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Why Does My Dog Leave Food on the Floor? 7 Vet-Reviewed Reasons

Written by: Kit Copson

Last Updated on June 6, 2024 by Dogster Team

dog eating dog food

Why Does My Dog Leave Food on the Floor? 7 Vet-Reviewed Reasons

VET APPROVED

Dr. Paola Cuevas Photo

REVIEWED & FACT-CHECKED BY

Dr. Paola Cuevas

Veterinarian, MVZ

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

Learn more »

When dogs leave food all over the floor, it can be somewhat perplexing. After all, dogs are supposed to enjoy eating their food, so why are they moving it out of the bowl to various locations around your house or tipping up their dish to where food is scattered—or worse, splattered if you’re feeding wet food—all over your kitchen floor?

There are a few possible reasons why your dog may be displaying this kind of behavior, and in this article, we’re going to investigate this further.

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The 7 Reasons Your Dog Leaves Food on the Floor

1. Your Dog Is Bored

Sometimes, bored or stressed-out dogs play with their food as a form of entertainment or to get your attention. This could include evacuating the food from its bowl and tossing or batting it about or tipping the bowl over and emptying the contents all over the floor.

The best way to combat this is to exercise your dog prior to feeding, leaving some time between the exercise and feeding time to let your dog settle. Schedule playtime sessions throughout the day and provide mentally stimulating toys if you’re going to be out of the house for a while.

bernese mountain dog sitting on the ground
Image Credit: Alexander Dummer, Pexels

2. They’re Protecting Their Food

If you have more than one dog, your food litterer may be taking food from the bowl and moving it away from the pack in order to protect it because they’re anxious about the possibility of it being stolen. According to Dr. Julie Albright-Keck, DVM, MA, DACVB, subordinate dogs may do this to avoid a fight breaking out with more dominant members of the pack.

If you spot this behavior, you might want to consider moving your dog’s bowl to a more private area where they feel less threatened by possible competition.

That said, if you only have one dog and see them moving food away from their bowl, it’s possible that they previously had to protect their food, particularly if they’re a rescue dog and the behavior has stuck. It could also just be their instincts taking hold.


3. The Dish Makes a Noise

If you use a metal dish for your dog’s bowl, it may make a clattering sound when moved. This sort of noise may frighten or stress out some dogs, resulting in them taking food away from the bowl to eat instead. If this sounds about right, it might be a good idea to check out dishes that don’t make as much noise to replace it with.

dog sniffing sundays dog food from metal bowl


4. Your Dog Feels Lonely

Some dogs feel more comfortable eating when their humans are around. If your dog’s eating spot is in a secluded area, they may bring their food—or, in some cases, the whole bowl—over to where you’re at so they can join you while they eat. Dogs are social animals and some enjoy companionship when eating just like humans do.


5. You’re Overfeeding Your Dog

If your dog is leaving a lot of food on the floor, you may want to check that they’re being fed the right portion sizes for their needs. If you offer too much food, they may leave the food they don’t want all over the floor.

To combat this, only offer food at scheduled mealtimes and measure out portion sizes to make sure they’re getting just the right amount they need. Remove any leftovers when they’re done eating to avoid them spilling them out onto the floor.

Make sure you’re feeding your dog the right amount, check out our dog food calculator here:

The exact amount of calories an individual animal needs to maintain a healthy weight is variable and influenced by many factors including genetics, age, breed, and activity level. This tool is meant to be used only as a guideline for healthy individuals and does not substitute veterinary advice 


6. Your Dog Is Being Playful

Mischievous dogs may tip over their bowl or toss their food around simply because it amuses them! Dogs are playful animals by nature and some see even their food as an extra toy to play with.

Similar to combatting this behavior in bored or anxious dogs, the best way to deal with this is to schedule dedicated play times with your dog and offer plenty of toys to distract them from making a mess with their food.


7. Your Dog Doesn’t Like the Food

Another possibility is that your dog simply isn’t a fan of what’s on offer. They may try to let you know that they don’t like their food by tipping up the bowl and barely touching what’s available. If this is the case, a change of food may be in order.

dog with a food bowl
Image By: Adriana Morales, Pixabay

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Conclusion

To conclude, the reasons for your dog leaving food all over the floor range from boredom and stress to your dog not liking the food on offer. If you suspect that anxiety may be behind your dog’s unusual behavior around the food bowl, consult your vet or a dog behavioralist to get to the bottom of the situation.

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Featured Image Credit: Unsplash

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