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Does Your Dog Bamboozle You for Food and Treats?

My super smart Beagle always manages to scheme her way into treats and human food, outsmarting me every time.

Christie Zizo  |  Feb 1st 2016


I came home one night to find my laundry hamper on its side in the kitchen. It made some sense, as my washing machine in my old apartment was located in a closet at the end of the small, galley-style kitchen. But I had left the hamper in the dining area. I thought it was odd, picked it up, and went on my way.

I should have known better. I have a Beagle.

My Beagle, Lulu. (Photo by Christie Zizo)

My Beagle, Lulu. (Photo by Christie Zizo)

A week later, I found an empty lamb-lung treat bag hidden behind the couch. It hadn’t been ripped apart, but expertly opened and emptied.

Lightbulb! The laundry hamper. I’d had an opened lamb-lung treat bag on a counter in the kitchen. But I kept it in the back, away from prying noses and teeth and paws. Or so I thought. Lulu must have used the hamper to get to the bag.

My Beagle, for her part, regarded me with a tail wag and a head tilt. How could I get mad? At this point, she wouldn’t even know why I was upset. And she looked too darn cute.

If you have a dog, chances are good you can sympathize. Maybe you have a similar story. But if you own a Beagle, it’s almost a certainty you know what I deal with.

Beagles are often falsely depicted as being unintelligent. This is patently false. Beagles are brilliant. They’re just stubborn. And when it comes to food, they are evil geniuses. Doggy supervillains.

(Photo by Christie Zizo)

Lulo loves lamb lung. (Photo by Christie Zizo)

While I try to be two steps ahead of Lulu at all times, I have often been bamboozled by my Beagle, in particular for food.

For example, while living in the same apartment, I would keep Lulu’s Heartgard pills on the high breakfast nook. Sure, it was in plain sight, but I’d kept it there for months and Lulu never showed any interest, and she couldn’t reach anyway.

One night, I came home from work to find a brand-new pack on the floor. I had just bought the six-pack and given her one chewable. The other five pills were now missing. The package was not mangled, either. Each pill pocket was opened as if I’d done it myself. All gone. Happy, tail-wagging Lulu. Panicking me.

The Heartgard site had no info on whether Lulu was in any danger. Nothing on the poison control website I checked. So I called the emergency vet, who promptly laughed. “Honey, she can eat more than one package and nothing will happen.”

Unfortunately, eating six pills in one day won’t provide you with six months of heartworm protection. Back to the vet for another pack.

Eventually, we moved to a house. Lulu could go out and run around in the backyard. The trouble was getting her to come back in. Now, Lulu has a fairly good recall. But suddenly she was refusing to come inside.

Lulu loves her backyard. (Photo by Christie Zizo)

Lulu loves being outside. (Photo by Christie Zizo)

If I were coming home at a reasonable hour, I would just let her stay out there. But I come home late at night. Eventually I’d like to go to bed. So I started offering a treat to bring her in.

Now she would rather stay outside all day and night than come in without getting a treat. Sometimes she’ll even refuse to come in if the treat bribe isn’t to her liking.

Lulu is also good at catching me when my guard is down.

One day, I was washing my other dog, Jasmine, a chore that involves high-value treats to coax her into the bathroom. The kind of treats that gets Lulu’s super-powered sniffer going. (Beagles have around 225 million scent receptors. Few dog breeds have better noses.)

When the bath was over, Jasmine flew past me and my towel. I rushed out to grab her before she began dousing the couch with eau du wet dog.

While I wrestled with the zooming mutt, I heard a rustling. I’d left the bag of treats on top of the toilet. By the time I got back to the bathroom, they were gone, along with Lulu.

Another time was really dumb on my part and could have been quite dangerous. Parties can be the worst when you have a dog. I had some friends and family over for my birthday. The dogs seemed more interested in meeting all the newcomers than what we were grilling, and at one point no one was minding the food table. So Lulu helped herself to some chicken breast. Thank goodness there were no bones. Needless to say, Lulu spent the rest of the day inside.

Lulu loved the chicken. (Photo courtesy Christie Zizo)

Lulu loves chicken. (Photo courtesy Christie Zizo)

Lulu’s greatest scheme, however, is the one everyone else falls for. Those big, sad eyes. To the Beagle novice, they are irresistible. Who can say no to a begging Beagle? Certainly not my Dad, and boy Lulu knows it. He was watching her while I was away at a conference once, and I came home to find him absentmindedly feeding her Cheetos.

“Don’t feed her that!” I yelled. “But she likes them!” he exclaimed. Oy.

It’s not just my father who falls under Lulu’s spell.

Over the course of a year, Lulu may attend four or five pet-related events – fairs, conferences, expos. Lots of vendors with samples for dogs. Over the years, I’ve discovered a few things:

  1. None of these people can resist big Beagle eyes and a white-tipped, wagging tail.
  2. Nothing gets a crowd to come to a booth like a Beagle willing to do basically anything for a treat.
    Usually after a few hours, I turn treat vendors down or offer to take a sample for later. You should see the disappointment in their eyes! It rivals the disappointment in Lulu’s eyes when she realizes I’ve put my foot down.

So remember, if you see us coming and you fall for Lulu’s soulful eyes, know that while she may act like she’s never eaten a day in her life, in her mind she’s really thinking, “Sucker!”

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About the author: Christie Zizo is a writer in Orlando, Florida. When she’s not writing about her dogs and her cat at LifeWithBeagle.com, she’s working at an area TV station as a digital media producer. She’s a graduate of the University of Central Florida (go Knights!). Favorite place in Florida: St. Augustine.