It can be a peculiar sight: After you put food in your dog’s bowl, he takes a mouthful, walks across the room, drops it onto your carpet and then munches away. And he repeats this curious ritual until his chow is all gone.
It doesn’t seem like an efficient way to eat — not to mention that he’s getting crumbs on your rug.
So what gives?
Possible Reasons Behind the Curious Mealtime Behavior
The answer to this propensity lies in two words: pack mentality.
When dogs in the wild make a kill, the outranked animals drag pieces of food away so they don’t have to fight the leader or a more dominant canine for it, says Dr. Julie Albright, MA, DVM, DACVB, an assistant professor of veterinary behavior at the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine.
“Fighting is obviously very risky, so most animals, especially subordinate ones, will go to great lengths to avoid an altercation,” says Dr. Albright.
Although the competition in your house may not even be real — particularly if you only have one dog — it’s his evolutionary instinct taking over.
Another possibility: If you use a metal bowl, the noise of the food moving around in the dish or even his collar tags hitting the side can be frightening or annoying, notes Dr. Albright, so he may be taking the kibble away from the trigger of the sound.
How to Put the Kibosh on This Kibble Ritual
If you want to curb this unusual eating behavior, Dr. Albright suggests swapping metal bowls for plastic versions or paper plates to rule out issues with noise.
“If the dog still takes the food away, find a more secluded or confined area for him to eat,” she says. “And if there are other dogs in the house, separate them at feeding time to allow for privacy, so there’s no threat of competition — either real or imagined.”