It’s hard to resist those big, puppy eyes begging for food while you eat. You might find it cute at first, but dropping too many of those morsels can make your dog a picky eater. This obsession with human food can even go up to the point where your pet refuses to eat any other food.
If your dog becomes obsessed with human food, you must not give her any more of it. Stop giving any “human treats” or table scraps. Also, dog food is often bland, so you need to help her transition back to her food by adding some flavor to it. You should also train her to stop begging at the table.
It’s also essential to understand the root of her behavior to prevent it from happening again in the future. So in this article, we’ll discuss everything you need to know about dogs and human food.
Table of Contents
Let’s start with the most fundamental question in this regard: is it safe for dogs to eat human food? The answer is: yes and no.
You see, before commercial dog food entered the market, pet dogs had been living off human scrapes for centuries. It all began when a bunch of curious but non-aggressive wolves approached a group of people and made cute faces at them.
Many dog foods and treats are recalled every year, so people can’t be 100% sure whether the food in their pet’s bowl provides the best nutrition. As a result, more and more pet owners are starting to cook at home and give their dogs raw foods. Their intentions are pure—to keep their beautiful pets healthy and happy—but are table scraps really good for dogs?
The good news is that many healthy foods for humans are also suitable for dogs, with the keyword being many. Some foods are healthy for us but can be harmful—or even deadly—for our four-legged friends. And junk food is bad for humans and dogs alike, so don’t even think about throwing fries toward your dog.
Before you start giving your dog home-cooked or raw food, it’s essential to know what foods are safe and unsafe for your pet.
To get you started, here are ten common foods that dogs can eat without any problems:
- Apple slices
- Green beans
Just as there are healthy human foods for dogs, there are also foods that are harmful to our little friends and should never be given to them. They can cause all kinds of allergies, diseases, or even death.
These foods include:
- Soft drinks
- Grapes and raisins
- Raw eggs or meat
- Sugary food and drinks
This is just a short list to give you the idea that certain human foods are healthy for dogs, while others are dangerous and should be avoided at all costs.
I recommend you do further research and learn if the foods you commonly eat are safe for your pet or not. This article on Healthline is a great place to start. And you can also find many dog food recipes on YouTube and social media.
Lastly, it’s best to consult your vet before making any changes to your pet’s diet. A vet will help you make the change gradually, monitor your dog’s health, and get the right dietary balance.
So now you know that human food isn’t necessarily bad for your pet. In fact, a lot of them are even healthy. But what if you started giving your dog home-cooked food, and now she doesn’t even want to eat its regular dog food?
Firstly, not all dogs like human food; many are only interested in their own food. However, some dogs seem to like only human food. This can begin when they’re a pup or develop over time because their owners aren’t paying enough attention to what’s happening.
But you need not worry; if your dog has become obsessed with your food, this behavior can be fixed. It demands discipline and attention not just from the dog, but from your entire family as well.
To resolve this issue, we first need to understand why it exists in the first place. Let’s discuss some reasons why your dog may become obsessed with human food.
The first and most important consideration is whether your dog’s behavior has changed because of a medical issue. See a vet if your pet shows abnormal eating behavior or a change in her regular habits. It’s possible that a medical problem has changed your pet’s dietary preferences and is causing her to refuse dog food.
Before you try to feed your dog the usual kibble again, it’s crucial to rule out medical issues. If, for some reason, you aren’t satisfied with your vet’s findings, don’t hesitate to get a second opinion on the matter.
Once you’re confident that your pet is in good shape, you can conclude that you’re facing a behavioral issue. Let’s understand how it may have come about and what you can do about it.
Dogs, just like humans, are creatures of habit. They can grow accustomed to routines and develop habits much like us. If your dog likes something, and you give it to her repeatedly, she will soon form a habit and start expecting it.
It’s dinner time, and your entire family is at the table. You’re all sharing stories of the day and having a good time. After a few moments, you notice your pet Chop sneaking in and sitting by the table, staring at your food. You, being the kind-hearted pet owner you are, give him some food off the table. Chop’s happy, you’re happy, everyone’s happy.
The next day when you’re having snacks, Chop gets some of that tasty stuff too. And then again, and again, and again. You get the idea.
Do it enough times, and Chop will figure out that he can score a treat or two whenever you’re eating. All he has to do is come up and make sad faces or noises.
Chop begging for food when you’re eating is a problem, and it can easily lead to him refusing to eat his own food—which is a bigger issue. Next thing you know, he has become a picky eater and throws tantrums when he doesn’t get what he wants.
The “human treats” can be addictive for dogs because their only other choice is bland kibble. It’s understandable; if you had been eating the same food for years and someone offered you a juicy steak or chicken, you would undoubtedly take it.
Dogs are drawn to the smell of tasty food just like us (their sense of smell is even stronger). So, they’re naturally drawn to human food. But it’s up to us to teach them how to control and redirect their instinctive urges.
If your dog likes human food a lot, she may also begin to steal food off the counter or even open the refrigerator. People usually find counter surfing amusing, but it’s actually a very dangerous habit. What if the dog steals something poisonous (for her) or knocks over a boiling pan?
However, there is an effective solution to this problem. All you have to do is add some flavor to your pet’s meals (more on that in the next section). This won’t take your pet off the table on its own, but it’ll help her transition back to her regular diet since she’ll find it more interesting then.
It sounds strange, doesn’t it? We’re the ones who train our dogs, not the other way around. But as it turns out, dogs are very good at training people to get what they want. Dogs know we’ll pet them when they nudge us, give them treats when they whine, and take them out when they bark.
Dogs, like children, can understand that if they do X (beg, jump, stare), their owner will do Y (drop food, give a treat, etc.). So once your pet has tasted (and liked) the food off your table, she’ll start to beg for food when you’re eating, cooking, or having snacks.
She’ll do anything in her power to grab your attention and get you to drop some food for her. The more you share with her, the more she will understand that begging will get her tasty bites at certain times.
Sometimes, it can be challenging to break this bad habit, but it’s possible if you’re determined.
We’ve already discussed this phenomenon, but I wanted to come at it from your pet’s angle so that you know what goes on in her head.
As we’ve said, there are good human foods for your pet, and there are bad human foods for your pet. Unless you exactly know what you’re feeding the dog and how it affects her, habituating her to your food may not be a good idea.
You also shouldn’t give your dog human food without the vet’s advice or knowledge of the pet’s needs. You may not know that your dog is allergic to certain things, and it can give rise to unwanted behavior and/or diseases.
Thankfully, your dog’s obsession with human food can be corrected; you just have to commit to it. As we’ve discussed, dogs are creatures of habit, and habits can be changed.
Let’s look at a few things you can do to get your dog back to their everyday food.
Standard dog food is bland, and feeding the same kibble for years only makes it worse. So if you give your dog human treats regularly, she’ll almost always prefer fresh, juicy meals over the dry pet food.
It can be tough to force your dog to eat the same regular food again. However, that doesn’t mean you have to replace or throw away the food you’ve been giving her. All you have to do is add some tasty flavors to your pet’s dry kibble.
The best way to do this is by adding a dog food topper. A dog food topper is a wet dog food that mixes into the regular kibble and adds different flavors and health benefits.
I recommend Stella & Chewy’s Freeze-Dried Raw Dog Food Topper. It contains 95% meat, bone, and organs, which make it nutrient-rich. The manufacturers guarantee that the proteins are grass-fed or wild-caught. This topper is filled with certified organic vegetables and fruits. It’s also available in various flavors such as chicken, lamb, beef, duck, pork, and turkey. You can easily add it to any dry food or kibble.
Apart from that, most dog food brands offer different flavors. So you should keep changing the flavor to make things interesting for your pet.
Now that you’ve made your dog’s food tastier, it’s time to teach her how to enjoy it. There are a couple of things you need to do consistently to break her habit of human food.
The first step is to stop giving her food off the table while you’re eating. You need to quit feeding people food altogether, with no exceptions. There’s no weaning process here; just stop. You and your family taught the dog to eat human food by continually giving it to her. Now everyone in the family needs to take charge and stop providing it to her.
Instead, give your pet her usual dog food in a bowl. Since you’ve also added flavor to her dry kibble, she’s more likely to eat it. But if she ignores it, wait for about an hour, then pick up the bowl, empty it, and put it back down.
She has missed this meal and will not get anything to eat until the next (most dog owners prefer to feed their dog 2-3 times a day). You may have already tried this method, and your pet probably decided to skip a meal or two. Then, you gave up and fed her what she wanted. Don’t let it happen this time.
Depending on how stubborn your dog is, she may go up to a day or two without eating. Eventually, though, hunger will kick in, and she’ll happily eat what’s available.
In the meantime, your dog may follow you around, beg, or whine. But you need to show some tough love and ignore her. Unless there’s a severe medical condition, no dog will ever let itself starve. So she may throw tantrums, but it’s nothing to be worried about.
I’ve seen kids who won’t eat anything unless it contains something they like chocolate, cheese, ketchup, etc. They’ll happily skip a meal or two and walk around the house with a frown face. Of course, their parents love them and can’t see them starving. So the kids are essentially preying on their parents’ guilt.
However, I’ve heard of no kid who starved to death just because they didn’t get any ketchup. So I wouldn’t worry if my pet hasn’t eaten for even up to three days. If she has no medical issues, it’s highly likely that she’ll come around and eat the available food. If it goes beyond three days, however, take her to a vet.
I understand that it can be tough to resist sharing food with your dog while she is staring at you the entire time you eat. Even if you get your dog to eat kibble again, she may continue to beg at the table during your mealtime.
The best thing you can do here is to prevent the problem from happening; if your dog is crate-trained, excellent! You can use that. But if that’s not the case, you can use a baby gate to keep your dog from coming into the room while you eat. To keep her busy, you can also give her a chew bone or a toy.
When it comes to an indoor gate for your pet, you don’t have to spend a lot of money for features you don’t need. That’s why I recommend the Evenflo Tall Pressure Mount Wood Gate. It’s a basic, affordable pet gate that will get the job done. Thanks to its pressure-mounted design and simple construction, you won’t have any problems setting it up. It’s made up of wood with a non-toxic finish and expands from 31 to 50 inches.
Now, if you want her to be in the same room but not sit right next to the table, try using a rope to confine her. Put a soft mat or bed next to a piece of heavy furniture, and before you begin to eat, guide your dog to her spot. Next, attach the ends of the leash to her collar and the furniture. Again, it’s a good idea to give her something rewarding like a stuffed KONG toy to keep her busy.
Another way to prevent your pet from begging is to feed her before you eat. Right before you have your meal, feed her in a separate room from where you eat. By doing this, your pet will get too busy eating her own food to bother you while you enjoy your meal.
If that doesn’t work, you should train your dog to go to her spot and stay there. In case you haven’t taught her the ‘Stay’ command yet, it’s time to do so. It is a crucial skill that’s useful in many situations such as this.
Once your pet starts responding to the ‘Stay’ command, guide her to a soft bed or mat, and tell her to stay. Throw in a chew bone or KONG toy to keep her busy. This way, you’ll have a dog that’s full and has no interest in disturbing you while you dine peacefully.
This might be difficult, but if your dog keeps coming to the table and begs for scraps, you have to ignore her. The worst thing would be to give in that cute face and drop some food; it’ll defeat the whole purpose.
Also, yelling at your pet or scolding her doesn’t work because it gives her negative attention. And any kind of reaction from you can convince her to keep begging and whining. If you have something exciting waiting for her at her spot (chews, food, etc.) and her begging is ignored, she’ll most likely go back and get busy with her toys.
Another thing you can do is to teach her to associate barking at the table with something negative. For example, you can attach a leash to her collar and let it drag on the floor. Then, the moment she barks or whines, grab the leash and confine her to a boring place. There should be no toys, people, or anything to chew around her.
After a minute or two, go back and release her. Repeat this process every time she begs for food while you’re eating. Soon, she’ll learn that barking at the table leads to an unpleasant experience for her.
It’s annoying when your dog begs at the table repeatedly. Plus, it means your pet lacks discipline and is likely to develop other bad habits as well. So you should certainly stop giving her food off the table while you eat. However, it isn’t necessary to get her off human food altogether. Human food isn’t a bad thing, depending on the reason why you’re doing it.
If you feed your dog people food as a conscious choice, there’s no reason to change it. Just make sure you’ve done your homework and know what foods you should give her. Consult your vet and ensure that her minimum dietary requirements are met. Also, keep the fat in check as too much of it can cause her to experience stomach upset.
On the other hand, if you’re only feeding her home-cooked food because she wouldn’t eat anything else, then that’s a problem. You’re letting her manipulate you and dictate what you should feed her. Remember that now she has learned that you’ll always do what she wants you to do, as long as she keeps pushing it.
It might not sound nice, but dogs are actually quite selfish. They’ll do everything to get what they want. Your pet will test your limits, and it can cause serious issues down the road. Her current attitudes will only get more ingrained in her mind as she ages.
So it’s up to you whether you want to give your pet home-cooked food or not. You know how you got into this situation, and only you can decide which way it’ll be now.
Another related issue is that your dog may act hungry all the time. You might realize that even after giving her dog food, she still begs at the table and eats everything that comes in front of her.
To understand the root of this problem, check if your dog has any medical issues. As we’ve discussed, if your pet’s eating habits have changed suddenly, it’s possibly a sign of something. Conditions like diabetes, hyperthyroidism, or aging can cause your pet to want food all the time. So take her to a vet and rule out any medical problems.
Once you know your dog is physically healthy, you can conclude that the issue is psychological. Things like changing households or new members coming in could cause this behavior. If your pet notices a strange new person or dog moving in, it could trigger her anxiety and insecurity.
To solve this problem, find out how much food and nutrition your dog actually needs. See if you’ve been giving her the required amount and she’s maintaining the ideal weight for her age. Keep in mind that senior dogs have different dietary requirements. Find out the essential dietary requirements of your pet from the vet.
If a new dog has arrived, make sure both pets eat in different bowls placed at a distance. Don’t let either of them come close to the other one’s bowl. If it’s a new person, let them feed your dog for the next few days.
It can be challenging to get your dog off human food once she’s obsessed with it. If she refuses to eat her dry kibble and tries to force you to give people food, you need to take charge and not give in. She’ll soon come around and start eating her usual food, which should now be tastier thanks to the topper and different flavors.
Now, it’s not necessary to only feed her dog food. Human food, if given carefully, can be healthy for dogs. But you need to take great care and know the foods that are safe for your four-legged friend. Make sure you talk to your vet before making any changes to your pet’s diet.
- WedgeWood Pharmacy: Everything you should know about feeding human food to dogs and cats
- WebMD: Foods Your Dog Should Never Eat
- American Kennel Club: Beggars Can’t Be Choosers: How to Stop Your Dog from Begging at the Table
- Omaha: Dog Gone Problems: Our dog will only eat people food
- WebMD: How to Stop Your Dog from Begging at the Table
- Mixables: My Dog Won’t Eat Dog Food Only Human Food
- Healthline: Can My Dog Eat This? A List of Human Foods Dogs Can and Can’t Eat
- WebMD: When Your Dog Is a Picky Eater
- Cesar’s Way: Why Dogs Eat… And Eat… And Eat…
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