When I was growing up, our family had a miniature Schnauzer named "PJ." Like most kids, my least favorite dinner delicacy was vegetables. So, when my serving of green beans was dished to me, PJ knew exactly where to go. With this said, our goal with our dogs is to direct them to one food source ... their dog bowls. We want our dogs to learn that the dog bowl is their only food source, not the kitchen table or the kitchen counter. To be sure you don't create a begging dog, follow these simple tips:

1. Location, location, location: The biggest misconception I hear when working with customers is, "If I feed my dog people food, he will beg from the table." As I mentioned above, dogs connect with a food source, not an individual food item. So, if you feed your dog any food from the kitchen table or the kitchen counter, the dog will most likely go back to that area for more food! I recommend that if you have leftover dinner scraps, feed them to Fido in his dog bowl or outside from your flat hand after he has done a command to earn the treat.

2. What "people foods" can I feed my dog? Now that we have established that dogs connect with a food source and not the individual food item, what people foods are OK to feed your dog? The main nutrients for a dog are generally meat, fish and natural fillers (i.e., oatmeal, brown rice, potatoes). If you happen to have a small leftover amount of unseasoned meats, rice, potatoes or vegetables, these all would be appropriate to give your dog either in his dog bowl or outside from your flat hand after he has done a command to earn the treat. For more dog nutrition tips, see: http://www.doggiestepsdogtraining.com/page13.html.

My childhood dog, PJ, never complained at dinner time. She knew that sitting next to me usually guaranteed a tasty vegetable treat. Dogs often times can get bored with the same dry kibble day in and day out. So, go ahead and give your dog a scrumptious piece of leftover steak! Just be sure it's done in the right place.

Mark Siebel is owner of DOGGIE STEPS Dog Training, LLC. He has trained more than 400 Valley dogs, speaks regularly at local schools about the importance of dog safety and ownership, and donates time to youths wanting to learn more about dogs. Siebel is a member of the Arizona Professional Pet Sitters Association and Australian Shepherd Club of Arizona. Contact him at (602) 318-0122 or www.DoggieStepsDogTraining.com.


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