Dogs do a lot of weird things like barking on their own food. While this behavior is usually harmless, it’s still important to know the reason behind it. It will help you assess whether your dog needs help. So why does my dog bark at his food? It could be due to a change in diet, resource guarding, fear, or behavioral issues.
Below, I discussed these possible scenarios, and if you have to do something about it:
Reasons why dogs bark at their food
1. You changed your dog’s food.
One of the common reasons why dogs bark toward their food is the sudden change. You likely switched the dog to a new diet. And since it tastes and smells different, your pet will become confused. Dogs who love their previous food will surely become upset when you change it.
However, you have to check your dog’s behavior while barking. Does it wag its tail and look at you? If so, this is a sign of appreciation. It’s your dog’s way of saying that the food is good. Some would even howl in between bites.
But if your dog has pinned ears, tucked tail, and a stationary tail, your dog isn’t happy. Your pet may not eat the food or even try to flip its bowl out of frustration.
2. Your dog feels threatened.
Another possible reason for the barking is resource guarding. Dogs are highly food-driven, and when someone tries to steal their food, they will guard it by barking and exhibiting other aggressive actions.
Your dog’s resource guarding can be triggered by the presence of another dog. Your pet thinks that the other canine will steal their food, which leads to barking and growling. In this case, the barking isn’t directed to the food but the other animal nearby.
Take note that a person, even you, as the owner, can trigger food aggression in some cases. It’s essential to train your dog out of it as resource guarding can branch out to other aggressive tendencies.
3. Your dog is scared of the bowl.
Is your dog barking and taking a step back while eating? It’s possible that your pet got scared of something. It’s possible that the dog’s collar tag clinks on the food bowl. The sudden sound out of nowhere is enough to scare a jumpy canine.
Also, if your pet’s bowl is shiny, the dog’s reflection might be the culprit. Your dog will repeatedly take a step back and bark as it sees its reflection. It’s quite funny, but it really happens to some canines.
4. Your dog feels pain while eating.
On a serious note, it’s also possible that your dog is feeling pain while eating. The discomfort leads your dog to bark and growl out of frustration.
Your pet probably has dental problems causing pain when chewing. It’s important to bring the dog to the vet if it occurs every mealtime. A quick check on your dog’s mouth will reveal a lot, especially if you’re not brushing its teeth regularly.
5. Your dog wants to communicate.
Also, your dog is probably trying to communicate something by barking on its food. It could be a happy bark or a stressed bark – its body language will tell.
Some dogs will keep barking on their food if they want more or if you put them on a diet. Also, your dog probably wants something on its food. Maybe your pet wants it warmer or placed on a different spot.
6. Your dog is anxious.
Lastly, your dog is possibly anxious. When my dog Sherlock was still a puppy, he will keep barking until I watch him eat. When I try to leave, he will stop eating and bark again. It’s like him saying, ‘Hey, dad, don’t leave me!”. This went on for a few months, then he eventually outgrew it when we got our cat, Watson. They are now mealtime buddies.
In this scenario, my dog feels insecure eating alone. It’s mainly due to the fact that he’s eating with his back in the open. Such a position makes dogs vulnerable, and they need someone to watch over while they finish their food.
How do I get my dog to stop barking on its food?
- Training is necessary. For resource guarding canines, desensitization and training are necessary to curb aggressive behavior. You need to teach your dog that the presence of another canine or person isn’t a threat to its food, toys, and other belongings.
- Remove the collar tag. If your dog gets jumpy on the sound of its collar tag, it’s best to remove it. This way, the pooch will not bark and become agitated during mealtimes.
- Try changing the bowl’s location. Another trick you can try is taking the dog bowl to a different spot. A change of location might be the solution you’re looking for.
- Keep mealtimes calm. For nervous dogs, it’s important to keep mealtimes quiet and calm. You should feed the dog in a quiet area away from foot traffic and doors.
Perform diet changes gradually. Lastly, always introduce a new diet slowly. Start by replacing 1/8 of your dog’s meal with the new food. After a few days, you can replace another 1/8 portion until you’ve switched the dog fully to the new diet. This slow transition will also prevent gastrointestinal irritations.
Why does my dog keep bringing me his food?
If your dog keeps bringing its food to you before eating it, he’s looking for a safe space. The original location of the food bowl is probably uncomfortable or unsafe for your pet. And since your dog associates you with safety and comfort, he prefers to eat beside you.
Aside from that, wild dogs often hide their leftovers in a safe place so they can go back to it later. In a domesticated setting, the safe place might be where you are. It’s a stroke on your ego, knowing that your dog trusts you.
Why does my dog bark while I eat?
Dogs bark during their owners’ meals to beg for food. No matter how much your dog whines or barks, never give in. Doing so will just tolerate and reinforce the behavior. Over time, your dog will become demanding.
Aside from that, human food and table scraps aren’t healthy for dogs. Human food contains lots of salt, sugar, and artificial flavoring. All of these won’t do any good on your dog’s body.
Why does my dog bark at his food? It could be due to new food, resource guarding, anxiety, or trying to communicate something. If the barking is becoming excessive, training will always go a long way. Remember that punishments are no-nos when dealing with such behavioral issues in dogs.