Dogs tend to eat at predictable times, and they should consume just enough nutrients to stay healthy and happy. But what happens if my dog doesn’t follow the rules, I hear you ask. Why does my dog constantly beg for food?
Most often, a dog will beg for extra food out of habit. This behavior is usually followed by whining, barking, leaping onto your lap or chair, tugging at your clothes, or even knocking down food bowls.
But sometimes, that begging is actually an indicator that your dog is hungry. There are lots of reasons for this reaction, from irregular meal times to various illnesses and health problems. Fortunately, you can train your pet to stop begging and bothering you at the dinner table. It will, however, take lots of time and effort to train the pooch.
Why Does My Dog Constantly Beg for Food?
Just last week, one of my neighbors complained about her pet Chihuahua and her constant mewling at the table. She found it bizarre that the pooch kept hopping at the table looking for something to eat despite just having eaten her daily meal. ‘Why does my dog constantly beg for food when I sit at the table?’ she asked frantically at some point. And I can definitely understand her plight. I lost count of the number of times I’ve heard the phrase ‘why does my dog constantly beg for food’ repeated, both in real life and online.
So, in order to help both my anxious neighbor and you, eager dog owners with similar issues, I’ve decided to cover the topic of table begging among dogs. Hopefully, after reading this article you’ll know enough about this dilemma to manage to solve it on your own.
Why Does My Dog Constantly Beg for Food: The Root Cause
Later in the article, I will go over some potential health reasons behind dogs asking for more sustenance. But I think it’s instructive to address the most common reason behind the act of begging itself.
Dogs are scavengers by nature. Because of that innate behavior, they don’t really know their own limitations when it comes to eating. Unlike us, they can’t figure out when they’ve had enough, even intuitively. So, it’s only natural that they would eat more than usual if food presented itself in front of them.
‘But why does my dog constantly BEG for food’, you might be asking. ‘After all, I’ve already fed it the right amount, and it’s not like I called it over.’ And I understand that it might feel frustrating to have your pooch wag its tail and whine for a bite of your table scraps. But believe it or not, that kind of behavior is usually learned, and more often than not, the owner is responsible for it, directly or otherwise.
Usually, you would feed your dog twice a day. You can space out the feeding anywhere between 8 and 12 hours. And the amount of food you give it will depend on several factors, including age, weight, size, breed, activity level, and overall health. In terms of snacks, you should feed them to your buddy in the smallest pieces possible, less than 10% of the total calorie count that it needs.
However, as stated earlier, your dog might not know that it has had enough. If they spot you eating, they will come over and ask for scraps. And if either you or any of your family members give them some, the dog will get used to it and expect some extra food every time.
Is My Dog Really Hungry (and How Can I Tell)?
Of course, the whole why does my dog constantly beg for food argument has many different sides to it. For example, your dog might actually be hungry and not simply begging for an extra bite to eat. The question is, how can you tell the difference?
There are dog owners out there who readily feed table scraps to their pets. If you’re not one of them, however, your dog shouldn’t be going to your table and asking for more food. In other words, when the puppy starts to whine when you sit down and eat, and you’ve been consistent in NOT feeding it table scraps, that’s a telltale sign that it’s actually hungry.
Feeding snacks to your pooch is usually done at specific intervals during the day. For instance, you can give them a nibble between meals for an energy boost, or right after a walk. If you do this regularly enough, the dog will recognize it as a pattern and won’t seek food beyond its regular meals and snack time. However, if it breaks the norm and asks for snacks at other time intervals, it’s probably hungry.
Regular Meal Times
Most dogs tend to eat the exact amount of food you give them, mainly because you will always feed them a consistent portion. Their organism will get used to this amount and under normal circumstances, when they’re not hungry, they won’t be asking for more.
Irregular Meal Times
Interestingly, both regular and irregular feeding times will be great indicators of a dog’s hunger. Throughout your life, you will probably have some stressful and difficult days, which might cause you to forget your dog’s typical feeding time. You might feed it at 9 AM one day and forget to do so the next; when that happens, hunger is almost inevitable.
Inexplicable Weight Loss
Your dog might be asking for more food if it has suddenly lost a lot of weight. It’s not easy to spot when the pooch is a couple of pounds lighter since these pounds tend to shed at a gradual pace. More dauntingly, if there was no change in your dog’s daily activity, you won’t know what caused this sudden weight loss without consulting a vet.
Easily Explicable Weight Loss
Sometimes, a dog’s weight loss can be sudden and difficult to figure out. But there are other times when the ‘missing’ pounds are tied to a shift in behavior. Most often, the pounds will be gone if your dog has become a lot more active than before. Maybe you started to walk your pet more frequently than usual, or maybe it’s running around and getting lots of exercises. Whatever the case might be, you can expect your puppy to be hungry after a good ‘workout.’
How to Handle Sudden Hunger
Depending on which of the reasons is behind your puppy’s sudden need for more food, you will have to approach the why does my dog constantly beg for food issue differently. More often than not, the steps are pretty self-explanatory and easy to apply.
Check the Nutrient Content
Numerous pet food brands are cluttering the market right now. Dog owners would, therefore, buy low-grade food sometimes. And sadly, that food can contain very few useful nutrients and a lot of filler that doesn’t give your pet anything other than additional calories. If that happens, simply change the brand and get some dog food that has everything a growing puppy needs.
My pick of High Nutrient Dog Food is shown below. Click on Image to see in Amazon.
Take the Food to an Expert
Sometimes, it’s not enough for you to check the food you’re giving to your pets. You will need an opinion of an expert regarding the quantity and the quality of your dog’s favorite meals. That way, you can adjust the pet’s feeding habits accordingly.
Potential Health Issues
A dog craving for food might be suffering from a serious condition. I will cover all of the potential health risks behind begging for scraps a little later, in more detail.
Is My Dog Simply Begging (and How Can I Tell)?
As odd as this might sound to some new pet owners, dogs can ask for food even when they’re absolutely not hungry. There are various reasons for this phenomenon, with the most common one being owners feeding table scraps to their pets. Another popular reason behind the why does my dog constantly beg for food conundrum is simple boredom. Maybe your dog hasn’t been feeling active lately, so it’s seeking more food and attention from you.
But what are some of the most common signs of begging?
Whining and Hopping
By far, the biggest telltale sign of a non-hungry dog begging for food is excessive whining. Dogs know how we feel about them, so they’ll definitely try to tug at your heartstrings by sounding hungry. Children tend to fall for this behavior, and they are the ones who feed the dog table scraps most often. But lots of adults fall for this sort of behavior as well.
Tugging at your clothes
Dogs tug at clothes when they want you to either go somewhere or do something specific. Usually, if a dog is begging for food, it’ll come to the table and tug at your pants or shirt with its teeth. More often than not, the tugs will be accompanied by whining.
The Puppy-Dog Eyes
Since they are incredibly intelligent and empathetic, dogs can read our emotions like a book. And yes, they can use their behavior to manipulate our emotions. The best example of this is showing you their puppy-dog expression, with eyes wide open and staring directly at you. Soft whines and subdued barks may also follow.
Knocking Over Objects
If your dog doesn’t get any table scraps or snacks by whining or tugging at your clothes, it will try to get your attention in different ways. For instance, lots of puppies deliberately step in (or knock over) their food bowls to signify that they want to eat. Moreover, they will keep doing it until you give in and feed them.
How to Discourage Begging
Luckily, you don’t have to put up with your little buddy’s begging forever. All you have to do is actively work to discourage it from the act. It’s not an easy process and it will take some time, so here’s a little word of advice before I move on to the methods themselves. No matter what you do, remain patient and resolute. It could take a few weeks or even months, but you will definitely appreciate the effort you put in once the results start to show.
Stop Feeding the Pet
If you happen to be one of those pet owners that absentmindedly feed the dog at the table, you need to discipline yourself to stop. Moreover, encourage your whole family to stop as well.
When you’re trying to prevent your dog from begging for food, you have to do it every single day, using the same method consistently. You must not send the dog mixed signals and confuse them further.
Distance the Dog
Do you have a tether, a crate, or a baby gate? If so, use any one of these tools and distance your dog physically from the table when you eat. The more you do it, the more likely it is that your dog will learn not to approach the table during meals.
Other Means of Satisfaction
If your dog starts to beg, try to distract it with a different activity. For instance, you can give it a Kong toy or a chew bone. Some owners even take their dogs for short strolls in order to get them to focus on something other than begging.
Why Does My Dog Constantly Beg for Food: Illnesses and Begging
Not all of the answers to the why does my dog constantly beg for food question are benign. There are a whole host of health problems which can cause your dog to beg for food more often than usual. Some of the most common conditions include:
- Cushing’s disease
- Exocrine pancreatic insufficiency or EPI
- Bacterial overgrowth
- All conditions that lead to malabsorption
However, sometimes the begging will come as a result of a negative reaction from medication. Moreover, if your dog is old, excessive hunger might simply be due to old age. Whatever the case might be, your first step is to take your pooch to the vet as quickly as possible.
Why Does My Dog Constantly Beg for Food: the Conclusion
So, when it’s all said and done, what’s the main takeaway? Why does my dog constantly beg for food, then? Well, as you can see, there are lots of different reasons, but the one that seems to be most frequent is learned behavior. Naturally, if you take all the proper steps and work hard, you will root that behavior out and your dog will be healthier and happier for it.