I can’t tell you how many times I have declared, “No more table food for the dogs!” Only to slowly give into those big puppy dog eyes and sneak one of my dogs part of my dinner. There’s something about finding their cute little faces tucked under my arm or staring straight at me, while they lick their lips, that I cannot resist. And because I love my dogs so much I think it’s okay to give them whatever they want, but we all know feeding dogs table scraps isn’t the best idea, especially if it’s on a regular basis.
I have justified that most of the food I give them is actually really healthy for them — eggs, sweet potatoes, carrots, broccoli, kale — but becoming dependent on table food can cause real issues; refusing to eat regular dog food, unwanted habits of begging, raiding the trash and obesity. In fact, it’s estimated that over 50% of dogs are overweight or obese! Most owners don’t recognize it, but we can’t turn a blind eye to the tragic effects of obesity in dogs. Here are the most common consequences.
- Damage to joints
- Difficulty breathing
- Liver damage
- Heat intolerance
- Decreased stamina
- Decreased immune system
- Increased risk of cancer
- Decreased length of life
I know it’s hard to imagine that feeding your pup a few bites of your dinner every night will result in him developing diabetes or liver damage, but the truth is: it can. And over time, it most likely will! We’re all guilty of it at some point or another, especially when their faces are so cute eating next to you! But it would be ideal for you and your dog to stop the habit of feeding table food now!
Here are some ways that can help.
- Stop feeding your dog immediately It sounds simple, but it’s not! These four-legged pups of ours know exactly how to get what they want when they want it. But if we are truly committed to breaking this habit, this will be the first step. We need to stop feeding them any table scraps immediately. Right this second! It won’t be easy at first, but soon your dog will learn there are no rewards for begging.
- Ignore when your dog is begging If you want to teach your dog that begging will not result in getting him the attention he wants, ignore him when he starts begging! Don’t talk to him, look at him, or pet him.. Any amount of attention will strengthen his belief that begging will get him what he wants.
- Redirect your dog elsewhere Teaching your dog to “go to his spot and stay” is helpful in more ways than one, but especially when creating new habits during dinner time. If you can designate a spot for him, he will learn to occupy himself by chewing a bone or playing with a toy in that area. This will help to keep him busy when you eat, thus eliminating the begging!
- Don’t let guilt get in the way You love your dog and he knows it! Don’t feel guilty for setting up boundaries when it comes to eating human food. Loving your dog also means doing what’s best for him, so try to remember why you are refusing him table scraps and hopefully that helps to ease some of your guilt.
- Be consistent and patient Doing something once or twice won’t change anything. Be consistent! Consistency is the key when training your dog. Stick to your guns and make sure everyone else in your house is on board too. Also, be patient. Habits don’t change overnight but with each day that passes, your dog will start to understand dinner time for YOU doesn’t mean dinner time for HIM!