If you have a dog, you may notice that they can weird things when it comes to their food. One behavior that could cause some owners concern is when dogs pluck food from their dish to go and eat someplace else. What is it that could make a dog want to move their food before eating it? Are they okay? Consider the following and, as always, voice any concerns or report unusual behaviors to your veterinarian to ensure your pet is not ill or injured in any way.

Why does my dog take food out of his bowl?

So, have you noticed your dog taking kibbles and hiding them elsewhere? Or, putting kibbles on the floor, out of the bowl, before eating? This is all manifestations of pack mentality, and how dogs will take food when it is available and then retreat to eat in peace without fear of losing it to another animal. Some may eat near their dish, while others may go and hide as far away as they can muster, often behind furniture.

Some dogs have this urge more than others, depending on the breed, history, and training that the dog has experienced. Consider how animals in the wild often feast together, competing with one-another for a bite; this is similar to the pack mentality that many dogs experience- even though they may not be hunting and rivaling each other for food.

This behavior is more likely to manifest if you have more than one pet in the home, especially if it is another dog. Even dogs that are the only pet in the house may struggle with this, due to instinct rather than rivalry.

In the case of dogs competing for food or taking food to isolate and eat, you can easily resolve this by feeding animals apart from each other. This way they might feel less pressure to protect their food from others.

There is another reason why dogs may take food from their dish to come and eat near you- or another human, which is loneliness. If your dog seems to follow you around and is trying to eat near you, they could simply be trying to spend time with you and garner your attention. They might be lonely. Dogs are companion pets; they typically want to be around their humans, including when they eat.

Why does my dog take food out of bowl and eat elsewhere?

So, what other reasons could it be that a dog plucks kibble from food bowls to eat somewhere else? The ancestry of dogs and pack mentality, as mentioned, are one practical reason, but are there other factors? The answer is yes, and some dogs may be moving their food to eat out of a concern for their safety. If there is some reason why they do not feel safe or secure, they may be taking their food to a location where they feel more comfortable.

Another reason why your dog may imbibe in this behavior is that they don’t like the bowl that the food is in. This may sound funny, but perhaps the dish you are using is difficult for them to see or doesn’t grip when they try to eat. Some may not like the sound that is made when their collar or tags rub up against their bowl. Try to see it from their perspective. Also, use clean bowls and dishes at every meal.

Know that there is not a specific breed that is more predisposed to plucking and removing food from their dish. Small dog breeds seem to be more likely to do so, though no breed is immune to the behavior.

Why does my dog take one piece of food at a time?

Another funny behavior to watch for is when a dog plucks a piece of food or kibble from their bowl to place elsewhere and eat. Plucking behavior when eating does not seem to make sense, nor does it seem to be an efficient way for your pet to nourish themselves.

Many humans may think that the dog is suffering from some sort of canine compulsive disorder, as they trot kibbles, one-by-one, to another locale before eating them. It also seems exhausting, particularly to smaller breeds of dogs with shorter legs! Furthermore, it can make a mess and cause there to be crumbs and food debris throughout the house, which may attract pests in some cases.

The reason why your dog does this is most likely due to pack mentality. Make sure that mealtime is as calm and relaxed as possible; try not to feed your dog when they are worked-up or anxious. If they seem to have apprehension or odd behaviors during mealtime, try moving their eating spot or switching out the dishes when you feed them.

Also, keep other animals away during mealtime and you may notice less of this behavior over time. While not necessary a problem, plucking behaviors could be a sign of an underlying issue that could cause your pet to act out or become aggressive if left unaddressed. Remember that you are the pack leader in your home!

Why does my dog take food to the carpet?

Have you noticed that your dog is taking food out of the dish to eat on a different floor surface? That is, are they moving food to a carpeted area or rug? In this case, your dog may not care for the hard or shiny surfaces of the floor. Some simply prefer the cushioned comfort of eating their food on a rug or carpet, so take this into account when placing their food dishes in the home.

How do I stop my dog from taking food out of his bowl?

This behavior is not hurting anyone as long as there is medical reason why your dog is removing their food, and they don’t appear to be losing weight. Messing around with a dog’s eating schedule can cause more problems than it solves, so there really is no reason to make major modifications to mealtime to resolve this situation.

However, you could try to make your dog more comfortable eating wherever they wish by switching their dish or bowl to something else. If you use a metal bowl, try a ceramic one, instead, and see if it makes a difference. If your dog eats from a deep bowl, try a plate or shallow dish.

Another approach is to provide their food near where they sleep, in their crate or kennel. This may provide a sense of security that allows them to eat directly out of their dish without plucking and moving the food.

If you notice aggressive behaviors when people or pets are near the dog’s dishes, it is time to get professional help. Growling and snapping is not appropriate and can be effectively addressed with a professional obedience trainer.

Dogs do funny things- especially when it comes to their food. If you have concerns surrounding how your dog eats, talk to your veterinarian. Know that usually these mannerisms come from inherent dog mentality and heritage; if problematic behaviors persist, consider contacting a dog trainer and behavioral specialist to address the issue- and to improve your pet’s quality of life.

Author

I created and currently manage Pet Dog Owner, the website you can go to when you have questions about your dog's behavior. It is my hope that you find Pet Dog Owner to be a helpful resource. It is also my hope that it will help you to improve your relationship with your dog. You can read more about me and my website here.