How to Train Your Dog to Stop Barking for Food

How to Train Your Dog to Stop Barking for Food
Medium difficulty iconMedium
Time icon2-4 Weeks
Behavior training category iconBehavior

Introduction

Teaching your dog to "ask" for food by barking seemed like a good idea at first. But, now that he barks every time you sit down to a meal, grab a snack, or go to put food in his bowl, the charm has worn off. The official name for this type of barking is "on demand barking", which is when your dog barks in response to a specific stimulus. There are many ways for your dog to pick up this habit, feeding him as above is one of the more common ways.

Picture this, Jane is sitting down at the dinner table when her pup starts to bark excitedly for whatever reason. So, to get him to stop barking, Jane tossed him something off her plate as this seemed to be the easiest way to shut him up. Dogs have a habit of learning very quickly, especially when there appears to be a reward in the form of food. When Jane does this three or four times, the behavior will be firmly entrenched in his habit. 

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Defining Tasks

Now that your dog has developed the habit of barking or "asking" for food, you have to break him of this habit. The bad news is that it is far harder to break him of the habit than it was for him to acquire it. The longer you wait, the harder this habit will be to break. The good news is that if you are willing to put in the time and effort to train him, your pup will no longer bark at you every time you have food. The simplest command to use for this is 'quiet', try not to use anything too complicated as doing so will only serve to confuse your dog and make training him to be that much tougher.

Once you teach him this behavior, you will be able to apply the same training to any other time your dog barks and shouldn't. This includes barking at people or cars going by, people knocking on the door or ringing the doorbell. There are many things that can lead to "on demand barking", the hard part is trying to determine the various triggers so that you can work on teaching your pup to be quiet. 

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Getting Started

Before you can get started, you need to identify when your dog barks. Is it while you are sitting down to a meal, when you are on the couch with a snack, or when you are trying to feed him? Once you understand the triggers, it will be much easier for you to teach him to stop barking. However, you will need a few things, including:

  • Treats: As a reward for when your pup stops barking on command.
  • Clicker: If you are using a clicker for training, you can use this with your treats as a reward.
  • A quiet place: Training is always easier when you have a quiet place to work.
  • Patience: This will take some time, be patient

Once you know when and where he is barking, training him to be quiet won't be that hard. In no time at all, you will be able to sit down to a meal or a snack and not have to listen to your dog barking at you. 

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The Clicker or Marker Method

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1

Teach the clicker or marker word

First, teach your pup to recognize the sound of the clicker or marker word such as "good boy" as a form of praise. Each time you hit the clicker or use the marker word and your dog responds to it, give him a treat, he will soon put two and two together.

2

Ignore the noise

When your dog barks, turn away from him and completely ignore him. When he quiets down, tell him he is a good boy and give him a treat. Be sure to do this, even if he only stops for a couple of seconds. Repeat this process over the course of several days.

3

Add the 'quiet' command

Now that you have his attention, add the command word "quiet" while he is barking. If he stops within say 10 seconds, praise him and give him a treat. Repeat this process, slowly reducing the time and rewarding him each time he succeeds.

4

Reverse the process

Reverse this process by adding time to how long he needs to be silent before he gets a treat. In time, he will learn not to bark when there is food present.

5

Repeat the training

Be prepared to repeat this training several times a day. It will take some time and patience, but having a dog who knows how to be quiet and not bark for food is a wonderful experience.

The Ignore the Noise Method

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1

Sit down at the table with food

Sit down at your normal meal time with a plate of food.

2

Allow your dog to bark

Allow your dog to go ahead and bark as usual. But this time, instead of feeding him or worse yet yelling at him, ignore him completely.

3

No matter how bad it gets

No matter how much he barks or how much of a fuss he makes, keep ignoring him. Remain focused on eating your meal and if there are others at the table, carry on a conversation.

4

When he finally stops barking

When your pup finally gets tired of making so much noise and quiets down, say "quiet" followed by "good boy" and give him a treat

5

Be persistent

You need to be persistent. Every time he barks turn your back on him and completely ignore him until he stops barking, then give him the treat. He is going to severely test your patience, but stick to it and in time he will learn what is expected of him.

The Bed Method

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Pick up a bed for your dog

If you don't already have one, buy your dog a bed or a mat he can use as his safe spot. You will be using this throughout the training and he will be using for many years to come.

2

Place the bed

Put his bed in a location that will be easy for him to find and for you to send him to at meal times.

3

At the table

When your pup comes to the table and starts barking, take him to his bed and make him lie down on it. When he does, be sure to reward him with a treat and plenty of praise.

4

Each time he barks

Each time your dog comes up to you at the table or anywhere else you have food, send him to his bed. This will become his "go-to" place when he misbehaves. When he obeys, give him a treat. You may have to repeat this step multiple times before your pup finally gets the message.

5

No more treats

Once your pup has learned to go quietly to his bed, you have the option of sending him there before he starts to bark. It may take a while, but in the end, you and your family can enjoy peaceful meals without having to listen to your pup bark.

By PB Getz

Published: 11/10/2017, edited: 01/08/2021

Training Questions

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Training Questions and Answers

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Spud

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Labrador

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5 Months

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Question

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How to stop my 5 month puppy from launching himself and nipping us, especially when we are sitting down on a couch. How to stop him from jumping on people and biting/nipping.

June 8, 2022

Spud's Owner

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Caitlin Crittenden - Dog Trainer

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1133 Dog owners recommended

Hello Michelle, Check out the article I have linked below and the Leave It method. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bite I would also teach out from this article - Out means move away from the area. https://www.petful.com/behaviors/how-to-teach-a-dog-the-out-command/ Finally, check out the article I have linked below on jumping. I would use a combination of the leash method and the step toward method. What works best will depend on pup's temperament. I would use the leash method the most in this case probably. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-australian-shepherds-to-not-jump Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

June 8, 2022

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Cindy

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Golden Retriever

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11 Years

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Hey there! Cindy has always been a very calm and obedient dog. She has also always loved food. However, over the past few months, I've noticed that she gets tremendously overexcited when she recognises a dog owner who will give her treats. She runs to them or pulls on the lead, and when she gets there, she will bark until she gets treats. If we happen to meet the same person again on the walk, she will bark at them again, and in fact she will often try to lead me back to the person. Her barking is usually low pitched, but when she sees these dog owners, she'll bark in a very high pitched way, that almost resembles whining or crying. I'd still like for her to get a treat or two, as I find it to be a cute and stimulating interaction during walks, but I would like for her to be more calm about it. Any advice?

May 9, 2022

Cindy's Owner

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Caitlin Crittenden - Dog Trainer

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1133 Dog owners recommended

Hello Francesco, The best option in this situation would be to request that others don't give treats while out on a walk - that will help desensitize her to people again. You however could carry hidden treats and occasionally offer one for calmness and attention on you, just make sure she is never given one after barking - when she barks for one, start asking for lots of commands in quick succession without any treat rewards during the process - like doggie pushups to get her mind calm and less demanding again. For example, Sit, Down, Stand, Down, Sit, Watch Me, Heel, Sit, Heel, Down, Heel, Watch me - for five minutes straight, then just suddenly stop and resume your walk. This tends to majorly calm down many dogs and facilitate a more respectful attitude. If you absolutely must have others give her treats, you can try having the person ask her to do three commands first, and use a remote training collar you control or an automatic bark collar to interrupt any barking. There probably needs to be a correction for the barking in this case, a reward only when quiet (which pup should learn to become due to the correction so she can be rewarded), and some desensitizing - which the obedience is helpful for - it engages pup's mind and focus to help decrease all those hormones flooring pup's brain in anticipation of something fun happening - facilitating pup being calmer and creating a habit of being calmer when greeting people with treats. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

May 9, 2022


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