Why Does Your Dog Leave Food Around the House? Here’s What to Do

  • By: Andrew
  • Time to read: 6 min.

Feeding time should be a happy time for you and your dog. But it can be frustrating when instead of eating it from the bowl, your dog takes a mouthful, walks away from the bowl, and scatters it all over the floor before eating it in bits. Understanding why your dog exhibits this eating habit can help in putting a stop to it.

If your dog is leaving food on the floor and around the house, it may be because of their pack mentality and guarding instinct. Dogs will naturally move food out of their food bowls to hide it from the competition. You can curb this eating habit by separating them from other pets during feeding time.

Let’s get into more details about this weird eating habit and how to stop it.

Why Your Dog Is Leaving Food on the Floor

While this particular eating behavior is strange, it is common among dogs. For any dog owner, it’s definitely not an efficient way to eat, and cleaning up the mess afterward can be frustrating, to say the least. Let’s go over some reasons why your dog may be leaving bits of food around the house.

Pack Mentality

Most dog experts suggest that pack mentality is the main reason why some dogs take food away from their bowls and pile it up around the house. This guarding instinct is stronger among wolves. You see, in the wild, there’s a lot of competition for food. So, when wolves make a kill, the subordinate members of the pack grab some portion of the food and make for a safer place, so they don’t have to fight with the leaders.

You probably don’t see your dog in the same way as a wolf, but dogs are pack animals, and your dog may still have this lingering instinct.

Different breeds have different levels of pack mentality. Your dog may not take their food as far away as a wolf would, but they can pile them up in different places around the house where they can keep an eye on them. Others may go as far as hiding it behind the couch or under the table.

If you have more than one dog or another pet, you’ll notice that this instinct is very common, but it can also be seen in single-dog households, where the competition doesn’t even seem real.

Your Dog Doesn’t Like Eating Alone

Just like humans, dogs are highly social creatures. While the social structure may be different from breed to breed, some dogs don’t just enjoy eating alone and would prefer to only eat in the safe presence of their owner or another pet.

This eating behavior is actually quite common, especially in rescue dogs. Your dog may find that eating in your presence is more fun than eating alone, so he’ll grab a mouthful and bring it to wherever you are. Although it’s not necessarily a bad thing, it can mean more kibble bits for you to clean up later.

Your Dog Doesn’t Like Their Food Bowl

Another theory is that your furry friend may not like their food bowl. This behavior is more common when you’re feeding your dog with metal bowls. They may not like the metallic noises that the kibble makes in the bowl. They may also be frightened or annoyed by their collar and tags hitting the sides of the bowl.

Because this noise can increase their anxiety or stress them out, they may prefer stuffing some kibble in their mouth and going to another location in the house. Some dogs don’t like their food bowl moving around too much. Some may even find their own reflections on the metal bowl disturbing!

Your Dog Hates Being Watched

Some dogs don’t like being watched while eating. Your dog may prefer taking their food to a more discrete part of the house rather than having everybody gather around watching them. And let’s be honest, some humans don’t find that comfortable too. When your dog grabs a mouthful and makes for the living room, it could either mean that they are shy or worried about what you may be up to if you’re watching them.

Your Dog Does It for Fun

This particular behavior can be quite annoying. As weird as this might sound, some dogs enjoy tipping their food bowls over so that they can have food all over the floor and go on a fun treasure hunt. They see it as a way to satisfy their need to forage.

How to Stop Your Dog Leaving Food Around the House

Whatever may be the reason why your dog is leaving bits of food all over the place, what you need to know now is how to curb this frustrating eating behavior. Let’s take a look at some of the methods that can work.

Check With Your Vet

Consulting your vet in the case of any problem is often the first rule in dog training. If you notice any sudden changes in your dog’s eating habits, check with your vet to see if it’s as a result of an illness. You could worsen the situation by trying to solve a behavioral issue caused by underlying medical problems.

Make Mealtime Private and Peaceful

As mentioned earlier, some dogs have strong guarding instincts and will move their food to a quiet place to protect it from the competition. In this case, the best thing to do is to move their food to a different room, especially if you have other pets in the house. This can also mean feeding them in a secluded or confined area.

If your dog is not comfortable with being watched while eating, eliminate any potential distractions, and create a better environment to help them focus on their meal. Try moving their bowl to a quieter area in the house where there are no children or other pets to distract them. Avoid waiting around to watch them see if they will eat as you can make them nervous or cautious.

Switch Up Their Food Bowl

Another option is to switch to a plastic dish. However, plastic dishes are not so great as they can scratch easily and absorb bacteria and odors. Ceramic or rubber food bowls are better as there is no risk of BPA or accumulation of bacteria.

If you are using a ceramic or stainless food dish, consider removing your dog’s collar or taping their tags together to prevent them from hitting the bowl. If your dog is still scared of the bowl after removing their tags, try laying a washcloth or paper towel over the bowl before placing their food on it. With time, you can uncover more parts of the bowl.

If the food bowl moves around too much, you can use a Velcro to keep it more stable. You may also opt for a non-skid or heavy food bowl if your dog likes tipping their food bowl over.

Other Solutions

If your dog prefers eating in your presence, bring their food bowl close to where the family is eating, so they can feel part of the family dynamic.

You may also consider feeding your dog a different type of food. To make the food more appealing, try adding some dog treats to their bowl. They’ll be tempted by these treats and will have to eat them directly from the bowl.


Dogs can exhibit different feeding habits, and this is just one of the oddest ones. Each dog is different, so we suggest studying your dog and finding out what may be wrong. The first thing you can do is check with your vet to see if there are any underlying medical conditions.

You can also switch to a different type of food bowl, make your dog’s mealtime private and eliminate all distractions, occasionally top off their food with special treats, and experiment with a different type of food.