Why Does My Dog Drop His Food On The Floor Before He Eats It?

Why Does My Dog Drop His Food On The Floor Before He Eats It?

You might have noticed that your dog sometimes drops his food on the floor before he eats it. It might seem like a strange habit, but there’s a reason why dogs do this.

Dogs have a natural instinct to keep their food safe by burying it in the ground. This is known as “scavenging”. By dropping his food on the floor, your dog is essentially burying it and marking it as his own. He knows that he can come back to it later and that it’s safe from other animals.

While you might not be able to completely replicate your dog’s natural scavenging behavior, there are a few things you can do to help him feel more comfortable eating his food. In this post, we’ll explain why dogs drop their food and offer some tips for making mealtimes easier for both you and your pup.

Why Does My Dog Drop His Food On The Floor Before He Eats It

The Instinct To Bury Food

Have you ever wondered why your dog drops his food on the floor before he eats it? It’s actually a pretty common behavior. In the wild, dogs would bury their food as a way of storing it for later.

So even though we now provide our dogs with plenty of food, they still have that instinct to bury their food. And when they see their food on the floor, they think, “Hey, this is perfect for burying!”

There’s no need to worry about your dog dropping his food on the floor. It’s just his way of trying to emulate what he would do in the wild. And as long as he’s being fed regularly, he’s not going to miss out on any nutrition.

Hiding Food From Other Animals

You’ve probably noticed that your dog likes to drop his food on the floor before he eats it. But do you know why?

Most dogs will drop their food on the floor as a way of hiding it from other animals. They’re basically trying to protect their food from being stolen. And this makes perfect sense, because dogs are natural scavengers.

So if you’ve ever wondered why your dog does this, now you know. It’s just his way of protecting his food.

Displacement Behaviors

Dogs often drop their food on the floor before eating it as a displacement behavior.

What this means is that they’re doing something to distract themselves from whatever is making them anxious or uncomfortable. It could be anything from a scary noise outside to having people in their space who they’re not comfortable with.

Dropping their food is a way for dogs to take control of the situation and make themselves feel better. They’re in charge of where their food goes, and they’re not letting anything bother them. Cool, right?

Anxiety or Stress

Dogs sometimes drop their food on the floor before they eat it as a way of dealing with anxiety or stress. It’s thought that this behavior started as a way for dogs to hide their food from potential predators, and it’s still seen in some dogs today.

There are a few things you can do to help your dog feel more comfortable when eating. Try feeding him in a quiet and calm environment, and make sure he has plenty of water and exercise. You can also try some calming supplements, like thiamine or L-theanine, which can help to relax your dog.

Lack of Interest in the Food Itself

It’s not uncommon for dogs to drop their food on the floor before they eat it. In fact, there are a few different reasons why this might happen.

One possibility is that the dog isn’t particularly interested in the food itself. Maybe it’s not something that he’s used to eating, or maybe it doesn’t look or smell appetizing. If this is the case, then you might need to switch up your dog’s diet and find something that he likes better.

Another possibility is that the dog is anxious or stressed about his environment. Maybe there are too many people around, or he’s not used to being in that particular place. If this is the case, then you might need to create a more relaxed atmosphere for him when he eats.

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Whatever the reason may be, it’s important to pay attention to your dog’s eating habits and try to figure out what’s causing him distress. With some patience and experimentation, you should be able to get to the bottom of things and help your dog feel more comfortable when he eats.

Medical Conditions

It’s possible that your dog is dropping his food on the floor before he eats it because of a medical condition. Some common conditions that might cause this include:

  • Intestinal worms: These parasites can cause your dog to lose his appetite and make him feel sick.
  • Diabetes: Dogs with diabetes may not be able to feel the pain associated with dropping their food, so they continue to do it.
  • Dental problems: If your dog has dental problems, he may find it difficult or painful to chew his food properly. This can lead him to drop it on the floor before he eats it.

If you’re concerned about your dog’s eating habits, it’s best to take him to the vet for a check-up. The vet will be able to tell you if there’s a medical reason for your dog’s behavior and help you address the problem.

How To Stop Dog From Dropping Food

There are several ways to stop your dog from dropping food, depending on the reason behind the behavior. Here are some approaches you can try:

Addressing the underlying cause:

  • Eating too fast:
    • Slow-feeder bowls: These have ridges or mazes that make it harder for the dog to gulp down food, encouraging slower eating and reducing the chance of dropping kibble.
    • Puzzle feeders: These require the dog to work to access their food, providing mental stimulation and slowing down eating.
    • Scatter feeding: Spread kibble on a mat or snuffle mat, encouraging the dog to sniff and forage for their food.
    • Smaller, more frequent meals: This can help prevent over-excitement and scarfing down food at mealtimes.
  • Dental issues: If your dog has dental problems, chewing may be uncomfortable, leading them to drop food. Schedule a checkup with your veterinarian to rule out any dental issues.
  • Excitement or anxiety: If your dog is excited or anxious at mealtimes, they may be more likely to drop food. Provide a calm and quiet environment for meals and avoid giving them attention while they’re eating.
  • Boredom: A bored dog may play with their food or try to eat it too quickly. Provide them with plenty of mental stimulation through toys, training, and walks.

Addressing the dropping behavior:

  • Train the “leave it” command: This teaches your dog to stop picking up food or objects on command. Use positive reinforcement with treats or praise to reward them for leaving the food alone.
  • Supervise mealtimes: Pick up any dropped food immediately and don’t let your dog eat it from the floor. This helps prevent them from forming a habit of dropping food intentionally.
  • Use a placemat: A large, waterproof placemat can catch any dropped food and make cleanup easier.

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Why Does My Dog Spit Out His Food, Then Eat It?

There are several reasons why your dog might be spitting out their food and then eating it again. Here are some possibilities:

Picky Eating:

  • Texture or taste: Some dogs are more sensitive to textures or flavors than others. They might initially try a piece of food but then spit it out if they don’t like the way it feels or tastes.
  • Spoiled food: Check the food expiration date and ensure it’s fresh. Even a slight smell or change in taste can deter your dog.

Digestive Issues:

  • Upset stomach: If your dog has an upset stomach, they might find some foods difficult to digest and reject them initially. However, after some time, their stomach might feel better, and they may attempt to eat it again.
  • Food allergies: Check for any signs of allergies like vomiting, diarrhea, or skin irritation after they eat. Consult your vet if you suspect an allergy.

Dental Problems:

  • Toothache or gum discomfort: Chewing and swallowing can be painful with dental issues, causing your dog to initially reject the food but try again later when the pain subsides.
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Behavioral Reasons:

  • Attention-seeking: Sometimes, dogs spit out food to see if they get a reaction from their owner. If they get attention, even negative attention, they might repeat the behavior.
  • Boredom: In some cases, spitting out food might be a way to entertain themselves if they’re bored.

Other Potential Causes:

  • Eating too fast: Some dogs gulp down their food without properly chewing, leading to discomfort and spitting it out. Slow-feeder bowls or puzzle feeders can help.
  • Competition: If you have multiple pets, your dog might instinctively “hide” some food by taking it out of the bowl, even if they intend to eat it later.

What to Do:

  • Observe your dog: Watch for any other symptoms besides spitting and eating the food. This can help narrow down the possible causes.
  • Schedule a vet checkup: If you’re concerned about your dog’s health or the behavior persists, consult your veterinarian to rule out any underlying medical issues.
  • Adjust food: Consider changing food brands or textures to see if your dog prefers something different.
  • Slow down eating: Use slow-feeder bowls or puzzle feeders to encourage slower eating and better digestion.
  • Ignore attention-seeking behavior: Don’t react if you think your dog is spitting out food for attention. Reward them only when they eat calmly.
  • Provide enrichment: Keep your dog mentally stimulated with toys, training, and walks to minimize boredom-related behaviors.

What To Do If Your Dog Refuses To Eat Dog Food?

There are several possible reasons why your dog might refuse to eat their dog food, and the best course of action depends on the cause. Here are some steps you can take:

Observe your dog:

  • Changes in behavior: Look for any signs of illness like lethargy, vomiting, diarrhea, or changes in appetite for other things.
  • Food pickiness: Pay attention to how they interact with the food. Do they sniff it and turn away, or take a bite and spit it out?
  • Dental issues: Check for signs of oral pain like difficulty chewing, drooling, or bad breath.

Address potential health issues:

  • Schedule a vet check: They can rule out any underlying medical conditions affecting their appetite.
  • Consider recent changes: Have you switched their food brand recently? Could they be experiencing digestive upset from a new ingredient or medication?

Address potential behavioral issues:

  • Picky eating: Try offering different food options to see if they show preference. Consider mixing their kibble with wet food or adding a topper for more flavor.
  • Stress or anxiety: If there have been recent changes in their environment or routine, consider providing calming aids or consulting a behaviorist.
  • Competition: If you have multiple pets, ensure each has their own food bowl and space to eat without feeling threatened.

Why Does My Dog Take His Food To His Bed?

There are several possible reasons why your dog might be taking their food to their bed:

Instinctual Behavior:

  • Pack mentality: In the wild, dogs would sometimes stash or cache leftover food to secure it for later. This instinct might persist in your dog, even though they don’t need to do it for survival anymore. Your dog’s bed might feel like a safe and secure place to “store” their food.
  • Protecting their food: This is more common in multi-dog households where competition for food exists. By taking their food to their bed, your dog might feel more secure and less likely to have it stolen by another pet.

Comfort and Preference:

  • Soft texture: Some dogs prefer eating on softer surfaces like their bed compared to the hard floor or bowl.
  • Peace and quiet: Your dog might enjoy eating in a more peaceful and secluded location like their bed compared to the hustle and bustle of the kitchen or living room.

Other Possibilities:

  • Dental problems: Chewing might be uncomfortable due to dental issues, leading them to move the food to a softer surface like their bed for easier consumption.
  • Boredom: Some dogs might take their food and “play” with it before eating, and their bed might be a preferred location for this activity.
  • Attention-seeking: If you react in any way when they move their food, even negatively, they might repeat the behavior for attention.

What to Do:

  • Observe your dog: See if there are any other symptoms or behavioral changes that might provide clues.
  • Consider changing their bowl: Try a wider, sturdier bowl or a different material to see if they prefer it.
  • Feed in a quieter location: If there’s a lot of activity around their feeding area, try a quieter spot.
  • Provide enrichment: Keep your dog mentally stimulated with toys, training, and walks to reduce boredom-related behaviors.
  • Consult your vet: If you’re concerned about their health or the behavior persists, rule out any medical issues.
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How Can I Encourage My Dog To Eat?

Encouraging your dog to eat can be a frustrating experience, but there are several things you can try! Here are some steps you can take based on the possible reasons behind their lack of appetite:

If you suspect a medical issue:

  • Consult your veterinarian immediately: They can rule out any underlying health problems that might be affecting their appetite, such as dental issues, digestive problems, or infections.

If your dog is a picky eater:

  • Offer a variety of food options: Try different brands, flavors, textures (wet, dry, kibble, etc.), and even homemade meals (with vet approval).
  • Warm the food slightly: This can make it more appealing, especially for kibble.
  • Use food toppers: Add a small amount of something your dog loves, like cooked chicken, salmon, or yogurt (vet-approved), to their food for extra flavor and incentive.
  • Feed in a quiet, calm environment: Avoid distractions like other pets or loud noises.
  • Use slow-feeder bowls: These prevent gulping and encourage slower eating, which can aid digestion and make them feel more satisfied.
  • Stick to a regular feeding schedule: This helps regulate their hunger and digestive system. Don’t leave food out all day, as it can make them less interested in mealtimes.
  • Be patient and consistent: Don’t give in to their demands or change their routine too often. Establishing healthy eating habits takes time.

If your dog is stressed or anxious:

  • Identify the source of stress: Has there been a recent change in their environment or routine? Are there other pets or people in the house causing them anxiety?
  • Create a calm and relaxing environment: Provide them with safe spaces and hiding spots, and avoid loud noises or stressful situations.
  • Consider calming aids: Pheromone diffusers, calming treats, or supplements can help manage anxiety in some dogs. Consult your vet before using any new products.
  • Seek professional help: If your dog’s anxiety is severe, a certified animal behaviorist can offer personalized guidance and training.


Some people believe that dogs drop their food on the floor to show that they’re in charge, while others believe that they do it because they’re unsure of the food’s quality.

No matter what the reason is, it’s important to be understanding and help your dog overcome this behavior. You can do this by feeding your dog in a calm and controlled environment, and gradually raising the food’s height so he has to put less effort into dropping it.

Dogs are creatures of habit, and once they get into the bad habit of dropping their food on the floor, it can be hard to break them out of it. But with patience and perseverance, you can help your dog overcome this frustrating behavior.


Should I take my dog’s food away if he doesn’t eat it?

Consult your veterinarian if your dog’s refusal to eat persists for more than 24 hours, especially if they exhibit other concerning symptoms.
Consistency is key: Stick to regular feeding schedules and avoid giving table scraps to encourage healthy eating habits.
Patience is important: Addressing underlying causes and establishing new routines may take time, so be patient and consistent with your approach.

How long should I wait if my dog isn’t eating?

Puppies under 6 months: Consult your vet immediately if they haven’t eaten in 12 hours.
Healthy adult dogs: You can wait up to 24-48 hours, but monitor their behavior closely and consult your vet if they show other symptoms.
Senior dogs or dogs with health issues: Consult your vet within 24 hours if they haven’t eaten.

Should I force my dog to eat if he doesn’t want to?

No, you should not force your dog to eat if they don’t want to. Forcing a dog to eat can be harmful and stressful.

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