy and staying put while you eat.

In Conclusion

Well, now you know. You’re welcome. We dogs beg because it’s our way of communicating “give us food”.

We do it because we’ve learned that it works. We don’t do it because we’re hungry or sad, we do it because we instinctively see you as the food provider, so we ask you for food when we see it.

And sure, we sometimes take it too far but you can train us to behave like good boys and to not bother you while you eat. We can take a hint if you hint it enough times!