If you give a dog a cookie, it is unlikely to end there. The dog doesn’t just give you a ‘thank you’ look and trot away, at least not for good. Chances are, he’ll want another, and he’ll pester you for more. You might have the willpower to resist those begging eyes, but your dog’s greatest wish is that you’re a stooge. In that hope, he will camp out by the dog cookie jar, committed to wearing you down.

If you let your dog sleep on the end of the bed, he won’t be satisfied to stay there. He may look content curled up at your feet, his head resting across your ankles, but make no mistake, he wants more and his goal is set: pillows. Pillows are the goal. Oh, that fluffy goodness that so delightfully captures the scent of the people he loves! How could he resist? Eventually, when your pup has gone quietly off somewhere, you’ll discover him snoozing blissfully, a smile on his muzzle, as he dreams in the heavenly comfort of those very pillows.

“Dogs are smart and can sniff out a weak link without even trying.”

If you give your dog a car ride, he’ll want to be in charge. A blanket may have been spread across the back seat and the windows cracked open—even in winter—but those thoughtful accommodations are no guarantee that it is the dog’s paradise to be in the back seat. You’ll be lucky to get a mile down the road before his nose pokes between the front seats. Next, it’s the front paws on the center console as he takes a surfing stance traveling down the road. Before you know it, both front paws are on the driver’s arm. Of course that’s unsafe, so the dog is shooed to the back seat, and the process starts again. The problem is obvious: the dog wants to be in the driver’s seat.

If, while on a walk, you remove the leash as you near your front door, eventually, it will backfire. You may think it a treat to allow your dog a limited freedom frolic, but it is only a matter of time before he realizes he is no longer tethered and goes rogue. There are many distractions that might interfere with his focus: a squirrel crossing his path, a fellow dog being walked nearby, happy children at play. Any and all can be the cause of your dog’s spontaneous decision to make a run for it, leaving you scrambling to chase him down.

These are just a few real-life examples of how our canine companions are primed for taking advantage of we indulgent humans. I have certainly experienced all of them. And I have been soundly defeated more than once. For example, years ago, I had established a firm ‘No Dogs on the Pillows’ policy, and felt strongly about enforcing it, when I came upon my Labrador, Mollie, ignoring the rule. She was discovered stretched across my pillows with complete abandon—only my pillows. My husband was still in bed, fully enjoying his pillows. There he was, snoozing and absent-mindedly petting her while she flagrantly broke my rule. She was in heaven, but I wasn’t about to let it go so easily. “Hey,” I said. “What are you doing on my pillow?” I snapped my fingers. “Off the pillows!” I demanded, with authority. She looked up at me, decided I wasn’t serious, and laid her head back down. Now my husband was awake and snickering under his breath. I protested, “I can’t believe you’re letting her lay on my pillows!” I addressed Mollie again. “Go on, get down!” I demanded. Once again, she looked up at me over her shoulder, then turned to my husband. Her body language said it all: ‘Can you believe she’s talking to me like this?’ and she continued to ignore me. “Hey!” I said, getting fired up. “Do what I say.” Still nothing. Then, “I’m in charge here!” I shouted, raising my voice and stomping my foot for emphasis. You can imagine what happened next. My husband laughed out loud. That bratty Mollie did not move an inch until my husband could control his laughter long enough to say, “Okay, Mollie, that’s enough. Get down.” To which she immediately complied. Dogs are smart and can sniff out a weak link without even trying. She seldom respected me, and my husband’s laughter did nothing to change her opinion. But it’s also true that my mama didn’t raise any dummies. After that day, I changed my tack and put the onus on the human in the bed, rather than the dog. My new policy: With complete dog devotion comes responsibility. You fix this.

With that kind of manipulation, can you imagine what would happen if you gave a dog a phone? All the kids get one eventually, so why not the dog? With a phone, the dog could order its own treats and supplies online. Of course, you’d have to connect his shopping account to a card with a reasonable credit limit. I imagine dogs to be impulse shoppers. When not trolling the internet for deals, your dog could spend the day spreading dog gossip with his phone-carrying friends and play games when he gets bored. He could post funny dog-themed memes on Facebook and scroll through his friends’ posts. Your dog could get completely lost in political arguments on social media. Wait! That’s ridiculous! That’s going too far. Dogs are smarter than that.

The takeaway here is a cautionary tale: If you give a dog a cookie, it could lead to him snoozing in the cushy softness of your pillows (regardless of the rules), which could lead to him trying to drive the car, which inevitably leads to him taking an off-leash walkabout to who knows where, which could lead to his flagrant misuse of phone privileges, his face planted in a screen all day. That can’t be good for humanity. Dogs are so much better with a little freedom and reasonable rules in place. Go ahead and give your dog a cookie, but do so at your own risk.