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9 Crystal Clear Signs Your Dog Is Hungry

Signs Of A Hungry Dog

When people get hungry, their stomachs sound out an embarrassing rumble. 

But what about dogs? 

Do they also have hunger pangs? 

Keep reading to discover:

  • 9 crystal clear signs your dog is hungry.
  • 3 ways doggos learn to tell us that  they want to eat.
  • Precisely why you shouldn’t let dogs scavenge for food.
  • The easiest way to correct a hungry dog from stealing food.
  • And many more…

How can you tell if your dog is hungry?

You can tell if your dog is hungry when they bark or whine at you. They’ll also stare at their bowl or stay near the feeding area. Hungry dogs often counter-surf or get into the trash can. Another way is begging by pawing at you or following you around.

9 signs of hungry dog

#1: They “tell” you

Dogs don’t have the vocal equipment for forming words. 

But they do make up for it with their own way of telling us. 

Especially in times when they’re hungry.

They get restless a few minutes before feeding time.

Sometimes dogs have their “Hooman, I’m hungry!” demand bark.

And it’s different from their happy or agitated vocalizations.

“How can dog parents tell the difference?”

Most of it is because they’ve been with their pooch for a long time. 

Dog parents know the little signals that their doggos send when hungry. 

One story from the Internet goes like this…

The dogs of one dog mom start to get restless 30 minutes before feeding time.

And the closer it got, the louder their barks. 

Sometimes her dogs would sit near their food bowls and howl. 

#2: Whining at the sight of food

You can notice this during times when you forget to feed your dog during their schedule. 

They’ll whine when they see that you’re preparing dinner. 

Even if it’s not your dog’s food, they’ll do this. 

As if to say,

“Don’t forget bout my meal, hooman!”

My friend’s family has 5 dogs in their home. 

Everyday there’s a set schedule for treat time. 

All the dogs would gather in the living room for their yummy treats. 

For all of them, it’s automatic that they sit for the food. 

My friend’s dogs are well-behaved and wait for their turn. They also don’t steal others’ treats.

But 1 dog isn’t such an angel.

She’s a beautiful Husky, named Yuki. 

She hates waiting. And she lets my friend know. 

When all the other doggos are patient, Yuki whines and whines. 

Especially when my friend doesn’t give her a treat right away.

It starts with soft whines and tippy tappy paws. 

And if she’s the last to get the food, it gets worse.

Her whole reaction escalates to full-on howls and “Awoos”.

But what’s funny is that she never gets out of the “Sit”  position.

#3: Staring at their bowl

A Dog Is Hungry When They're Staring At Their Bowl

Do you find your pooch holding a staring contest with their bowl?

And it’s as if they’re willing the food to come bubbling out of it. 

This is a pretty clear sign that your dog’s hungry. 

They know that it’s where their food gets placed. 

And they may also have learned that staring at their bowl gets your attention. 

If they do it long enough, then you get the message.

One dog parent on the Internet shares that her pooch ups the game. 

The dog lets her know he’s hungry by dancing in circles around his hooman. 

Once he has her attention, he sits near the dog food container. He stares at it. Then he looks at his bowl. 

The staring switches back and forth with such purpose.

That his mom can only laugh while she’s filling his bowl.

#4: Staying near the feeding area

This can happen if you feed your dog in the exact same place.

And they loiter about when feeding times draw near. 

Some dogs even take it a step further by bringing their bowl to their dog parents. 

Take a look at this poodle with lots of attitude:

Indeed some dogs make it clearly known that they want to eat. 

They’ve learned a lot of ways to communicate with us:

  • Staring at their bowl.
  • Staying near the feeding area
  • Picking up and throwing their bowl.

It makes you wonder. How did they learn this?

Learned behavior

Most of these actions are learned behavior. 

Your dog knows that it’s what gets you to feed them. 

Dogs learn through associations. 

And this study tells us that when it seems like they read our minds, it’s due to:

  • Context.
  • Specific cues. 
  • Previous experience. 

Dogs use a combination of these to form their responses to human behavior. 

One of my friends says that she sees this when training her dog, Hela. 

That moment when Hela’s cogs start turning when learning a new trick. 

As if she’s saying,

“Oooh! I get it now. This is what I’m supposed to do.” 

#5: Counter surfing

Thanksgiving just happened. 

Does your household cook a lot for the holiday? 

This may be a regular problem for the family.

Is your pooch in the habit of taking things that don’t belong to them?

Imagine this. 

You just finished cooking the turkey. And set it down on the counter. 

As you turn around for a minute, a blur passes by. 

And you look to find that the poor turkey’s missing a leg. 

What would be your reaction? 

This is counter surfing. It’s annoying, right? 

You put in all the work into cooking for your pooch to ruin it.

Yelling and screaming,

“Put the turkey leg down!”

Isn’t going to help much. They’ll just run further and eat it faster. This puts them in danger of choking.

Your dog can also eat something toxic or accidentally eat wrapping plastic. 

“What can I do to stop this?”

Victoria Stilwell suggests these techniques:

  1. Block access to the kitchen with baby gates.
  2. Put your dog in another room when you’re cooking.
  3. Try tethering your dog to you. So that you can watch them.
  4. Teach your dog to “Stay” behind an imaginary line.
  5. Catch your dog in the act of stealing food and tell them to “Leave it”.

These methods set your pooch up for success. 

It lets them know that it’s not okay to jump on the counter. And that the kitchen is off-limits.

And of course, always reward your dog for good behavior. 

This may be in the form of:

  • Praise.
  • Treats.
  • Attention. 

Any of these and your dog is sure to love you even more.

#6: Getting into the garbage

They Get Into The Garbage

Upending the trash and counter surfing are forms of self-rewarding behaviors. 

These are things that your dog does to fulfill a need. 


Chew some shoes = Not bored anymore


Find food in the garbage can = not hungry. 

And in your dog’s mind, it’s “Problem solved!”.

But it’s not. 

Self-rewarding behaviors can only lead to more problems in the future. 

Your dog forgets the boundaries between good and bad manners. 

Prevent this from happening by:

  • Keeping garbage cans out of reach. 
  • Throwing trash in an outside dumpster. 
  • Blocking access to the location of garbage cans. 

Note: Be consistent with this. It will only take one experience for your dog to learn the “joys” of rooting around the garbage can.

#7: Begging with puppy dog eyes

To be fair, who has never given in to those sweet doggy eyes? 

There must be at least one time. 

My friend freely admits doing this with her Pug, Gigi.

Those big black eyes and soft whines always broke her walls down (not that she was trying all that hard).

Of course, now that Gigi’s older and my friend has learned her lesson. 

It’s scheduled feedings and no table food. Plus, daily exercise of course.

“How does this benefit dogs?”

Doing just these 3 things helps your dog from getting obese. 

Scheduled feedings allow you portion control. And this helps you to control their weight. 

Don’t just leave lots of food for your dog (free-feeding). There’s no way of knowing if your pooch ate the right amount.

Next, don’t feed your dog table food. This tends to contain more salt and fat than dogs need. 

Instead, AKC suggests adding fiber-rich food to their meal.

Such as:

  • Celery.
  • Apples.
  • Carrots.
  • Broccoli.
  • Blueberries.

Add these slowly to their meals. You don’t want to cause an upset stomach for your pooch.

#8: Pawing or nosing at you

These behaviors are 2 of the delightful ways canines communicate with humans.

They do it because they want your attention. 

Pawing at you is their way of saying,

“Me hungry. Gib me food, hooman.”

If their wet nose touches your legs before mealtimes, then better start filling their bowls.

But dogs also do these to you because they:

  • Want to play. 
  • Demand pets.
  • Show empathy.

Read next: 7 Reasons Why Your Dog Hits You With Its Paw + 3 Tips

#9: They follow you around

Another clear sign of a hungry dog. 

Your dog sees you as the provider of food and treats. 

So their behavior of following at your heel isn’t just because they like you. 

It’s also a way to show that they’re expecting you to fill their bowls. 

Now, don’t start feeling like a vending machine. 

It’s a learned behavior. And our dogs learned it from puppyhood. 

Most of them would follow momma dog around for a chance to eat. 

Even if their mom snapped at them to wait. 

Do you find it annoying? 

Then here’s what you can do:

Counter conditioning

Teach your dog a command to do when they want food. 

You can teach them to sit by their feeding bowls and wait. 

Or to lay on their mats before you let them eat. 

This is counter-conditioning. You’re helping your dog learn a new behavior (sit or lie down) in response to a stimulus (feeding time).

You might also want to check out: 13 Reasons Why Your Dog Walks in Circles Around You + Tips