The Root of the Behavior
One possible reason your dog sits down to eat might also be one of the most simple explanations. Maybe it really is more comfortable. Your dog's sitting could mean that he or she wants to "sit down to a good meal," so to speak. Like humans, some dogs feel the need to relax at mealtime and sitting can be part of it. Whether it is for the basic desire to be more relaxed or the fact that Fluffy is just plain lazy, sitting down to eat could be nothing more than personal preference.You may be one of the many people who has trained your dog to sit before you start to feed them. As a result, you may, in fact, be the reason that your pup sits down to eat. When your fur baby obeys the sit command and then receives the food they see this as a reward.
Being rewarded with food for sitting can be a little confusing to your dog with regards to how they are supposed to be eating. So he or she may alternate between sitting and standing while dining. If this is the case, just leave them alone while they eat and let them figure out on their own what works best. If you are one of the lucky owners of a larger breed dog, you may want to consider bowl height as a reason for Fluffy sitting during mealtime. Taller dogs should never eat or drink from bowls that are completely on the floor or ground. The act of stooping down to reach their bowl can cause stress on your pup's back and neck. So if your dog is having to stretch down to reach his or her bowl it makes sense that they will want to sit or lay to be closer to the bowl.
Encouraging the Behavior
Most experts agree that as long as there are no medical concerns, allowing your dog to sit while eating is not an issue. Determining the reason behind this act may be difficult. Most dogs will work out on their own what is the most comfortable option for them. As stated above, if your pup falls into the large breed category, you may want to consider an elevated feeding area. Raising your pup's bowls up off the floor could have a significant effect on how comfortable your pet is during mealtimes. Many dogs will exhibit this particular behavior as young puppies, but may eventually grow out of it as they get older. This is especially true if you avoid "reinforcing" the behavior by not rewarding your pup immediately after sitting. Otherwise, Fluffy will come to expect food or a treat every single time he or she sits for you. Being cautious not to create this habit is up to you as your dog's pack leader. If you still have concerns about the fact that your puppy or older dog sits down to eat, you can give your vet or dog trainer a call. Talking with either of these experts can help you decide what is best for your dog's health and all around well being. While making him comfortable is important, ensuring your pup is healthy is priority.
Other Solutions and Considerations
If you have noticed that your older dog has suddenly started sitting to eat, it may be medically related rather than for comfort. Health issues such as a sore back, upset stomach, or other general illness can lead to your dog's need to sit while eating. If you notice that there are signs of discomfort accompanying your pup's new behavior, a call to your veterinarian is most likely needed. When it comes to the health of our fur babies, it is always better to be overly cautious. Your vet can perform a full checkup to determine if there is any treatment needed for your pup.
Whether your sweet little fur baby has learned to sit while eating because he thinks it is proper, is more comfortable, or is just plain lazy, this behavior is usually nothing extremely concerning. Let Fluffy enjoy his or her meal as they see fit and are the most comfortable. Just remember, the next time your pup sits down for their meal you should always wish them "Bon Appétit!"