The reason Dog Ownership Guide decided to write an article on why do dogs take their food to the carpet is because the Head D.O.G. asked herself, “Why does my dog bring his food to the carpet to eat?” Apparently, this question is asked often by dog owners, so we set out to find the reasons why, if it’s okay for dogs to take their food to the carpet, and how to stop it.
Why Do Dogs Take Their Food to the Carpet?
There’s no one reason dogs bring their food to the carpet. Below are all of the reasons for the question: why do dogs take their food to the carpet.
If the dog food is the same color as the food dish, it may be difficult for him/her to see it. This is especially true for older dogs.
Dogs are better able to see their food if it contrasts with the color of the floor. Since many living room rugs are light, it’s easier to see darker-colored dog food.
Dogs’ instincts are to stay with their pack, but for some, they prefer to eat alone. If your dog’s bowl is close to another dog’s bowl, he/she is likely trying to get away from the other dog to eat.
Many pet owners who also have cats in the home witnessed their dogs carrying food to the carpet to eat because they want to get away from the cats around them looking to also enjoy a snack or meal.
Some dogs are very nervous that another dog or pet will steal their food. Taking it to the carpet seems like a logical option since then the dog can protect it easier.
A sign that dogs often show when they are insecure about not having their food all to themselves is growling when eating. Dogs who growl over food may take their food to the carpet in an attempt to keep it from other dogs or pets in the home.
You may notice your dog takes food to the carpet when your other dog is eating. This is common among pack animals, especially big dogs.
Like many wild animals, dogs have a pack mentality. With this pack mentality, there is a dominant canine. A dog that takes food to the carpet floor while another dog is eating is behaving like an outranked animal. Eating at the same time and close to the dominant one, it can cause the dominant one to feel threatened.
Dogs like to have fun like children. Taking food to the living room rug is fun because they get to fill their mouth, spit it out, and then clean up the mess.
It’s also fun to see their humans laugh, smile, point, and discuss with others in the room the strange things they do with their food.
Bringing dog food to the carpet is an evolutionary instinct. According to veterinarian Dr. Julie Albright Keck, DVM, MA, DACVB specializing in veterinary medicine, when wild dogs capture their food, they don’t always stay in the same place they captured it to eat it. They like to drag it to their cave to get away from dominant dogs, and wild animals and relax in a safe place. The same goes for domestic dogs, except they don’t need to capture and kill their food inside of the house.
To satisfy that instinct, domestic dogs “capture their food” by filling their mouths with as much as they can, and then they find a cozy carpet to bring it to and then enjoy every piece of it comfortably.
If your dog eats from a metal bowl, the sound of his/her meta tag clanging or just the sound of teeth or food against it may be irritating him. For a quieter and more peaceful eating experience, the carpet ends up being the ideal place.
Consider swapping the metal bowl for a plastic one or even a paper plate. This will eradicate the noise and save your carpet from dog food stains.
Anxious dogs or hyper dogs have a difficult time staying in one place. Bringing food to the carpet gives them something to do vs. standing in one place. It’s just like an anxious or hyper human walking around while eating because he/she is restless.
Reasons to Stop Your Dog from Eating on the Carpet
Whether you think your dog eating on the carpet is cute or strange, there are reasons to stop your dog from engaging in this behavior.
Increased Risk of Medical Condition
Eating non-food items can be dangerous to a dog’s health. Nonfood items such as carpet fibers should not be consumed by your dog. It can have many foreign bodies in it that could lead to painful medical conditions and long-term medical issues. Read about that here: My Dog Swallowed a Ribbon
You already know this if your dog eats wet food especially. While it can be quite easy to scrub the food off the carpet, most pet owners do not want to do this daily. Finding ways to curtail your dog from eating on the carpet can save time AND money.
This is especially true if there is food coloring added to the food, which is common in dog food. You can learn more about food coloring and if it’s safe for your dog here: Can Dogs Have Food Coloring?
How to Prevent a Dog from Bringing Food to the Carpet
As mentioned above, swapping out metal or stainless steel bowls for a plastic bowl or paper plate is one way. The following are more ways you can prevent it from happening.
- For multi-dog households, separate bowls so they don’t feel as though they are eating together. Putting each dog’s food in different rooms is ideal, but several feet apart also works.
- Make sure the dog food bowl is a different color from the food. White food bowls work well, so opt for white plastic bowls or paper plates.
- Gate off the carpeted area, so your dog(s) will stay on the kitchen floor if they continue to remove food from their bowl.
- Discourage bad habits by picking up the food and placing it back in the food bowl when your dog takes it somewhere else. Do not do this if your dog is food aggressive. Ask your veterinarian or trainer for advice.
- Try a slow feeder dog bowl to give your pup some mental stimulation while eating. It can help hyperactive dogs AND since a dog can only get a small amount each time, it may keep him/her from bringing their food to the carpet.
As a dog owner, you will see certain behavior that may or may not be concerning. Researching it to learn the reasons it happens is a good idea, so you know whether it’s harmful or just a quirky animal behavior you can enjoy.
Why Do Dogs Take Their Food to the Carpet?
Dogs take their food to the carpet because they want privacy, security, and peace when they eat. Some dogs will do it because they just want to lie down and eat something soft. Anxiety and/or hyperactivity can also be causes of why dogs take their food to the carpet. It’s a good idea to discourage your dog from bringing food to the carpet because it can lead to eating a string from the carpet, which could be life-threatening.