Why is my dog afraid of eating out of her bowl?
Sounds like a strange question, right?
Oddly, it’s one that comes up more often than you’d think!
Dogs have some baffling food habits that make life interesting for everybody in the house.
You know what I’m talking about – playing with the food bowl, taking food out and eating it on the carpet, or dumping the bowl on the ground.
They might make a mess out of our kitchen, but we still love them.
However, there is one peculiar behavior that freaks some owners.
I’m talking about a dog afraid of eating out of her bowl.
You might think that this is rare behavior, but a quick search around the Internet showed me that a lot of owners had observed this.
But what does it mean and what can you do about it?
If you want to know, keep on reading.
Why Is My Dog Afraid of Eating Out of Her Bowl?
The reasons come down to three things, and they’re all not mutually exclusive: a medical problem, the wrong bowl, or a past trauma.
Let’s take a look at each one for tips on how to deal when your dog is afraid of eating out of her bowl.
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1. Medical problem
There is one important rule you should know when it comes to looking after pets. Any sudden change in their behavior could indicate an illness or a medical emergency.
Dogs don’t go voluntarily without food for very long, and usually, there is a good reason why Roxy doesn’t want to eat her favorite food.
Observe your dog. Does she refuse to go near the bowl at all? Or is she walking around the bowl snuffing the food but not taking a bite? She could be in pain if she is reluctant to eat.
It might not be anything more serious than a tooth pain, but it’s worth checking out. Animals can hide their pain very well and this might be the only sign that something is wrong.
What’s more, it’s not healthy for a dog to go a couple of days without food even if there is no medical issue.
So, the first thing you should do if your dog is afraid of eating of her bowl is to take Roxy to the vet to rule an illness especially if this has been going on for more than a day or two.
2. Metal bowl
Have you recently bought a new metal bowl for Roxy and threw away her plastic one? Then the new bowl might be the culprit here.
Metal bowls make loud noises when they move around, which might have startled and scared your pooch. What’s more, some dogs don’t like it when their bowls slide off the floor.
In addition to this, if your dog is wearing tags or a collar, they will hit the bowl. The repetitive noise might be bothering Roxy to the point where she doesn’t want to come near her bowl.
Remember, when a dog has a negative experience with something, they tend to avoid it if possible.
Another reason why the metal bowl might be scaring your pet is the reflexive surface. Some dogs might freak out if they see their reflection in the bowl and refuse to eat from it. Or the bowl is the wrong shape and your dog thinks it’s dangerous.
You can easily test whether the metal bowl is the problem. Get the old plastic bowl and see if your dog will eat from it.
You can also:
- Move the bowl to a new location
- Buy a ceramic bowl instead of plastic or metal
- Place the bowl on a non-sliding surface
- Remove the tags and the collar before feeding time
- Get elevated dog bowls if you have a huge dog
Avoid bowl issues by getting the right one from the start. Check out our New Dog Owner Checklist for ideas.
3. Traumatic experience
If you have ruled out illness and you’re still using the same bowl, there is one more thing to consider. Your dog might have had a negative experience related to food, and it might have made her wary of the bowl.
Unfortunately, it’s hard to pinpoint the fear factor in such circumstances because the dog can’t tell you what has happened to her.
Sometimes the smallest puppies in the litter can’t eat out of the bowl because the strong ones are smacking them away. If something like that has happened to your dog, it might take her awhile to get used to eating from her bowl.
You can try a flat plate instead of a dog bowl, and see if it does the trick.
Also, yelling or hitting a dog for eating too fast or too messy might leave her traumatized and unwilling to eat out of the bowl. In this case, she just wants to avoid punishment.
You can try feeding her in the crate where she is feeling safe and secure. In the worst case, you might have to leave the food on the floor and mop later, until your dog is comfortable with the bowl.
As you can see, you have to be almost a detective to work out why your dog might be afraid of her bowl. But you shouldn’t ignore this problem or hope that it will go away on its own.
Dogs always have a reason for their actions, and a dog who doesn’t eat will get sick eventually.
What do you think about this odd dog behavior? Has your dog ever been afraid of eating out of her bowl? How did you deal with it? Share your story in the comments.