Petiquette: Table Manners Revisited

Is feeding your dogs from the table always a bad idea?

By Leslie Phelan

Photo credit: Getty Images

I regularly and remorselessly commit a sin that many would say is an unforgivable breach of table etiquette. Boldly and unapologetically, I feed my pugs from the dinner table.

Now, it isn’t just the dinner table where I feed them. It’s from the breakfast bar or the coffee table or the picnic blanket or from my bed when I’m bed-snackin’ —not an uncommon sight. Whatever mama’s eatin’, the kids will pretty much always get to taste a treat or two. Unless it’s something I know to be bad for dogs, I share generously.

I know that it isn’t a very polite habit I have here, and that this sort of behavior can foster begging which can obviously get very annoying but before you judge me, let me tell you about my pugs. Brutus and Isabel are not beggars, they are silent watchers. They sit far enough away from me that they are not in my personal space and certainly don’t ever presume to stick their little snouts into my dish. They sit back and watch with intent at every bite I bring to my lips. Their giant eyeballs protrude from their faces even more than usual while I am eating like pond bubbles about to pop, and their heads tilt comically to the side. It’s a look that I can only describe as “aggressive longing.” They watch me like I’m holding the key to true happiness while I’m eating human food. They want it so bad.

Thing is, they are pretty much always right. I have excellent taste in human food! I like my grilled meats cooked medium rare, love sauces and gravies and carbs and grease and basically any variety of positively sinful deliciousness. They want at it ‘cause they trust my taste and Mama didn’t raise no fools. So I give them a bite to make them happy. They’re always happy anyways. That’s why they deserve these coveted morsels.

So that is my stance on feeding dogs from the table. As long as they aren’t annoying you by obnoxiously whining, begging and lunging at your food, then it is perfectly fine to hand-feed them tasty tidbits, and anyone bothered be damned. I, personally, prefer it when I have a canine keenly eyeballing my meal, it means I have the quickest and most enthusiastic cleanup crew ever conveniently on hand in case of a spill or a drop — another not-uncommon sight. It’s a symbiosis we have, my dogs and I.