Should I Ignore My Dog When I Eat? Do’s and Don’ts

As a responsible dog owner, you’ve probably faced the adorable, pleading eyes of your furry companion while trying to enjoy a meal. 

It’s a common scenario, and you may wonder whether you should ignore your dog or give in to those begging tactics. 

The relationship between humans and dogs during mealtime is a complex one, balancing the need for discipline and boundaries with the desire to show love and affection. 

In this article, we’ll explore the reasons behind your dog’s behavior during mealtime, the dos and don’ts of handling this situation, and the potential impact on your dog’s behavior and well-being. 

Understanding Your Dog’s Behavior

Dogs are social animals with strong pack instincts, and in the wild, they depend on the pack leader (you) to provide food and protect them. 

Therefore, when you sit down to eat, your dog’s natural instinct is to seek your attention and potentially gain access to the food. They may whine, bark, sit attentively, or use other tactics to get your focus. 

Understanding these instincts will help you address their behavior in a constructive manner.

The Importance of Consistency

One of the key elements of training and discipline is consistency. If you’ve ever given your dog a scrap from your plate once, they’ll remember it and expect it to happen again. 

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This inconsistent behavior can lead to persistent begging during mealtime, and you’ll find it difficult to enjoy a peaceful meal without your dog’s interference.

The Do’s: Positive Reinforcement and Training

Instead of ignoring your dog, focus on positive reinforcement and training. Here are some effective techniques to encourage good behavior during mealtime:

Create a Designated Spot: Train your dog to have a designated spot away from the dining area during meals. Use treats and praise to encourage them to stay there.

Use Distractions: Provide your dog with a special toy or treat during your mealtime. This will keep them occupied and satisfied, reducing the temptation to beg.

Reward Good Behavior: When your dog remains calm and well-behaved during meals, reward them afterward with praise and affection.

The Don’ts: Avoid Punishments and Feeding from the Table

Resist the urge to punish your dog for begging, as it may confuse them and lead to other behavioral issues. Additionally, feeding your dog directly from the table is not recommended, as it reinforces their begging behavior.

The Impact on Your Dog’s Behavior and Well-being

Ignoring your dog during mealtime and providing them with proper training can have significant benefits for their behavior and overall well-being. 

By establishing boundaries and consistent expectations, your dog will learn that mealtime is a time for you to enjoy your food without interference, and they can also enjoy their own food and treats at appropriate times.

The Role of High-Quality Dog Food

Ensuring your dog is well-fed with high-quality dog food is essential. When they receive a balanced and nutritious diet, they are less likely to feel the need to beg for human food, as they will be content with their own meals.

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The Importance of Communication and Family Involvement

Consistency is not just about your behavior, but also about your family members and other people who interact with your dog regularly. 

It’s essential to communicate the rules about mealtime behavior to everyone involved in your dog’s care. When everyone follows the same guidelines, your dog will quickly understand the expected behavior during meals.


In conclusion, the question of whether to ignore your dog when you eat has a clear answer: it’s essential to find a balance between discipline and love. 

Ignoring your dog during mealtime without providing any training or alternative activities may lead to frustration and confusion. Instead, opt for positive reinforcement, consistent training, and setting clear boundaries to help your dog understand the appropriate behavior during meals.

By implementing these strategies, you can foster a harmonious mealtime environment, allowing you to enjoy your food in peace while still showing your dog the love and attention they deserve at other times. 

Remember, a well-trained and contented dog makes for a happier and healthier canine companion.