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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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

Effective
0 Votes
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

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 and Success Stories

Question
Lucky
Labrador Retriever
3 Months
2 found helpful
Question
2 found helpful
Lucky
Labrador Retriever
3 Months

My puppy demand barks for food or to go inside when on a tieout. He bites us when we play with him, chews things up, and etc.

Every time I catch him doing something wrong, I clap to startle him, but he thinks it's playtime, so he drags the object he's not supposed to chew with him, and starts running from me. From there on, I have to catch him and put him onto a leash, and hook him to the wall.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
707 Dog owners recommended

Hello Kien, For the barking for food use the "Bed" method and also teach him the "Quiet" command so that you can tell him "Quiet" when he barks, and discipline his disobedience and reward his obedience, rather than simply fussing at him or punishing him for something he does not understand. Make sure that you are not rewarding him for the barking by giving him what he is barking for when he barks. Wait until he is quiet and does something you want him to do like "Sit" when he is being rude. Use the "Quiet" method found in the article below to teach "Quiet". https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bark Also, work on teaching him "Fetch", "Leave It", and "Drop It". When you are home to supervise him, attach a six-foot leash without a handle to him and let him drag it around the house. When he grabs something that he should not have, then tell him to "Drop It" or "Fetch", which means bring it to you. If he obeys, then reward him with a treat or one of his own favorite toys. If he tries to run away, then calmly step on the end of his leash and reel him in to you, so that you do not have to chase him and he will not think running away is fun. When you step on the leash and reel him in, stay very calm and boring. You want him to decide that taking things is boring. Expect him to need a lot of help learning not to chew on your things. Puppies, especially Retriever puppies, normally need to chew and carry things around in their mouths, especially while they are young and teething. Make sure that he has his own toys to chew on. Do not expect him not to chew at all. Give him something acceptable to chew instead. One great way to encourage him to chew on his own toys is to place his dog food into a bowl with water. Let it soak until the food turns into mush. Very loosely stuff a large Kong classic toy with the mush and then freeze it. Give these frozen Kongs to him when you need him to occupy himself or you need to crate him. You can also send him to his bed during meal times before he barks and give him a Kong to chew on during the meal. I highly recommend crating or placing him in a sturdy Exercise Pen with a tasty Kong when you cannot supervise him. Make sure you include the Kong because that will help him to learn to chew on his own toys and will keep him from becoming as bored and developing a bad barking habit while confined. You can also give him a food stuffed Kong while he is outside and bored before he begins barking. Try to be patient with him. All of the behaviors he is exhibiting are perfectly normal for a puppy his age, and training takes time. Look into Puppy classes in your area. Attending a puppy class will speed up some of his training. Look for one that includes commands like "Leave It", "Come", and puppy socialization. Also look into Ian Dunbar's free online resources. He is a highly respected trainer who started puppy kindergarten classes in the US fifty years ago and he has numerous free podcasts, articles, videos, and other resources for free or cheap online. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Halley
Mixed healer
11 Weeks
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Halley
Mixed healer
11 Weeks

She chases the cat. Won't stop unless we physically force her to. Over and over. And if the cat runs outside she goes after her, won't stop on command

Darlene Stott
Darlene Stott
Dog Trainer and Groomer
92 Dog owners recommended

Thank you for the question. The fact that Halley is chasing the cat is not surprising because the Heeler is a dog that has a predatory instinct, as well as the innate love of herding. However, Halley is young so should be able to be taught to not chase the cat. Obedience will be key to solving the problem. I suggest that you work every day on commands like sit, stay, come, and down. Keep the sessions fun and not too long (due to Halley's age) but work with her consistently every day. Once she knows she has to obey the commands, she'll be less likely to chase the cat. (Be sure to reward Halley as you train so that listening is more valuable than chasing the cat.) It's important for the safety of your cat that there is a safe place to get away from Halley when needed. This is a good article with video about introducing a Heeler and a cat safely: https://barkhow.com/are-blue-heelers-good-with-cats/. As well, take a look here:https://wagwalking.com/training/not-chase-cats and https://wagwalking.com/training/ignore-cats. Also https://wagwalking.com/training/accept-a-cat and https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-german-shepherd-to-not-chase-cats. Good luck and stay consistent!

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Question
Bonnie
Terrier cross?
13 Years
2 found helpful
Question
2 found helpful
Bonnie
Terrier cross?
13 Years

She will bark, whine and scratch at you for food up to 1.30 hours before she is due to be fed in for tea time and will do the same when she wants a walk. She has different barks but this one is especially piercing so it’s impossible to focus on anything while she is trying to attract your attention

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

Hello! I will give you information on how to correct barking. But first, because of her age, I wanted to address that she may need a change to her feeding schedule. The first thing that comes to mind is blood sugar regulation. You may need to divide her meal time into 3x a day if you are currently feeding her 2x a day. If you are certain she is just "acting out" so to speak, then you can try the tips below to correct her barking. Attention Seeking Or Request Barking This type of barking is a form of expression which often developed through positive reinforcement from the owner. If your dog barks to let you know he needs to go relieve himself, this is usually a good thing. When he barks because he wants your dinner or to play or go for a walk, this is less positive. However, it’s unlikely that he became a noisy, insistent pest on his own; your family likely had a hand in this during his upbringing. For example, perhaps you thought it was cute when he barked at you while you were cooking chicken and you slipped a piece to him. Dogs are pretty good associative learners and if they make the connection that barking equals food, they won’t stop just because you no longer find it cute. To bring attention/request barking under control, you need to start by stopping–stop rewarding the barking and stop paying attention to the barking. For this, borrowing a training method that helps to stop jumping up is good idea. When your dog barks for attention or for food, cross your arms and turn your back on him. If he continues, walk out of the room. Once he stops barking, call him to you, praise him, and fulfill his request, as long as it’s reasonable. However, if he is barking for food, do not reward him with food, treats, chews etc. This will simply reinforce begging and instead of barking, he will switch to pawing at you or some other attention getting behavior. If your dog only barks to let you know he has to go potty, you need to change the behavior. Train him to ring a bell hung on the back door, or install a dog door which allows him to go when he pleases. However you go about it, changing behavior is much tougher than preventing it in the first place. Please let me know if you have additional questions. Thanks for writing in!

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Question
Bonnie
Terrier cross?
13 Years
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Bonnie
Terrier cross?
13 Years

Sorry I already asked a question savour barking for food but I wondered whether u knew what to do about the fact she won’t go to the loo in her garden. Our backdoor is open all day so she can go out but she will only go in the park which means we have to take her on many walks a day incase she needs the loo which isn’t practical working from home

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

Hello! Because of her age, this may be a bit time consuming to correct. Also, the walking is time consuming, so I suppose you will have to weigh out all of the options and see what works best for you. Because you are wanting to change her routine, please keep in mind that it can take up to about 30 days before her behavior becomes consistent. Some of the information I am sending you might sound a little remedial, but sometimes wiping the slate clean and starting fresh is the best route to go when you are re-training a behavior. I am going to send you information on both potty training and crate training. If you don't see progress within about a week or so with the potty training, it might be wise to implement the use of a crate to aid in this process so she doesn't start going inside your home. And please excuse the verbiage of this article. Most of the time, it is sent to pet owners with puppies. Potty training: Know Your Pup. As you spend time with your puppy, learn your puppy’s love language. Just as some people prefer gifts, touch, or time spent together, puppies can be the same way. Some puppies love praise or pets, while others prefer treats. As you get to know your puppy, consider what reward your puppy loves the most. Create a Daily Schedule. It is best to have a routine for your puppy. A schedule helps them understand when to eat, play, and “go to the bathroom.” Your puppy should go out frequently and the routine should be the same every time. When? Start the day by taking your puppy outside, and repeating based on age and ability. They should also go out after napping, chewing, playing, and within 10 to 15 minutes of eating. Although some puppies can sleep for seven hours, it is important to set an alarm and take your pup out during the night. When you do, don’t make a fuss about it. Quietly take them outside with minimal stimulation and light. Praise them if they go to the bathroom and gently return them to their bed or crate. You don’t want them to get stimulated and ready to play in the middle of the night! As you get to know your puppy, you will become aware of their individual habits. Click here to learn more about house training schedules for puppies. Where? Take your puppy to a specific area to urinate or defecate. Be consistent. You can create an area by using urine-soaked paper or bowel movements to help create an aroma to stimulate your puppy. How? Take your puppy out on a leash so they can focus on the desired activity. This will help prevent them from wandering off to play. Once your puppy is in the selected area, use your verbal cue, such as “Hurry Up,” “Poopies,” “Go tinkle,” or any phrase your puppy responds to. What? Know the signs that your puppy has to go to the bathroom. Every animal may have a different “I gotta go” gesture, which often include restlessness, sniffing around, circling, scratching at the door, barking, and, eventually, squatting. At the first sign that your pup has to go, calmly and quickly take them outside to their bathroom spot. Deal with Accidents. Accidents are a normal part of house training a puppy. What to Do If you see your puppy in the process of urinating or defecating inappropriately, calmly and quickly interrupt them in the act. Tell them to stop (either by a jarring sound or command), and immediately take them to an appropriate location for elimination. After your puppy goes to the bathroom, lavishly praise them and offer a treat. Thoroughly clean up accidents, so your puppy is not attracted to this area again. Create a consistent feeding and watering schedule. Depending on the age of your puppy, they will eat three to four times a day. A consistent feeding routine can create a regular bathroom schedule. Take away water about 2 hours before bedtime. Learn more about ideal dog schedules here. What NOT to Do Don’t punish your puppy when they have an accident. At that point, it is too late. When a puppy has an accident in the house and they walk away, within seconds they have already forgotten about what they did. Taking them to the scene of the crime and yelling and/or rubbing their nose in it does not help and, in fact, can harm your puppy! Supervise. The best thing you can do is to prevent accidents and the best way to do this is to supervise your puppy at all times. You can tether your puppy to your waist with a five or six-foot leash and carefully observe them for signs that they need to go to the bathroom. If you can’t supervise, then crate or confine your puppy. The more accidents your puppy has in the house, the more confusing it will be for them and this can delay house training. Reward, Reward, Reward. It is important to give your puppy a reward for their good behavior. This can be for commands such as sitting and coming to you, or for appropriately eliminating outside. In a puppy, a reward can be a couple kibbles of puppy food or a treat, such as a small piece of meat. The treat should be exciting for them and only available as a result of good behavior. Crate training can take days or weeks, depending on your dog's age, temperament and past experiences. It's important to keep two things in mind while crate training: The crate should always be associated with something pleasant and training should take place in a series of small steps. Don't go too fast. Step 1: Introduce your dog to the crate Place the crate in an area of your house where the family spends a lot of time, such as the family room. Put a soft blanket or towel in the crate. Take the door off and let the dog explore the crate at their leisure. Some dogs will be naturally curious and start sleeping in the crate right away. If yours isn't one of them: Bring them over to the crate and talk to them in a happy tone of voice. Make sure the crate door is open and secured so that it won't hit your dog and frighten them. Encourage your dog to enter the crate by dropping some small food treats nearby, then just inside the door, and finally, all the way inside the crate. If they refuse to go all the way in at first, that's OK; don't force them to enter. Continue tossing treats into the crate until your dog will walk calmly all the way into the crate to get the food. If they aren’t interested in treats, try tossing a favorite toy in the crate. This step may take a few minutes or as long as several days. Step 2: Feed your dog meals in the crate After introducing your dog to the crate, begin feeding them their regular meals near the crate. This will create a pleasant association with the crate. If your dog is readily entering the crate when you begin Step 2, place the food dish all the way at the back of the crate. If they remain reluctant to enter, put the dish only as far inside as they will readily go without becoming fearful or anxious. Each time you feed them, place the dish a little further back in the crate. Once your dog is standing comfortably in the crate to eat their meal, you can close the door while they’re eating. The first time you do this, open the door as soon as they finish their meal. With each successive feeding, leave the door closed a few minutes longer, until they’re staying in the crate for 10 minutes or so after eating. If they begin to whine to be let out, you may have increased the length of time too quickly. Next time, try leaving them in the crate for a shorter time period. If they do whine or cry in the crate, don’t let them out until they stop. Otherwise, they'll learn that the way to get out of the crate is to whine, so they'll keep doing it. Step 3: Practice with longer crating periods After your dog is eating their regular meals in the crate with no sign of fear or anxiety, you can confine them there for short time periods while you're home. Call them over to the crate and give them a treat. Give them a command to enter, such as "crate." Encourage them by pointing to the inside of the crate with a treat in your hand. After your dog enters the crate, praise them, give them the treat and close the door. Sit quietly near the crate for five to 10 minutes and then go into another room for a few minutes. Return, sit quietly again for a short time and then let them out. Repeat this process several times a day, gradually increasing the length of time you leave them in the crate and the length of time you're out of sight. Once your dog will stay quietly in the crate for about 30 minutes with you mostly out of sight, you can begin leaving them crated when you're gone for short time periods and/or letting them sleep there at night. This may take several days or weeks. Step 4, Part A: Crate your dog when you leave After your dog can spend about 30 minutes in the crate without becoming anxious or afraid, you can begin leaving them crated for short periods when you leave the house. Put them in the crate using your regular command and a treat. You might also want to leave them with a few safe toys in the crate. Vary the moment during your "getting ready to leave" routine that you put your dog in the crate. Although they shouldn't be crated for a long time before you leave, you can crate them anywhere from five to 20 minutes prior to leaving. Don't make your departures emotional and prolonged—they should be matter-of-fact. Praise your dog briefly, give them a treat for entering the crate and then leave quietly. When you return home, don't reward your dog for excited behavior by responding to them in an enthusiastic way. Keep arrivals low-key to avoid increasing their anxiety over when you will return. Continue to crate your dog for short periods from time to time when you're home so they don't associate crating with being left alone. Step 4, Part B: Crate your dog at night Put your dog in the crate using your regular command and a treat. Initially, it may be a good idea to put the crate in your bedroom or nearby in a hallway, especially if you have a puppy. Puppies often need to go outside to eliminate during the night and you'll want to be able to hear your puppy when they whine to be let outside. Older dogs should also initially be kept nearby so they don't associate the crate with social isolation. Once your dog is sleeping comfortably through the night with the crate near you, you can begin to gradually move it to the location you prefer, although time spent with your dog—even sleep time—is a chance to strengthen the bond between you and your pet. Potential problems Whining: If your dog whines or cries while in the crate at night, it may be difficult to decide whether they’re whining to be let out of the crate, or whether they need to be let outside to eliminate. If you've followed the training procedures outlined above, then your dog hasn't been rewarded for whining in the past by being released from their crate. If that is the case, try to ignore the whining. If your dog is just testing you, they'll probably stop whining soon. Yelling at them or pounding on the crate will only make things worse. If the whining continues after you've ignored them for several minutes, use the phrase they associate with going outside to eliminate. If they respond and become excited, take them outside. This should be a trip with a purpose, not play time. If you're convinced that your dog doesn't need to eliminate, the best response is to ignore them until they stop whining. Don't give in; if you do, you'll teach your dog to whine loud and long to get what they want. If you've progressed gradually through the training steps and haven't done too much too fast, you'll be less likely to encounter this problem. If the problem becomes unmanageable, you may need to start the crate training process over again.

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Question
Wally
Mutt
4 Months
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Wally
Mutt
4 Months

Wally has started barking and whining for food. He goes into the kitchen, stares up, and just barks. I live in an apartment near other tenants and feel so bad about the noise, so I need to change this behavior fast. If I ignore him, his barking will bother the neighbors, if I give him what he wants, it will reinforce this bad behavior, so I am stuck. Please help!

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

Hello! While ignoring is the best route to go with this, you stated you can not do that, so I will give you an alternative solution. Your best bet with this one is to distract him with training commands if it isn't meal time and he is behaving this way. If he goes to his bowl and it isn't meal time, call him to you and start going through any basic commands he knows. Sit, stay, etc. This provides his brain with stimulation, as well as passively puts you back in charge. Do this for about 5 minutes, or until he calms down. If it is meal time, simply ask him for a sit and then feed him if he is quiet. Doing this every time you feed him will start to teach him to not only be quiet, but to sit by his bowl to be fed. Please let me know if you have any additional questions. Thank you for writing in!

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