By Romita Dey
To feed or not to feed your dog off the table is a hot topic to discuss amongst pet owners. Most of them admit to not being able to resist the “puppy faces” their dogs make while they are eating and end up feeding them. Some dog parents, on the other hand, are very strict about not feeding their dog off the table and have learnt to ignore the supremely pleading faces of their pets.
Dogs and kids
Dogs are like our children. It is just that our human kids demand for their favourite food items from time to time whereas dogs just want to be fed anything instead! That’s all they want, regardless of whether they even like what you are eating. They just sit there, waiting for you to have mercy on them. Sometimes it gets very difficult to ignore those big pleading eyes which make them look like they haven’t eaten in years!
However, dogs are experts at manipulating their masters. The “puppy dog” look they give to their owners while they are eating is quite a “practiced one”. They just want you to give in to their wishes and that’s exactly why you should not. The dog should always know that you are the leader of the pack and not him or her!
Obesity and Diabetes – Double whammy!
Sounds difficult? Is it very difficult for you to ignore your little puppy while you are eating? Well there is another big reason behind why you should not be feeding your dog off the table. It has been found out that table scraps are the biggest reason behind dogs becoming overweight and diabetic! Shocking, but true! You eat lunch and dinner once a day, so if you are feeding them extra twice a day in addition to their own meals, can you imagine just how much food your dogs are eating? It amounts to almost seven meals per day for every dog!
Responsible or not
Some pet parents are into what they call “responsible feeding” off the table. This includes indulging the dog with some food only after you have finished your meal. Sounds responsible enough, but not many parents can afford to keep it up for a long time. Like I said before, our dogs are expert manipulators! If you just forget your rule for one day and offer something to the dog in between your meal, then that will be the end of it. He or she will expect the same thing every day and your meals will never be the same again.
Let us read what some pet parents have to say about feeding or not feeding their dogs off the table.
Amita Mary, Mumbai
Doting parent to the most adorable Lhasa Apso named Cherie, this is what Amita had to say about how she very cleverly avoids feeding Cherie off the table and why she thinks it’s a bad habit.
“I feed Cherie her meal at the same time I have my dinner. That way she doesn’t have a lot of time to pretend that she’s been starving for three years. If she manages to finish her meal first and comes to me to beg for more, I give her a choostick instead of what I’m eating. I think discipline is very important for both dogs AND babies. Personally I believe love comes with responsibility and feeding them table scraps sets a bad habit.”
Usha Venkatachalam, Chennai
Usha is a lucky dog parent because her sweethearts, Julie and Sweety almost never ask for food while she is eating! They are busy playing instead. Wish more dog parents had such wonderful luck! Here is what Usha had to say about her amazing babies and how she handles their occasional demand for extra food.
“My babies always eat before us and they don’t ask for food while we eat. They play with their toys while we have food. Even if they ask for it I tell them that it’s very spicy food and that they can’t eat it. Once I finish with my food I give them some treats for being such good pets and also not demanding for extra food. They are such wonderful sweethearts”.
There is a lot to learn from how Usha handles her babies. It is not like they don’t demand for food at all, but she handles them in the easiest way possible. It would be very easy for her to give in to their begging faces, but she sticks to her stand and surely her sweethearts have accepted it.
Pema Samdup, Mumbai
Parent to seven rescued dogs (her favourite being “Zuzu”- an adorable Indian boy) and two cats, Pema has her hands full at all times. Imagine having eight dogs standing all around you while you are eating your dinner! How would you eat your food at all? It is so difficult for people to handle even one dog! Here is how Pema does it!
“As much as I am tempted, I refrain from feeding my dogs off the table as they get used to this. Just like we teach our kids table manners, we should be teaching the same to our dogs as well. We must realize that not everyone finds our dogs adorable as we do and might not enjoy getting jumped at for begging for food. They might not like the dogs shaking their fur during meal time and have hair flying all over. If we allow them to eat off the table when we are dining alone, they expect the same when friends or family come over! You can confuse the dogs with a change in attitude depending on the situation. It is better to have a disciplined dog than an unruly one and the same applies for a human child as well.”
I love the fact that she has drawn such a parallel between our doggy and our human kids. Truth be told, nobody likes noisy and whining kids and the same goes for dogs who are always begging for food. Just like we teach our kids to behave in front of guests, we should teach our dogs to do the same.
Here is to not feeding our dogs off the table!
Romita Dey is an ardent dog lover and blogger based in Kolkata.