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Unusual Eating Behavior
It’s not clear what’s going on
Gertie eating several feet from the source

Gertie has an unusual eating behavior. She can spend hours polishing off a couple of cups of dry dog food. She takes a few pieces of kibble from her bowl, carries it a few feet away, drops it on the floor, and then eats it piece by piece with painstaking slowness. It reminds me of the way chickadees eat from birdfeeders, taking one item from the feeder and flying to a nearby tree to eat it before returning to the feeder again. Here is a short video of Gertie eating, which starts with her walking away from her bowl with some food in her mouth and then dropping it on the floor.

Honestly, I don’t have an explanation for this behavior, though a few other guardians have mentioned that their dogs feed in a similar way. My brother-in-law, who takes care of Gertie when her guardians are out of town, thinks this behavior relates to experiences with fire ants in her earlier life before being adopted into a loving home. She was tied up, and where she lives in Florida, fire ants can find food extremely quickly. Since the sting of these ants is very painful, perhaps Gertie is using her food-moving behavior to take the food away from fire ants in her bowl. It’s certainly an interesting speculation, but I have no idea if it’s true.

Here’s what I do know: At her own home, Gertie consistently eats in this way, day after day, meal after meal. When she is visiting my brother-in-law and his family, she alternates her usual feeding behavior with eating right out of the bowl at a slow but steady speed. That’s what this video shows—some carrying of food and some eating it right from the bowl. The change may be a result of visiting a home with another dog—Tucker, a Miniature Pinscher mix who will try to eat her food if he is not kept away by a barrier. If Tucker is around, she will usually eat more quickly and do it directly from the bowl.

Have you ever known a dog who eats like Gertie does? Do you have a possible explanation for the behavior?

 

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Karen B. London, PhD, is a Bark columnist and a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist specializing in the evaluation and treatment of serious behavior problems in the domestic dog.

screen grab from Eating Habits in Dogs

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