One of the benefits of being a dog owner is the companionship and love that we get in return for a little work. Dogs are known for being loving friends, and they make great pets for people of all ages. Sure, owning a dog also comes with obvious responsibilities, such as feeding, exercising, and cleaning up after them. But, for the most part, taking care of a dog is a fun and rewarding experience.
Sometimes, we dog owners have to do a little research when our dogs start acting weird. Dogs that are scared of flies, growl when they get hugged, or knead like a cat can confuse their owners with their bizarre ways. It’s important to figure out what is motivating your dog’s odd behavior though. Sometimes it’s a sign of stress, medical problems, or something else serious.
Of course, other times it’s a sign of your dog being a silly dog and there is absolutely nothing to worry about. If you’re reading this article, you may have noticed something odd about your dog; She tends to lay down when she eats her food.
So what about that? Why does my dog lay down to eat? There’s a handful of likely explanations that can easily explain this weird ‘table manner’ of your good girl. It could be due to instincts, getting comfortable, how she ate as a puppy, being tired, old age, medical issues, or being lazy.
Modern pet dogs (with loving homes) have it pretty good compared to their wolf ancestors and contemporary cousins. They don’t have to worry about a lot of things like their next meal. For the most part, they just need to sit there and look cute and their owner will bring them enough to eat.
However, some of those old instincts die hard. Just like their wild ancestors who had to worry about being attacked while they ate, some dogs lay down to eat as a way to protect themselves and their food from potential threats.
If your dog is always on alert or seems anxious while she’s eating, this might be why she’s doing it. One of my dogs is constantly on the lookout while she eats. Though she doesn’t lay down she pops her head up and scans 360 degrees around her as she chews each and every bite.
It’s More Comfortable
Another potential reason your dog likes to lay down while she eats is that it’s more comfortable for her than standing or sitting. Big bellies, disproportionate legs, and other physical difficulties might make it so your dog prefers to lay down to eat. Additionally, standing while pushing their head towards the ground is simply uncomfortable for some dogs.
How Your Dog Learned To Eat
Have you ever seen a mama dog laying on her side nursing multiple pups? Often after those pups have jockeyed for position, they will be lined up perpendicular to their mom, laying on their bellies, each sucking on a nipple.
As these pups grow up, some will try to continue this same way of eating. It’s comfortable, it’s what they’re used to, and so they continue doing it even when the situation has completely changed.
Tired or Old
Dogs that are tired or old often lay down to eat as well. If your dog is getting up there in age, she might prefer to lay down while she eats because it requires less strength than standing or sitting. Additionally, if your dog has had a long day of playing or working, she might be too tired to stand while she eats and would rather just plop down and chow down.
There are a few medical reasons why your dog might lay down to eat as well. If your dog is having difficulty swallowing, she might be more comfortable in a lying position. Additionally, if your dog is suffering from pain in her neck or back, she might find it more comfortable to eat while lying down.
Of course, there are other potential medical reasons for this behavior as well so if you’re concerned, it’s always best to check with your veterinarian.
Last but not least, your dog might just be plain old lazy! If your dog doesn’t have any physical difficulties and she’s not particularly old or tired, she might just prefer to lay down while she eats because it’s less work than standing or sitting up.
Most of us humans aren’t exactly known for perfect posture, so you can’t expect every other animal to be on point all the time either.
Is It Normal For Dogs To Lay Down To Eat?
I definitely wouldn’t say it is normal for dogs to lay down to eat. On the other hand, I wouldn’t say it is rare either. If your dog doesn’t have a medical condition that is causing her to lay down while she eats, I wouldn’t worry too much about it.
If you are concerned about your dog’s behavior, the best thing to do is to talk to your veterinarian. They can help rule out any potential medical causes and give you some peace of mind.
Is It Okay For My Dog To Lay Down While She Eats?
As I just mentioned above, most likely, yes. It is completely fine for your dog to eat laying down. If a medical problem is the cause you’ll obviously want to address that. Even in the wild, we see coyotes and wolves laying down while they feast on their meal.
When it may not be okay for your dog to lay down and eat is when it comes on suddenly. Any very rapid change in your dog’s behavior could indicate a medical problem. If one of my dogs suddenly changed the way they ate, I’d be sure to mention it at their next vet appointment if not call and ask for advice even sooner.
What Should I Do If My Dog Lays Down To Eat?
If you are convinced you need to change your dog’s eating posture there are some things you can do to correct the behavior. Remember to avoid punishing her for it though. If you try to punish your dog while she is laying down and eating, you’re likely going to confuse her rather than accomplish anything productive.
Try using a bowl that is raised higher than your dog’s head when she is in a laying position. This will make it difficult, if not impossible for her to lay down while she eats. Your dog will be forced to stand if she wants to get her mouth in the bowl.
Usually, people only need to buy stands to place their current bowls in. It can be an effective method of making your dog stand up while eating.
Theoretically, dogs can’t tip these bowls over to eat off the ground, however, I have seen some dogs pull off the ‘impossible’ and tip them over. Unfortunately, they are often in the same holder as the water bowl which means they make a big mess.
Leave Your Dog Alone
I’ve gone over why dogs lay down to eat and frankly, most of them are just fine if a little strange. While you might not like it if your vet says your dog is healthy and there is nothing to worry about then you might just need to accept that this is the way your dog likes to eat.
In some cases, you may need to just step away and leave your dog alone while she eats. If you hover over her or try to correct her behavior, she may become frustrated or anxious. This could lead to other problems.
Check With Your Vet
I’ve mentioned numerous times and numerous scenarios in which it is odd but okay for your dog to eat laying down. I’ve also driven home the point that if you’re unsure or are still worried about why your dog eats laying down then it might be time for a vet visit. If you still are unsure or uneasy about the situation, please call your vet. You’ll get personalized advice from someone who knows your best friend and all of her quirks.
Summary: Why Do Dogs Lay Down To Eat?
There are a few possible explanations for why your dog might lay down to eat instead of stand. One explanation could be that the dog is trying to protect herself and her food from potential threats. Another possibility is that the dog finds it more comfortable to eat in a lying-down position. Additionally, the dog might be tired or old or suffering from pain in its neck or back. Finally, the dog may simply be lazy.
It’s not exactly normal but it is okay for your dog to lay down while eating. Most likely, there’s no cause for concern. However, if your dog suddenly starts laying down to eat, it could be indicative of a medical problem and you should consult your veterinarian.
If you’re worried about your dog standing while eating there are a few things you can do to correct the behavior. You can try using a bowl that is raised higher than your dog’s head when she is in a laying position. This will make it difficult, if not impossible for her to lay down while she eats. You can also try leaving your dog alone while she eats or checking with your vet for personalized advice.