Calling all humans, please don’t feed the hounds!

So my second post is a topic that people will hopefully find helpful and for the sake of many dog owners should possibly be a public service announcement. While ignorance may be bliss, one person’s bliss is another person’s blister.
Dogs. They’re great. They are (mostly) fuzzy, cute, often charming, accomplished entertainers even when they’re not trying. They have a brilliant understanding of humans and an unerring memory for anything that results in a reward.

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My first post  https://doggedblogged.wordpress.com/2017/12/13/domination-in-dogs-is-not-motivation-and-why-thats-important/ was on the topic of motivation, well, it is safe to say that most dogs are highly motivated by food. Even those who are choosy or who’s owners say “they’re not that bothered by treats.” This is only because that dog knows exactly when it’s next meal is coming or has the option to be choosy in the first place. We dog lovers are of course all suckers for keeping our furry companions happy. Our dogs know this and I assure you, use this to great advantage. We are most lucky they do not have thumbs.
Now when I say, please don’t feed the hounds, I am not referring to a person and their own dog. This is not a lecture on dog ownership, if you want one, well, you know where to find me.
This is on the topic of food and feeding any dog that is not your own or that you haven’t had explicit permission or instructions to do so.

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I’ll begin with the easy reason, allergies. Oh but it’s just chicken you say after slipping a pooch a tasty morsel. The last result I assume anyone attempting to treat a dog wants to see is anaphylactic shock. I have had two canine clients with allergies to chicken. I have many more with a host of other allergies. Depending on the severity of the allergy and size of the dog, at best we have an upset stomach and at worst we have death.
Sticking to the subject of food sensitivities, there are many human foods no dogs should be consuming under any circumstances. Again, size of the dog is very important, a large dog may snaffle something they shouldn’t and get away relatively scot free, a small dog may not be so lucky.
Most people are aware of chocolate being harmful to dogs, this is due to theobromine. We humans process this easily but it builds to toxic levels in dogs very quickly. Many don’t realise however that sugar isn’t good for dogs either, it affects them much the same as it does children, dogs are already hyperactive enough and many human products contain xylitol as an alternative to sugar, this is extremely toxic to dogs and often leads to poisoning or fatalities.
On the topic of health alone there are many reasons to not casually feed a dog, obesity and weight issues cause a whole host of health problems in canines and you may think, oh it’s just this little bit, well, so may another ten people. A lot of processed human foods contain  high amounts of fat, sugar and salt. All fine in moderation for us but have a much greater adverse affect on dogs.

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Here’s my favourite word again, motivation, what is your motivation for feeding said dog human? In my experience there are two types who give their food to dogs. Those who like dogs and want to be liked in return and those who fear dogs and want them to go away.
For those seeking doggy friends. Cupboard love is not good love! It’s a lazy way to win favour. That dog is not faithful and the moment your food supply and willingness to give it has been exhausted, your new friend is gone with the flatulence. Yes they are very persuasive but ultimately you are only making the life of the dog owner/minder difficult.
This dog is canny, you are teaching it that strange humans or humans in general supply food on demand and it won’t stop with you. The thing is not all people are receptive to this, it can lead to unwanted harassment of others and chips away at the control of the person in charge of the pooch.
Which brings us to fear, I’ve seen those who are afraid of dogs throw their food at a dog in an attempt to get it to leave them alone. Now the reason this isn’t productive is really the same reason as the one just stated, that dog is learning that you the human, are a supplier of the food it wants. If you fear dogs and are giving it your food, you have now become supply on demand and you can be sure it’ll keep returning. Definitely not the desired result.

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Having briefly referenced handler  control. Let us now take a moment to sympathise with the dog owners, minders and professionals desperately trying to maintain said control of these mischievous mutts in the face of munchy mutiny. As I mentioned it only takes one successfully won treat for that dog to learn there is a possibility of more.
You the feeder do not have to face the wrath of the person who’s clean clothes were ruined by an excited snack hunter. The same snack hunter you fed last week when it jumped so enthusiastically at your thigh.
You the feeder aren’t expending energy every day trying to offset undesirable behaviour that your feeding has positively reinforced. You the feeder need not apologise to other dog owners for K9 robbery section sausage.
You the feeder need not incur the costs of someone’s lunch after encouraging a sharing is caring attitude in a precocious pooch.
You the feeder need not shuffle your feet and avoid eye contact at the vets as a disappointing weight gain is read aloud.
You the feeder need not clean up the mess (at best) left by an unhappy digestive system. Probably under the watchful gaze of disapproving eyes examining the effectiveness of your cleanup.
You the feeder need not see the pain or suffering the worst case scenarios cause.

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At the end of the day, most who do feed the hounds do it with innocence and good intentions, dogs are scavengers, they will take food wherever they can get it but this doesn’t mean they should.
They may look super happy chewing on your yummy scraps or sharing your dogs treats but give them a few seconds and they’ll find something else to be happy about. You are not responsible for its happiness. If a scratch behind the ears or above (never below) the tail aren’t enough to win you favour then do another human a favour and let them or encourage them to move on.
Lastly, if you have been given permission to treat, my last request to you, please follow the four feet on the floor rule or ask them to sit first. Manners too can be undone in a moment!

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Author: jendogged

I run my own my business, DOGgED, working with dogs. I provide specialist walking, human-dog education and a holistic approach to tackling canine behaviour with reward based training. DOGgED is two years old, I offer alternative options to dominance theory and hopefully improve the quality of life experienced by dogs and the people who care for them. Happiness is a five dog chasing circle.

2 thoughts on “Calling all humans, please don’t feed the hounds!”

  1. Firstly – gorgeous photos! Secondly, another well written, insightful and enjoyable read. Totally agree with your reasoning. Looking forward to more 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah thank you! I think the photos are classic examples of expressions that lead to anything they want haha. In a perfect world we would give them everything they wanted and there would be no repercussions, they give us so much!

      Liked by 1 person

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