This can be a rather crazy-making behavior if you enjoy a clean floor, and is especially icky if you’re also a raw feeder with wall-to-wall carpeting! Unfortunately, it can be difficult to nail down exactly why your dog performs this odd “I prefer to dine away from my bowl” behavior.
For example, I’ve known dogs who moved kibble from the bowl to the floor before eating it, but the problem disappeared once they were switched to a more species-appropriate diet. Many dogs find real food so delicious they don’t want to waste time playing with their dinner – they want to dive right in.
Some experts believe the behavior is a feature of pack mentality. According to Dr. Julie Albright-Keck, an assistant of Veterinary Behavior at the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine, when wild dogs make a kill, the less dominant members of the pack drag pieces of food off and eat privately to avoid being challenged by a higher ranking canine.
And while your own dog may have zero competition for his food in your household, he may still feel an instinctive urge to protect his chow.
It’s also possible the noise of food against a metal bowl, or the clanging of his tags against the bowl disturbs him, and he prefers to eat without distractions.
To attempt to curb this behavior, if you’re feeding your dog kibble, I recommend transitioning him to a more biologically appropriate diet to see if that does the trick. It will definitely improve your dog’s overall health, if not his table manners. You might also want to try switching to a non-toxic ceramic food bowl or a regular dinner plate if you suspect your dog is sensitive to the noise created by eating from a metal bowl.
If after changing to a better diet and different dinnerware he’s still moving food to the floor, see if moving his feeding spot to a more secluded area curbs the behavior. And certainly if you have other dogs in the family, everyone should be separated for meals so there’s no competition for food and you can monitor who is eating what, and how much.