Give Your Dog Some People Food!

Yes, I said it. In fact, I say it and do it almost every day. I'm quite surprised at the number of clients who are afraid to give their dog "people food" and who are proud to have been keeping their dog from it.

First off, the very best dog food is made from wholesome, REAL people food. If your dog food and dog treats are filled with things that human's wouldn't eat, you might want to re-think your dog's diet! High-quality dog foods are made with things like chicken, beef, fish, cheese, veggies and fruits that could have just as easily landed on a human's dinner table. When's the last time you served chicken meal or animal digest for dinner? Do you even know what that is?

Most trainers use so-called "people food" as training treats or as ingredients to make their own training treats. For one thing, they're often much healthier than those packaged for dogs. For another, they're often far more motivating! Nothing beats pea-sized pieces of chicken breast, cheese, hot dogs (the good kind), roast beef, dried squid, smoked salmon...the list is huge!

I'm a huge fan of giving dogs people food in addition to a high-quality kibble. My own dogs get a bit of whatever we had for dinner the night before. They get a little less kibble and some people food in order to provide variety and extra nutrition. Keep in mind, this is only good for the dog if YOU are eating a healthy diet! (See link below for foods your dog should not eat.)

So, what's the perceived harm in giving dogs people food? Two things: encouraging begging for food from people, and causing dogs to become overweight. The second issue is really a matter of portions, just as it is for people. Of course your dog is going to be overweight if you over-feed and under-exercise, regardless of what kind of food they are eating.

As for the begging business, I'm going to say it's rubbish. Yep, I really am. Let's think about this logically, shall we? Do you suppose dog's really understand that the food coming from a bag is "dog food" and the food coming from the fridge is "people food"? I would venture to guess that in a dog's world, food is food. In fact, the stuff that comes out of the litter box or garbage can is often considered food!

IF a dog only ever receives their food from a stuffed toy, stuffed bone or in a bowl, then that is where the dog is going to expect food to come from. What kind of food it is doesn't matter. What matters is that the dog understands the human decides when, where and how the dog will get it's food.

IF food is sometimes received from a human's plate as the human is sitting at a table or on the couch, then the dog will wait, stare and sometimes whine for this event to happen again. Why wouldn't he? There is the human on the couch with one of those round things in their hands. In the past, this scenario has resulted in food. The smart thing to do is to stick close and figure out a way to make it happen again.

What I'm saying here is that if you regularly sat at your dining table with a plate full of kibble and gave your dog a few bites here and there, your dog would regularly sit next to you at said kitchen table and beg for food. It doesn't matter if you are giving the dog kibble, canned dog food, salami or cat poop.

So, go ahead and use chicken, cheese and Cheerios for training treats.  You can use your last few bites of dinner to train "sit". You just have to pay attention to the context.  Take your plate to the kitchen, put the food in a dog dish, a bait bag or in your hand, move away from where you were eating and do some training.  You can also put the left-overs in the fridge and do some training later to further distance your eating from a plate from giving your dog food.

A warning here! There are some foods that dog's should never have, like onions, chocolate and grapes. You can find a list of those foods here: http://www.peteducation.com/article.cfm?c=2+1659&aid=1030

Also, there ARE plenty of great training treats and dog foods out there made from wholesome, human grade, "people food". Read the ingredients on packages to make sure that your dog is getting more than just "dog food", but a high-quality FOOD.

Disclaimer: I am not a nutritionist or a veterinarian. Every dog is different and may suffer from food sensitivities or allergies. Your dog's diet should always be discussed with a veterinarian, coupled with your own research into a healthy canine diet.

 

Comments

Great advice Cindy. The only thing I would I would be leery of ,is discussing food with a vet. Too much lack of knowledge here and too much conflict of interest.  The best dog food site I have found is The Dog Food Project.

 

I'd like to add that often, "people food" treats are much less expensive than "doggy treats!"

Occasionally, you can find chicken breasts at the grocery for around $1.50/lb.  I've yet to find such healthy training treats at such a reasonable cost!  Single-ingredient meat treats are often great for dogs with allergies as well.

Casey Lomonaco, KPA CTP

Rewarding Behaviors Dog Training

www.rewardingbehaviors.com

GREAT points. I also feed my dogs "real" food regularly. I do admit that my dogs beg HOWEVER it is because I can't train my husband not to share. VBG They beg from him because they know I won't give them anything unless I use their bowl or we are training. I don't call it begging, I call it waiting. (If I sit here and wait I might get something.)

Tail wags, Marie http://k-9solutionsdogtraininginc.blogspot.com

Hi Cindy

Love it, I agree so many owners come to class being told or believing that they shouldn't use any "human food" as it will spoil their dog or they will expect it and beg all the time. Cody gets human food daily, he gets cheese, yogurt, chicken, lamb, hotdogs, veggies... (list goes on) but when I eat my meals he never begs if anything he goes finds a chew or toy and heads to his bed and keeps him self busy. Like you say i think this is because from day one he has learn't no type of food or attention some from me and my plate of food.  

I find a lot of people also dont like to give their dog food when they eat or before they eat, do you find the same?

They believe usually because they have been mis-informed that they must only feed the dog after they eat. I find with some dogs that if i feed them before I eat then they go occupy them selves after and dont bother you or alternately like you suggest i stuff their dinner in a chew toy and give it to them just before I start to eat and guess what, they are so busy working for their own food I eat in peace lol

Best wishes for new year ahead!

Chirag

 

I enjoyed a wonderful presentation by Dr. Doug Kneuven, a holistic veterinarian, at the APDT conference. He suggested adding cut up vegetables to your dog's diet. My Yellow Lab now enjoys everything from chopped bell peppers, to shredded carrots, to chopped apples. I always give them to him either in his dog bowl or in his kong. And we used the shredded carrot strips during training. The produce is all organic and it's really great to know that he thinks of carrots as a reward!

Lisa Spector Co-Creator of Through a Dog’s Ear

I switched my dogs over to raw and or cooked food when my Beagle started having seizures and stomach problems years ago.  Since then she seizures rarely.  Her body can't handle processed food.  That's what really opened my eyes to how important it is to read labels and buy the best quality you can afford.  Human grade treats or healthy human treats is what I use for training.

For me it's also less expensive not buying dog food, as we can always use help clearing out our fridge.  Mind you we eat healthy diets as well.  Their bloodwork always comes back "excellent" so there's nothing lacking in their diet.

I will sometimes buy dehydrated meat/veggie treats if I'm in a rush, but mostly use the human kind.  When we hike, I like convenience of opening up my fridge and taking whatever is in there plus... the fact that we can share the cut up fruit / veggies or even organic turkey peperoni, or peanut butter sandwich rather than having to pack additional stuff for them is nice.

I find it so funny to hear people say that you shouldn't feed them 'human food"...what do you think is "SUPPOSED" to be in their dry or canned dogfood?

cheers,

kate

 

 

happy-houndz.blogspot.com cheers, kate

In fact, I tell my students there is no difference between dog food or people food, or at least there shouldn't be!  We should be feeding our dogs ingredients made from the highest quality as the food we eat.  And dogs wouldn't know it is "people food" unless you are feeding it to them from your plate!  If you feed it to them from the very same treat bag you use for all their other treats, guess what?  They'll think it's just the best treat you've ever given them and will do whatever you ask them to for MORE!

 

Director of Training and Behavior Counseling Pup 'N Iron Host of Dog Sports and Performance Network on Pet Life Radio

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