Of dogs’ habits that leave owners shaking their heads, one of the ones near the top of the list is carrying their food from their bowl to another room before eating it. Why do some dogs engage in this practice?
It’s not entirely clear. “Dogs can be funny, ritual-loving creatures,” says the head of the Tufts Animal Behavior Clinic, Stephanie Borns-Weil, DVM. “Some of their behaviors can have an almost compulsive quality to them.” And taking food away from the bowl to eat it privately in another area of the house is sometimes one of them.
Of course, there could be a practical reason, too. A dog may feel he is at risk of losing his meal to another and “doesn’t want to have to look over his shoulder as he eats,” Dr. Borns-Weil says. Some believe that a dog who feels vulnerable because he sees himself as relatively low in his social group may be more inclined than others to move his food to a different spot so no other dog can get to it — even if he’s the only dog in the house. Perhaps if he lived in the wild rather than as a pet, he would have waited his turn to grab his share of the kill, then run away with it to protect his meal from usurpers.
If your dog does happen to be one of those who takes his food to a far-away place to eat it, don’t bother paying it too much mind. The behavior can seem a little paranoid, but if it makes the dog feel settled — and he’s not dragging wet food across your expensive rug — who’s it hurting?