Any dog owner knows that dogs do pretty funny things, and nosing around food instead of eating is one such example. If the nosing irritates you, or if you're concerned you might trip over your pal before you've had coffee, there are steps you can take to minimize it.
If your dog's bowl rests on the floor, he may appear to be nosing the food or the bowl when eating because the action of eating physically pushes the bowl across the floor. Placing the bowl in a corner may reduce food nosing since the bowl cannot slide past the corner. Provide an eating mat or another floor mat to stabilize the bowl and minimize sliding. Alternately, use a larger bowl so that your dog's snout does not touch the side of the bowl when eating.
A University of Alaska Anchorage study determined that dogs want the same type of food as their pals. Accordingly, dogs in a multiple dog household may get a whiff of something tasty on their pal's breath during dinnertime. Your dog might nose the food to try to determine if they have the same tasty treat as his brother or sister. There's not much you can do to quell this sort of food nosing, aside from feeding dogs in separate rooms and not allowing them to interact until after mealtime.
It can be tempting to guess why your pup's nosing the food instead of eating it. Some might think the dog dislikes the food, the food bowl or the meal location. Others suspect the pup is bored or trying to get owner attention, or acting out of hunting instincts. While there may be anecdotal truth to some of these reasons, experts have not confirmed it.
Since dogs don't talk, you won't get a concrete answer as to why she's nosing the food. You can discuss this behavior with your vet if it concerns you. Since this behavior doesn't indicate any sort of canine health problem, this isn't necessary but it may help you feel better. If you like, you can switch food brands, food bowls or other aspects of mealtime to see if she stops nosing the new kibble.
- Science Blogs: The Thoughtful Animal - Monday Pets: Why Do Dogs Push Their Food Bowls Around?
- "How Many Dogs?!: Using Positive Reinforcement Training to Manage a Multiple Dog Household"; Debby McMullen
- PubMed: Dogs Acquire Food Preferences from Interacting with Recently Fed Conspecifics
- "Oh My Dog: How to Choose, Train, Groom, Nurture, Feed, and Care for Your New Best Friend"; Beth O Stern and Kristina Grish