How to Train Your Dog to Stop Barking for Food

Medium
2-4 Weeks
Behavior

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. 

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. 

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. 

The Clicker or Marker Method

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Most Recommended
1 Vote
Step
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.
Step
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.
Step
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.
Step
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.
Step
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.
Recommend training method?

The Ignore the Noise Method

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Step
1
Sit down at the table with food
Sit down at your normal meal time with a plate of food.
Step
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.
Step
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.
Step
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
Step
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.
Recommend training method?

The Bed Method

ribbon-method-3
Effective
0 Votes
Step
1
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.
Step
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.
Step
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.
Step
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.
Step
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.
Recommend training method?

Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers

Question
Ferris
Sprocker Spaniel
9 Months
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Ferris
Sprocker Spaniel
9 Months

My dog CONSTANTLY barks.
She barks when we sit on the sofa, when we cook, when we eat, when we are stood talking to friends, when we stop at traffic lights etc. And it’s persistent LOUD barking staring straight at us.
We’ve tried completely ignoring it but it can go on for 30mins plus, and obviously if we are eating or cooking or working we can’t just get up and leave the room. The neighbours have also made comments about how bad it is for them as well.

We tried giving her treats when she is finally quiet but she just starts straight up again. We really don’t know what to do and my boyfriend is fully losing patience with her.

We must be doing something wrong but I don’t know what it could possibly be- can anyone help us!?!

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
959 Dog owners recommended

Hello Sorrel, Some dogs actually find barking itself rewarding and the behavior becomes a cycle. In those cases I recommend the use of an interrupter to make the barking itself less rewarding, so that you can then reward the quietness in place of the barking too. First, pup needs to understand what you want so I suggest teaching the Quiet command from the Quiet method in the article I have linked below - don't expect this alone to work but it will be part of the puzzle for what I will suggest next. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bark Next, once pup understands what Quiet means you will choose an interrupter - neither too harsh nor ineffective. A Pet Convincer is one example of an interrupter. A pet convincer is a small canister of pressurized, unscented air that you can spray a quick puff of at the dog's side to surprise them enough to help them calm back down. (Don't use citronella and avoid spraying in the face!). In situations where you know pup will bark or is already barking (catch them before they bark if you can), command "Quiet". If they obey, reward with a treat and very calm praise. If they bark anyway or continue to bark, say "Ah Ah" firmly but calmly and give a brief correction. Repeat the correction each time they bark until you get a brief pause in the barking. When they pause, praise and reward then. The combination of communication, correction, and rewarding - with the "Ah Ah" and praise to mark their good and bad behavior with the right timing, is very important. Once pup is calmer in general after the initial training, practice exposing her a lot to the things that trigger the barking normally (make a list - even if it's long). Whenever she DOESN'T bark around something that she normally would have, calmly praise and reward her to continue the desensitization process. For example, if she would normally bark when you walk past while sitting on the couch. If you walk past and she doesn't bark, calmly place a treat between her paws. If she barks after having done the initial training, and pup being at the point where she understands not to, then I would simply correct in that setting, only rewarding at that point for not barking to begin with. It may also be worth consulting your vet, to make sure there isn't something unusual going on like abnormal hearing. I am not a vet though, so speak with your vet about anything that could be medically related. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Eva
Stray
11 Months
1 found helpful
Question
1 found helpful
Eva
Stray
11 Months

Eva is kept in a cage. She took up a habit to run out of the area when we let her loose once I started taking her out on walks and she learned of the world outside. My dad was the one who took care of the punishment for when she ran away and it was to beat her. Till recently, she was confined to her cage, let out only to relieve herself once a day with a leash. The end result of all of this is that she is a very scared dog now, and also very thin. I have taken things in hand now and let her out without the leash and her spirits have dramatically lifted. However, she is still very scared and jumpy and might still runaway if it wasn't for the fence that we have put up now. These are the 2 problems I would like to solve. I want her to be a strong, fierce and happy dog. I also do not want her to run the moment she gets the chance or when she sees other dogs. Can you help me?

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
959 Dog owners recommended

Hello Jacqueline, In order for her to not want to leave your home her existence overall needs to be providing the affection, mental and physical exercise, and safe environment she needs. Right now she is likely trying to run because some or all of those needs aren't being met. If you can, I would work on meeting those needs, which it sounds like you are wanting to. In addition to meeting her basic needs, I would work on helping her associate coming to you with good things again, rewarding with treats whenever she approaches you while on a thirty foot training leash and padded back clip harness. Walk around the yard with her wearing that and as you change directions, if she chooses to follow, come up to you, or stay with you, reward her with a treat she really loves, like freeze dried liver. This helps her learn that choosing to come to you and be with you is safe and good. Once she enjoys following you again, then you can start more direct Come training, but I would start with the following to build trust first or it may not go well. To teach a more direct Come, check out the article I have linked below. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-whippet-to-recall Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
chachi
mixed labrador
2 Years
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
chachi
mixed labrador
2 Years

my dog is aggressive to other people pets

Alisha Smith
Alisha S., Dog Trainer
244 Dog owners recommended

Hello! Your dog needs to learn new behaviors to quell his fear. First we reduce his fear around new dogs, and then we begin adding cues such as “watch me” or “sit.” Research tells us that most leash reactivity is caused by fear, not by aggression. Dogs bark and lunge at other dogs to warn, “Go away! Go away!” Dogs fear other dogs because of genetic reasons, lack of socialization, fights when they were puppies, or any scary (to the dog) interaction with other dogs. Sometimes having low thyroid levels contributes to unwanted canine behavior. During this time, avoid any punishment for reactivity. Doing so will make her concerns even bigger. Dogs learn by making associations, and you want your dog to associate other dogs with pleasant things — never punishment. The first step is to reframe what an oncoming dog means to your dog. From a safe distance — your dog determines the distance, not you — have your leashed dog view another dog. As the new dog comes into view, drop a lot of enticing meat treats just in front of your dog’s nose. Ignore any hysterics for now, but back up and create more space if your dog is unwilling to eat. This part is hard for humans — I understand. It helps to see your dog’s behavior for what it most likely is: fear vs. disobedience. The training reinforcer MUST be a great one, such as real meat. It is critical that the appearance of the new dog causes meat to fall from the sky. When the other dog is out of your dog’s view, all treats stop. We want your dog to predict that other dogs near him means that YUMMY FOOD will appear! As you are reframing your dog’s opinion of seeing other leashed dogs, be careful where you take your dog, and be protective of what she is exposed to. One fight can create a reactive dog. Consider not walking your dog for 30 days as you reprogram her opinions of other dogs. Instead, sit on your front porch or in your garage (or somewhere out of the way if those two options aren't possible) with your dog on leash, and practice treating every time another dog comes into your dog’s line of sight. During this time, engage your dog’s mind with mind puzzles, obedience work, and fun stuff like games in the house or yard. You know you have made great progress when your dog sees another dog, and he turns his head away from the once-threatening dog and looks into your eyes, expecting a treat. Once your dog is looking at his (former) trigger and then looking expectantly up at you for a treat, you can begin to put this skill on cue. Tell your dog "watch me" every time you see another dog approaching. Your end goal is for your dog to see another dog, and remain calm, looking at you for guidance. And this will be either continuing your walk, or being allowed to interact with the other dog. Please let me know if you have additional questions. Thanks for writing in!

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Question
Elsa
German Shepherd
2 Months
0 found helpful
Question
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Elsa
German Shepherd
2 Months

Is it okay to tie her at night ?

And how to make her stop barking ?

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
959 Dog owners recommended

Hello Shriyal, That depends on several things. Is the leash chew proof? If not, pup can likely chew through it and may even ingest pieces of it while you are sleeping. I don't recommend heavy chain leashes for puppies though. Leashes like VirChewLy are more comfortable for chewers. Where is pup being tied? If pup is outside, they could be attacked by an animal or entangled in the leash. If pup is inside but in another room, they are safer in general but might still be entangled in the leash, something like VirChewLy will be less likely to do this than a normal leash but still not completely safe. If pup is in your room where you can check on them, the leash is a safe material, and you have no other option, I would still not recommend it but it would be a better option than letting pup roam free and chew things they could swallow and hurt themselves with. A much better option is to use an exercise pen for dogs who will be using an indoor potty at night, or a crate for dogs who will be outside potty trained. Check out the Surprise method from the article I have linked below for introducing a crate or exercise pen. Surprise method: https://wagwalking.com/training/like-a-crate Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Riley
Boston Terrier
12 Years
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Riley
Boston Terrier
12 Years

Changed Rileys diet per vet because he is 7-8 lbs overweight. We started giving him Fat Dog dry food as recommended. Now it seems he is constantly hungry. He starts barking at 4-5 am everyday. I get up out of bed and give him 1 dinner tablespoon of canned pumpkin, 1 dinner tblsp cottage cheese and 1/2-2/3 cup dry food. Starts all over at 2:00pm with barking. So by 4-5am he’s naturally hungry again, hence the barking. So now we are feeding him 3 x’s a day, but that doesn’t work either. Any suggestions?
Wefcrf@aol.com

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
959 Dog owners recommended

Hello Cindy, Are you feeding the pumpkin and cottage cheese for the nutritional value or for flavor? If only for flavor, I would remove those things since that makes the food more enticing. If it's for nutritional reasons, keep it though. You want the food at non-meal times to be boring as much as you can in general. If he is getting any treats during the day, replace those with kibble instead to decrease the non-nutritious calories there so that you aren't having to cut back any more than necessary from his dry food meals. I would also look into another diet food per your vet's approval and recommendation. I am not a vet so check with those who know more about your dog's current health needs. Foods that contain more protein and cut back on things like carbs might be able to keep him more full without increasing weight. If pup has something like kidney disease going on though, a diet too high in protein could be a bad idea though, so ensure your next food option is safe at his age. You could also explore safe ways to exercise him more with your vet's approval, so that pup is gaining a bit of muscle to burn more calories in general, and you don't have to cut back on the food as much for pup to still loose weight. If you have access to swimming that's especially good for older dogs, but even just more frequent walks can help. Whatever pup is eating, make sure it's nutritionally valuable. Nutritionally deficient foods can leave pup feeling more hungry...Think of the person who eats super health and is thin, but because what they eat is nutritious, full of things like health fats and fruits and vegetables, they don't have to keep track of calories to feel full while staying thin and healthy. Opposed to someone who doesn't eat healthy but just cuts back on calories, and feels hungry while dieting and has to limit quantities more. Finally, if you know pup is getting what they need, pup has learned that when they pester you for food you will give it, so pup is going to ask for food because that is working for them. I recommend you teach Quiet and Place, then make pup leave the area if they continue barking after you have told them to stop. Quiet command: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bark Place: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O75dyWITP1s Out - which means leave the area: https://www.petful.com/behaviors/how-to-teach-a-dog-the-out-command/ Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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