Have you ever noticed your dog taking food from his or her bowl and carrying it somewhere else to eat? If so, you are not alone. Dogs have many peculiar habits and moving their food around before eating it is just one of many. Understanding the little quirks exhibited by your fur baby is something most pet owners want to accomplish. Once you are able to read their body language and interpret their individual habits you can better discern what your pup wants and needs. So, why do dogs move their food around before they eat? Well, experts throughout the canine community have a few different ideas as to the reason behind this action.
The Root of the Behavior
Speculation abounds when it comes to deciphering the actions of domesticated canines. And the act of moving their food from their bowl to another location is no different. Experts, from veterinarians to professional trainers, have weighed in on the subject. Most do agree that you are more likely to see this behavior in multi-dog households and their insights into the possible causes of this are varied. However, each is worth exploring to figure out why your particular pooch is moving food around. At the forefront of the vast theories is that it relates back to their primal pack mentality. There are those who will argue that domesticated dogs are not pack animals, but most experts will disagree. With regards to taking food from their bowl and going elsewhere to eat it, many feel that this is deeply rooted instinct from their pack days in the wild. In canine packs, a lesser member may snag a few morsels of food and take it somewhere else to eat. This is a much better option for most dogs than having to fight other pack members to eat.
Another idea of why your pup may exhibit this behavior is simply loneliness. Dogs, like humans, do not always like to eat alone. If your fur baby's bowl is in one room and you are eating or resting in another, they may just want to be closer to you while they eat. This may coincide with the pack mentality as well, in that dogs long for companionship and don't want to be alone. Pups that are home alone all day will be especially eager to be around you as much as possible. Even during meal time. Going back to the primitive heritage of dogs some feel that the instinct of caching may play a role in a dog moving his or her food. In the wild canines will sometimes drag their prey to a safe place and store it for later consumption. As most of the Canidae in the wilderness have to scavenge for food it makes sense that they accumulate food for later.
Encouraging the Behavior
Unless this behavior is accompanied by aggression and no harm is coming to your fur baby there is usually no need to try and correct them. If you feel like something does need to be done to perhaps aid in lessening their loneliness, there are some suggestions. One option is to move your dog's bowl to a new location. Maybe putting the bowl closer to where you eat your meals or spend the most time will help your pooch feel more like part of the family. You may also try feeding your pup in his or her crate to help with their food moving obsession. Since most dogs come to view their crate as their safe place, your baby might be more comfortable having their meal there as well. Give it a try and see if your dog seems comfortable with eating inside their crate. Surprisingly, the type of bowl you are using may something to consider. Especially if your dog wears their collar and identification tags all the time. The sound of their tags clanking against a metal bowl can be irritating or upsetting. Try switching to a bowl made from a different material such as plastic. Something this simple could make a world of difference for your fur baby during meal time.
Other Solutions and Considerations
The idea that your pup may be taking his or her food out of their bowl to hoard it can be upsetting. One of the first thoughts many people have is if they are feeding their dog enough. Your vet can help you determine the appropriate amount of food you should be giving your pooch. And just because they are 'hoarding' does not necessarily mean they are wondering when and where they will get their next meal. Your pup may also just be concealing their food so that other pets in the house can't get it. Multi-pet households can be very competitive with both attention and with food. It is very common for a dog to take their food out of their bowl and hide it away.
Just remember that even though your pooch is quite pampered, he or she still has some primal instincts inside. Those instincts can manifest in the strangest places and at the strangest times. So if moving their food makes them happy and isn't hurting them, then the only thing we should have to say on the matter is Bone Appétit!
By a English Mastiff lover Dena Withrow
Published: 02/20/2018, edited: 01/30/2020