Why Do Dogs Carry Food Away from the Bowl? Uncovering the Mystery

Dogs are fascinating creatures and can sometimes do things that leave us scratching our heads. One example of such strange behaviors is carrying food away from their bowl and eating elsewhere.

As a dog owner, this can be confusing and frustrating. Whether you’re a first-time dog owner or a seasoned expert, understanding why your furry friend exhibits this eating habit can help you deal with it.

In this article, we’ll explore some reasons why dogs carry food away from their bowl and provide tips on better managing this behavior.

Why Do Dogs Carry Food Away from the Bowl?

why do dogs carry food away from bowl

There are several reasons dogs take food away from their bowl, including instinctual and learned behaviors. Let’s go over some of them.

Instinctual Behavior

If your dog is carrying food away from its bowl, it may be due to its pack mentality. Dogs, as descendants of wolves, are pack animals and have inherited instincts from their ancestors. One of these instincts is to carry pieces of food away to a safer place to eat. This behavior is known as “hoarding” and is common among dogs.

In the wild, wolves hunt in packs and must protect their food from other animals. Carrying food away from the bowl might be your dog’s way of protecting it, even though it’s not in the wild and competition for food is non-existent.

Lack of Trust

Another reason why dogs may carry food away from their bowl is because of a lack of trust. If your dog is stressed or anxious, it may feel the need to eat somewhere safer. This can be due to a change in environment or the arrival of a new pet in the house.

Similarly, if a dog has experienced a traumatic event such as an attack by another animal, it may have developed fear and anxiety towards its food and may carry it away to a place it considers safer.

Your Dog Doesn’t Like the Bowl

The answer to the question, “why do dogs carry food away from the bowl?” may be as simple as a lack of interest in the bowl itself. Your dog may have a preference for a certain type of bowl, whether it’s made of a certain material, or has a certain shape or size. 

Dogs can be picky like humans, and just because a bowl looks good to us, doesn’t mean it’s perfect for our furry friends.

It could also be that the bowl is too small for their needs, and they feel cramped while eating. If the bowl is too big, they may feel like they’re swimming in their food. In the end, it’s all about experimenting and finding the right fit for your dog.

Health Issues

Health issues can also make your dog carry food away from its bowl. It’s important to be aware of this possibility and consult with your veterinarian if you suspect your dog may have a medical issue.

For example, if your dog is experiencing dental problems or jaw pain, it may prefer to take a mouthful from the bowl and go eat it on a softer surface. Digestive problems like nausea, stomach pain, or acid reflux can also make your pooch carry its food away and only eat small amounts at a time.

For the Fun of It

As frustrating as this might sound, dogs are naturally curious creatures, and they love to explore and play. Carrying food away from the bowl could be a way to add some excitement to their mealtime. It’s like playing a game of hide-and-seek with food.

What to Do If Your Dog Carries Food Away from Its Bowl

dog and food

As a dog owner, it can be nerve-racking if your furry friend is carrying food away from its bowl. However, there are steps you can take to address this behavior and help your pet feel more comfortable and secure while eating.

Make Mealtime Private and Safe

Providing a safe and private eating area for your dog can help manage this habit. This can be especially helpful for dogs with a traumatic past or those prone to anxiety. Eating in a quiet and secluded area away from the rest of the family can help reduce their stress and anxiety levels, making them feel more at ease.

A private eating location can also help you address any instinctual behaviors as they won’t see the need to compete with other animals for food.

Use Positive Reinforcement

Positive reinforcement is a great way to encourage good behavior in dogs. Reward your dog with treats or praise when it eats from its bowl. This helps to reinforce the behavior and increase the likelihood of it happening in the future.

Experiment with Different Types of Bowls

Try feeding your dog with different types of bowls and materials to see what works best. Some dogs may prefer certain types of bowls, such as metal over plastic bowls.

You can also try experimenting with different materials like stainless steel, ceramic, or silicone. The size and shape of the bowl are also important as some dogs may prefer a shallow bowl over a deeper one.

Establish a Routine

Establishing a routine can help address this feeding behavior. By providing consistent feeding times and sticking to a schedule, your dog will learn when to expect its meals and may be less inclined to carry it to a different location.

Additionally, consider using a designated feeding spot, this will help create a positive association with that spot and encourage your dog to eat from its bowl.

Consult a Vet or Professional

If you suspect that your dog’s change in eating habits is due to an illness, it’s best to check with your vet immediately. Your vet can do a physical examination and may recommend diagnostic tests to rule out any underlying health problems.

You may also consult with a professional dog trainer or behaviorist. They have the expertise to evaluate your dog’s behavior, identify the cause of the problem, and provide you with specific advice on how to address it.


So, why do dogs carry food away from the bowl? Well, dogs can exhibit many quirky eating habits, and this is one of the most frustrating. However, understanding the reasons behind this behavior can help in managing it.

Try changing the food bowl, creating a private feeding area, using positive reinforcement, and establishing a routine. If all else fails, consult with your vet or professional trainer. Remember that each dog is unique, so it’s best to be patient when dealing with them.

Recent Posts