I hear controversy all the time about feeding dogs human food. Does anyone have any input on this?
From a health and nutrition standpoint, many people will say you shouldn't feed dogs human food. I think what they are referring to is nasty, fatty left-over food like chicken skin/fat or grisly fatty bits of meat, etc. Yeah, too much of that stuff can give your dog diarreah or raise heck with their stomach so most people would do good to avoid it. However, in my house I do give those leftover greenbeans that no one will eat to the dogs, or that bit of leftover chicken breast that is too small for a sandwich but too good to throw in the trash. I think good quality leftovers are fine to feed to your dog and I will often use them as training treats or just toss in them in the dogs' bowls at their dinner time. Heck, look at the label of my dogs' food and you'll find "chicken, fish, rice, blueberries, sweet potato, peas". That sounds like "human" food to me--or perhaps I'm eating "dog" food!
From a training and behavior standpoint, many people will say you shouldn't feed human food because it will create a dog that begs for human food or steals food off the counter. I think nothing could be farther from the truth. What makes a dog a beggar or a counter-surfer is the history of reinforcement--where has he had a history of getting food? If it has been from your plate then he is going to pester you when you have a plate in your hand. If he has been given food from the counter as you prepare it then he is going to continue to beg from you as you prepare food at the counter. If he's been given the opportunity to steal stuff from the table or counter once then he is probably going to try again. Dogs are opportunistic feeders and if the opportunity is provided they will beg and steal for food. This would be the same if it was human food or if it was dog kibble. If you sat down with plate of dog food and fed your dog from it he would start hanging around you more when you have plates in your hand. It isn't so much about what food it is, it is about where the dog expects it to come from. If they expect to get it from your plate because they've gotten it there before then that's where they are going to look for it. So if you want to give your dog high-quality human food then do it, just don't do it from your plate, the table, or the counter if you don't want a dog that begs there. Instead give it to them in their food bowl at their regular dinner time or use it as training treats.