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Why is my dog afraid of his food bowl? (Or Water Bowl)

Why is my dog afraid of his food bowl? (Or Water Bowl)

If your dog has been being afraid of his food or water bowl, this post will show you likely reasons why and what you can do about them.

So, why is my dog afraid of his food or water bowl? Likely reasons why your dog is afraid of his food or water bowl are that he wants to eat alone, he had an allergic reaction to something when he ate from the bowl or because the bowl is too tall.

There are a number of possible causes. However, there are some things you can consider to help figure out the main cause and there are some things you can do about it.

Why is my dog afraid of his food or water bowl?

Below are possible causes and what would make each of them more likely.

Allergic reaction

It could be the case that your dog had an allergic reaction to something when eating from the bowl and it has caused your dog to no longer want to eat from it.


Have you ever been in a crowded noisy restaurant and found it difficult to eat? If you have a metal food bowl, your dog’s collar or tag may be clanging against it. This can understandably be irritating and put the dog off eating from their bowl. 

Discouraging training

Many people try to give their dogs training when feeding them by getting their dogs to do things such as wait to eat until being told to. While this can help to improve their obedience, it might be the case that this has had a negative consequence with your dog resulting in them not eating from their bowl. In this case, it could help to try giving your dog their food in their bowl, telling them to eat and then leaving them alone to eat.

Your dog wants to eat alone

Some dogs are shy in certain situations. Some will not poop with an audience. Others will not eat with one. If the bowl is in a high traffic area of the home, your dog may require more privacy during meal time. 

The bowl is too tall

There’s quite a debate about what the height of a dog’s bowl should be. An elevated bowl that allows them to eat without bending down can be great for geriatric dogs for mobility issues. However, it also increases the risk of bloat. Bloat is a life threatening condition that occurs when a dog gets too much air in their digestive system. 

Humans are designed to eat with our neck straight. However, dogs are designed to eat from the ground. When the bowl is elevated, this causes them to ingest air, particularly if they are a large breed dog. 

If your dog has a mobility issue, you may need to use a raised dog bowl. If your dog is small, the sides of the bowl may be too high for them to reach comfortably. 

Your dog does not like the food

Your dog may refuse to eat from the bowl if they don’t like the food. Some dogs are picky eaters, and simply won’t eat some types of dog food. Others may have been fine with eating the food a week ago, but grown bored with it and need a change.

Things to consider

Below are some things to consider to help figure out the main cause.

If your dog did eat from their bowl before

If your dog stopped eating from their bowl suddenly, it would help to consider what else happened when the behavior first started. For example, if it started after your dog had an allergic reaction, it might be the case that your dog associated it with the bowl.

If your dog does eat from their bowl sometimes

If your dog does eat from the bowl sometimes, it would also help to consider what is different when your dog does eat from the bowl. For example, if your dog does do it when you are not around, it could be the case that your dog actually wants to eat without you being around.

How do I get my dog to eat from his bowl?

Below are some options you have when dealing with the behavior.

Change the location

If you suspect there’s too much hustle and bustle around your dog’s dining area, move the location of the bowl. It’s a simple solution that’s well worth a try, especially if the current location is in a high-traffic area. This can also help if your dog has developed a negative association with the food bowl. 

Change the bowl

If your dog seems bored with their bowl or have a negative association with it, get a new bowl. Today’s bowls come in many shapes and sizes, so you can change things up for your pooch. 

Feed your dog smaller sizes

Some dogs are intimidated by large bowls or portion sizes. Many bowls are available as sets with different sizes. You can begin with the smallest size, and feed your dog smaller meals more frequently. Once they are happily completing these small meals, size up and cut down on the number of meals. 

Leave your dog alone

If it seems like your dog wants to be able to eat alone, it could also help to try walking away for a while to see if your dog will eat when you are not around.

Add a topper

Adding a topper instantly makes eating from the bowl much more appealing. Toppers are designed to be tasty. You can purchase toppers at most stores that carry dog food, or you can make your own. 

Instant toppers include plain canned pumpkin, canned fish, chicken, beef, pork, and yogurt. Chicken or beef salt also works well, just be sure to get the low sodium variety.