Despite your efforts, you can’t get Sparky to stop playing with his food. He pushes that bowl across the floor and makes an awful mess. Your mischievous pooch has many reasons for doing this; from trying to get you to focus on him to signaling to you that he isn’t feeling well.
Chances are, as soon as you hear that stainless steel bowl scraping across the floor, you run over to see what’s wrong. Maybe you pat your pooch on the head, hold the bowl still for him or just stand there and talk to him while he’s dining. He just played a game with you and you fell for it. Clever little Sparky figured out that if he pushes his bowl away, you’ll come visit him. So he gets the best of both worlds: A divine entree and attention from his beloved human.
Making It His
Canines have scent glands built into their paw pads. This is why you may see your pup scratching the ground after he goes potty. He’s leaving his aroma behind. You can’t smell it, but if another furball comes racing through, he’ll know that this yard is spoken for. It's the same scenario when Sparky paws at his food bowl or claws at the floor surrounding his bowl. He’s marking it, in a sense, making sure everyone knows that it’s his.
Hunting His Food
Remember that your cuddly pal is related to wolves and has many similar traits. Even though Sparky doesn’t have to go foraging for food, some of his ancient DNA tells him that he has to. So rather than scarfing down that delightful bowl of kibble, he’ll play with it for a bit, making him feel like he’s getting “the kill.” Pushing that bowl around gives the food some life as it swirls around in the dish. After stepping in it, flipping the dish over and possibly laying in the food, he can be assured that it’s “dead” and ready to feast on.
When Something is Wrong
The worst case scenario is that your pooch plays with his food as a sign of a medical ailment. It’s possible that his vision isn’t strong and he can’t quite see where the food is. He also could have a poor appetite, which is a big red flag of a possible blockage, upset stomach or other digestive issue. Just to be on the safe side, let your vet know about Sparky’s quirky behavior, especially if he recently started pushing his bowl away when he didn’t do it before.
By Melodie Anne Coffman
About the Author
Melodie Anne Coffman specializes in overall wellness, with particular interests in women's health and personal defense. She holds a master's degree in food science and human nutrition and is a certified instructor through the NRA. Coffman is pursuing her personal trainer certification in 2015.