Do you have a pet who takes a mouthful of food, walks away, drops it on the floor, and then eats small bits of it away from the bowl, possibly even in a corner? This is a question asked by many owners. This is more common in dogs, but cats may also do it. I found this article by Langley Cornwell that addresses this issue.
Many animal experts agree that pack mentality is one reason why dogs will go to their dinner dish, remove tasty morsels of their food, and take it someplace else in the home or yard to eat it. Some dogs will just go a short distance away from their dishes, and others will go far away or even to a hiding spot such as behind the couch or under the table to eat their food.
The biggest reason for this behavior is instinct. Dogs have this natural pack mentality, and depending on factors such as breed, training, and family line, some dogs have this instinct more strongly than others. If you've ever watched wolves on a nature show, you might be familiar with the feeding frenzy that is wild animals eating.
You probably don't see your pampered little pooch in the same way, but some of that instinct may be lingering. When he moves that food away, your dog is saying, "This is mine. Don't take it."
Fighting is risky for most dogs, so rather than stay in the pack and fight for what is theirs, they will snag a piece or two and run away with it. This means they get to eat without the risk of a fight. It also ensures they get some of it without another dog trying to take it away.
You are more likely to see your pet do this if you have more than one dog in the home, or even another pet. If you've ever seen your dog look like he is hiding food from the cat, this might be why. However, even if you only have one dog in the home, that instinct
is still there.
One way to prevent this is to feed multiple animals separately so they do not react to a perceived threat.
Other Reasons Dogs Do This
While pack mentality is the most common reason some dogs will eat their food away from their bowl, there are other reasons. One is loneliness. If your dog food bowl is in one room and the family is in the other, your dog may bring his food to you because he's feeling lonely. Dogs naturally long for companionship, so he may just want to see you or be near you while he eats.
What about Cats?
If you have a cat that eats his food away from the bowl, the reasons could be varied. One reason is that a cat's primal instinct is very much the same as a dog's pack mentality; they want to get their food away from the (instinctual) fray so they can eat it in peace.
Cats may also do this because some felines don't like their food and water bowls near one another. If you have the food in a combined dish, or you place the food near the water bowl, your cat may grab a few bites of food and run off with it because she doesn't want to be near the water. You can fix this by moving the dishes apart.
Do you have a dog or cat that eats his food away from the bowl? Now that you know why, it makes sense, doesn't it?
If you have other questions about dog and cat behavior contact Dr. Underwood of Best Friends Vet Mobile and Trumann Animal Clinic at firstname.lastname@example.org.