Why Do Dogs Carry Food Away From Their Bowl To Eat It?

chocolate lab puppy eating kibble next to their bowl

Some dogs scarf down food so quickly they need a slow feeder bowl while others will take a mouthful of food, move it away from their bowl, and eat it. Although it doesn’t make sense from a human perspective, there are some reasons for it from your dog’s perspective. Why do dogs carry food away from their bowl to eat it? Here are a few reasons they could be doing it:

1. It Could Be A Residual Instinct

Moving or carrying food away from their bowl to eat it could be a residual instinct that your dog does without really thinking about it. In the wild, food can be scarce and is often a competition. You have to take what you can get, when you can get it, and you might have to fight for it.

When it comes to wolves, if there is a wolf that is unwilling to fight others or challenge a more dominant wolf for their portion, they will take what they can grab and move to a safer place where they can eat it without having to worry about competition or injury.

Your dog could be doing something similar, especially if they share a bowl or feeding area with other dogs. It could just be a way to be more relaxed while eating and to avoid competition or fights over food.

2. They Might Be Staking Their Claim

A lot of dogs that do this don’t tend to go too far from the bowl. After all, they want to keep an eye on the main source of food even as they enjoy the smaller portion they’ve carried away.

However, taking a portion of food and carrying it elsewhere, even if it’s still close to the bowl, is a clear message of ownership. Your dog could be staking their claim and essentially telling others not to touch it.

3. Your Dog Could Be Lonely

Although many dogs will stay near the bowl when they carry food away, some dogs will end up in a different room entirely. If this is happening, take a closer look at the situation. If your dog’s bowl is in another room and they are bringing their food to where you are to eat it, they may just be lonely and looking for company.

If they aren’t trying to make sure you can’t get their food, they might just want your company while they are eating. At the same time, your dog feels safe with you. So, this could also be a way for them to protect themselves and their food while eating, even if there are no actual threats.

4. It Might Be The Bowl

Moving food out of the bowl to eat it seems to be common in dogs that are eating hard kibble out of metal bowls. It could be possible that your dog doesn’t like the noise kibble makes in the bowl or their tags hitting the bowl as they are eating it. Other possibilities could be related to the feel or smell of the bowl.

You can try changing to a different dog food bowl if this behavior is making a mess on your carpet. You could also try putting a mat down under their bowls to see if they’ll eat from there if they continue carrying food away from their bowls. You can try a few things to see if it makes a difference. If it’s not causing issues for you, then you can also just let your dog do their thing.

5. Your Dog Might Want Privacy

Another potential reason your dog may carry food away from their bowl to eat it could be your dog wanting more privacy or seclusion while they are eating. If their bowl is in a busy or loud area and they are moving to a quieter area to eat, you may want to consider moving their bowl to a quieter, more secluded area.

Some dogs may not mind having you nearby while they are eating or having a lot of activity going on and some dogs may prefer some privacy, seclusion, and quiet. Taking a closer look at the differences between where your dog’s bowl is located and where they are taking food to eat can help you determine whether this is the case.

You may not ever need to answer this question. But, if your dog moves their food away from their bowl to eat, now you know a few reasons why they might be doing it. And, if anyone ever asks you, “why do dogs carry food away from their bowl to eat it?”, you’ll have a few answers to share with them.

Who knows? Maybe it will help you win at trivia someday. At the very least, figuring it out for your dog could be valuable insight for setting up a feeding station for your dog.