Ask AKC with Lisa Peterson
August 2007

Dear Lisa: Recently, my boyfriend has been feeding my 7-month-old Labrador Retriever table food. I have been very diligent about only feeding him a high quality commercial puppy food with an occasional egg and a few puppy treats. I have insisted that table scraps are not good for him but haven't gotten very far. I have managed to get my boyfriend to feed the puppy in his bowl and not from the table but not much success stopping him completely. Can you help me in deciding whether table food is good for my dog? – Table Manners

Dear Table: Before the advent of commercially prepared canned meat or dry kibble for dogs in the early 20th century if you had a family pet, many times his rations would could from left over table scraps or homemade meals. But over the past century, dog food companies have developed nutritionally balanced food to meet the needs of the modern day dog. That said it really is unnecessary to supplement a dog’s food with any extras.

Feeding a dog from the table is bad on several accounts. First, it promotes the awful habit of begging. I’m sure we’ve all been guilty of this at some point since it’s hard to resist those big brown cow eyes staring at your even though drool is pouring out of his mouth leaving puddles on your floor. Second, most human food may not be suitable for dogs, even toxic, such as too much turkey fat, grapes or even onions. Curbing this behavior is paramount not only for the puppy’s safety but to prevent it from continuing into adulthood when it won’t be cute but rather annoying as you try to enjoy your meal.

Regular Routine Rules
While your boyfriend may argue that he’s not feeding from the table since the food is going in his food bowl the puppy is still getting extra calories which may lead to obesity and related health concerns. Finally, feeding table scraps may create a finicky dog that only wants to eat human food not his regular dog food which contains all the nutrients your puppy needs to grow at this young age. The best approach is to feed the puppy twice a day with his regular food in his bowl after you have had your meals. This not only establishes that you are the boss, since you eat first and the puppy eats second, but will put the puppy on a sound routine for the rest of his life. Should you feel the need to give him treats make it count and turn it into a fun opportunity for training. Teach him to sit, stay and come and then reward with little treats.

Dear Lisa: I live in a suburb of Detroit and yesterday a hawk flew across my yard while my 6.5 pound “Yorkie” was in the middle of the yard. The hawk was about 15 to 20 feet above my dog before it flew into a tree. Is this a potential danger to my dog? Since then, I have been going outside with my dog every time he goes out, just in case. – Harried by Hawk

Dear Harried: While I have not personally heard of hawks flying off with small dogs, I did have a similar experience to yours with a litter of puppies. Three of my Norwegian Elkhound puppies were out in my yard in a small pen. There were maybe five pounds each at the time, about six-weeks-old. At one point I noticed a large shadow flying above and looked up to see two Hawks circling. I immediately brought the puppies inside just to be on the safe side.

Birds of Prey
Afterwards, I did some research and found that a variety of hawks do dine on small mammals such as moles, squirrels, and mice for example and occasionally the larger rabbit or hare. They hunt by watching from a nearby perch, usually a tree, and then swoop down, talons extended and grab their prey. Hawks have excellent eye site and can spot a darting mouse from at least a mile away. When hunting hawks can either hover high above their target or dive low over the ground.

I recommend that you walk your Yorkie on a leash at all times, not only to keep it earth-bound should a swooping Hawk think it is his dinner, but because one of the tenets of responsible dog ownership is to adhere to local leash laws in your community and not let your dog roam unattended.

Lisa Peterson, a long-time owner/breeder/handler of Norwegian Elkhounds, is the AKC Director of Club Communications. If you have a question, send it to Lisa at and she may select it to be answered here in Ask AKC.

© 2007 The American Kennel Club, Inc.