Imagine dining at a fancy restaurant and dumping your fettucini alfredo on the table cloth once it has been served. To your waiter and your date’s horror, you eagerly plunge your fork into the pasta and gobble it up right from the table. Such a behavior would be inexcusable, and would certainly douse the possibility of a second date. Though it is unimaginable by human standards, our canine companions sometimes make this a part of their daily dining ritual. Once the kibbles are in the bowl, they dump it out and feast happily from the floor. Gross.

Why do dogs do this?

Instinct: Domestic pups can all trace their lineage to wild dog packs and wolves. In nature, a wolf’s instinct is often to take his portion of the kill away to protect it, allowing him to eat without having to fight for his food with other dogs. It is your dog’s instinctive pack mentality that causes this reaction.

Guarding territory: Some dogs even like to bring the food from their bowl to their special “happy place,” whether that’s in the backyard in their favorite patch of shade, or on their fuzzy bed. This is to further establish their own space, or to retreat where they can eat in peace. Removing food communicates “don’t take this – it belongs to me.”

Learned behavior: Dogs sometimes pick up this response from other animals in the house. If dogs are fed together, one might feel the need to run off with his own food; and the other dog will usually follow suit.

How to curb the habit

Change the bowl: Perhaps the stainless steel makes a loud noise whenever the dog’s nose nudges it, or when his metal collar clangs against it. Try using a plastic or rubber bowl instead, and maybe the noise won’t be so unpleasant to him.
Limit the feeding area: Next time, put your pup’s food in a small pen and feed him in that space, where there will not be many options of where he can empty the bowl, or run off with the food.
Feed your dogs separately: If you have more than one pet, then try feeding them in their own bowls in a private/secluded area and they may feel less of a need to run off with their portion.