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Local Woof: Is People Food OK for Dogs?

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Editor’s Note: The Local Woof is a column that’s sponsored and written by the staff of Woofs! Dog Training Center. Woofs! has full-service dog training, boarding, and daycare facilities, near Shirlington and Ballston.

We often here people say, “I NEVER give my dog people food.” This surprises me because I do almost all of my dog training using “people food”as treats. My favorites are hot dogs, string cheese and rotisserie chicken.

So is it ok to give dogs people food? Of course it is! High quality dog foods are made from chicken, beef, sweet potato, etc. Dog foods contains the same ingredients that you and I eat, simply molded into a different form that is convenient to purchase and feed to our dogs.

The bottom line is food is food. The only difference is the shape and quality of the food. People grade chicken in generally much better quality than dog grade chicken, and it tastes better too.

I think where people are getting confused is in the context. You should not feed your dog “people food” that you are eating. Do not feed your dog from the table and do not share your sandwich or pizza crust. Any leftovers that you want to give your dog should be delivered to the dog in their bowl or in a training session. It is feeding from your plate that will teach your dog to beg, not the form of the food.

Context is incredibly important to dogs. They can easily learn the difference between chicken on a plate at the dining room table (not theirs) and chicken in a bait bag for a training session (theirs). In fact, one of the characteristics that helped to domesticate dogs from their wolf-like ancestors was their ability to read the intentions and body language of people. They are masters of contextual cues.

I use human grade food and treats for my dogs for two main reasons. First, my dogs deserve the highest quality food products that I can afford to give them. Many dog foods and treats are made from ingredients that people don’t eat like chicken meal (rather than chicken meat), and contain high amounts of corn and grain, which are nothing but filler.

The second reason is that human-quality food generally tastes better.  When training, I want to be sure to offer the dog a high-value reward in order to get the best possible behavior from them.

So don’t be afraid to share your leftovers. Just make sure you are clear about which food belongs to you and which food belongs to your dog. It’s all made of the same stuff anyhow.

Update at 3:15 p.m. — The point of this article is to highlight human foods that dogs can eat safely. As pointed out by a commenter, there are also certain human foods that dogs should not eat.

 The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

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