Why Does My Dog Eat His Food Away From His Bowl?

Picture this: You put your dog’s dinner dish on the ground for him to enjoy a nice meal. He prances over, takes a mouthful, walks across the room, and then drops the food on the floor. Once away from his bowl (whether it’s just a few steps away or in a corner on the opposite side of the room), he begins munching away. He repeats this pattern until his meal is all gone.

Does that sound familiar?

My dogs do it all the time! So the big question is: Why does my dog eat his food away from his bowl?

The Top Theory: Behavioral Instinct

Dogs, like their wolf ancestors, are viewed as pack animals. It’s believed this unusual dining behavior is just an instinctual part of their pack mentality.

You see, in the wild, animals have to hunt for their dinner. Experts say the most subordinate would drag their food away to avoid getting into a fight with the more dominant pack leaders.

“Fighting is obviously very risky, so most animals, especially subordinate ones, will go to great lengths to avoid an altercation,”
– Dr. Julie Albright-Keck, DVM, MA, DACVB, an assistant professor of veterinary behavior at the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine.

Makes sense, right? Well, while your little Fido or Fifi may not really have to fight off competition, his evolutionary instinct may still be kicking in.

Other Theories

Of course, like many dog behaviors, this isn’t the only theory out there. Some other commonly cited reasons are:

  • If you feed out of metal bowls, your pup may be getting startled by the clinking sound of his collar’s metal ID and vaccine tags. While metal bowls are viewed as a better option than plastic, some people actually switch their bowls to plastic to avoid the potentially “scary” sound.
  • If you or another close family member are in another room then your pup may just be trying to dine with some company.