It happens every morning: you feed your dog and he flips his food bowl over almost as if it's a ritual he just can't get give up no matter what, what's up with that? 

Why do dogs flip their food bowl over? And most of all, what can be done about it?  Let's take a closer insight into some possible reasons for this odd and quirky behavior. Of course, until dogs can talk, these are just assumptions!

Adding a Twist 

Let's face it: many dogs were selectively bred for a variety of purposes and life can sometimes get dull when confined between four walls. 

Long are the days when dogs herded sheep, chased rats out of factories and retrieved downed birds. Heck, even meal time is way too easy nowadays with dog food being readily served from a bag to bowl with no effort needed. 

Well, here's a fact: dogs thrive on mental stimulation and they like to "work for their food." This explains why you find more and more food puzzles for dogs on the market so that we can add a "twist" to their meal times, making things a bit more interesting.

 In an era of stuffed Kongs, Kong Wobblers, Buster Cubes and Nina Ottoson puzzle, dog owners are discovering that dogs have a kick from mental challenges. 

Does your dog flip the bowl over and then starts eating? Then, by flipping his food over there may therefore be chances that your puppy or dog is in for a "game." 

Now that he has scattered all of the food around the room, he can go on his "treasure hunt" and start foraging!

Many dogs flip their bowl over to add an extra challenge. 

Many dogs flip their bowl over to add an extra challenge. 

Looking For Something Better 

Does your dog flip the food bowl over after a recent diet change? If so, there may be chances that your dog is simply looking for something better. 

Perhaps he liked the other food better and he is looking for traces of his former food. This often happens after dogs were fed a diet that was particularly tasty such as canned food or some tasty toppings were added to his bowl and now are no longer are. 

Imagine being served every day a delicious burger that is large and juicy and then one day you are served a tiny burger. It comes natural to lift the bun and say "where's the beef?" as a popular old-time commercial went. 

By flipping the food bowl your dog is therefore wondering whatever happened to his good old food. Maybe it's hiding somewhere under the bowl? 

Discover More

puppy in the grass

Are Puppies Born With Parasites?

Whether puppies are born with parasites is something new breeders and puppy owners may wonder about. Perhaps you have seen something wiggly in your puppy's stool or maybe as a breeder you are wondering whether you need to deworm mother dog before she gives birth. Veterinarian Dr. Jennifer Masucci shares facts about whether puppies can be born with worms.


Ask the Vet: Help, My Dog Ate Donuts!

If your dog ate donuts, you may be concerned about your dog and wondering what you should do. The truth is, there are donuts and donuts and there are dogs and dogs. Some types of donuts can be more harmful than others and some dogs more prone to problems than others. Veterinarian Dr. Ivana shares whether donuts are safe for dogs and what to do if you dog ate donuts.


Do Dogs Fall Off Cliffs?

Yes, dogs fall off cliffs and these accidents aren't even uncommon. As we hike with our dogs, we may sometimes overestimate our dog's senses. We may take for granted that dogs naturally know what areas to avoid to prevent falls. However, the number of dogs who fall off from cliffs each year, proves to us that it makes perfect sense to protect them from a potentially life threatening fall.

If you haven't changed your dog's food recently though, consider giving him the benefit of doubt before labeling him as spoiled. 

Check out the expiration date. Maybe the food has gone rancid. Or maybe there was some change in the ingredients. Log in to your computer and look if there were any recent food recalls. 

A Health Problem

If flipping the food bowl is a new behavior, it may be important ruling out a health problem. Perhaps your dog isn't feeling well and the flipping of the food bowl is a key manifestation.

For example, if your dog has tooth pain, he may not understand why eating has become so uncomfortable. He might associate the particular food he is fed with the pain and by flipping the food bowl over he is hoping to find a different food that is less painful. 

This phenomenon is similar to cats with urinary tract infections who start associating their litter boxes with pain and start looking for another place to urinate such as a bathroom or sink. 

Other possible health problems may include mouth pain, nausea, digestive problems, loss of appetite, vision problems, neck pain or back pain to just name a few, but any type of discomfort or pain can cause this behavior. 

Perhaps your dog isn't feeling well and the flipping of the food bowl is a key manifestation.

Perhaps your dog isn't feeling well and the flipping of the food bowl is a key manifestation.

Other Types of Problems 

Sometimes, the problem resides with the bowl. Perhaps you got a new dog and he was used to eating in a certain type of bowl and now he's struggling. 

It is not unusual for dogs used to eating in plastic bowls to act a bit oddly when fed in a shiny aluminum bowl where they see their reflections. Many puppies or dogs are afraid of food bowls. Or maybe, the dog is bothered by his collar tags clanging against the metal. 

Some dogs may dislike bowls that move too much or maybe the food bowl is giving off an odd smell. Maybe your dog doesn't like the sensation of his whiskers bending against the food bowl as he eats. 

Sometimes, you may need to put your investigative hat on. Maybe you moved the location of the bowl and your dog is having a hard time adjusting. 

Maybe the air from a vent is coming his way or maybe the place is too crowded and he's distracted. 

Now That You Know....

As seen, dogs may flip their food bowls over for a variety of causes. It may take some investigation and experimenting to find out what may be bothering Rover so to restore his usual eating habits. Here are just a few suggestions.

How to Stop Your Dog From Flipping the Food Bowl

  • Skip the food bowl altogether. Who said dogs are destined to eat from their bowls all their lives? Why not turn meal time into a fun event? Try adding some fun challenges to meal time. Scatter his meal around the home for a fun treasure hunt, or place his food portion in a Kong Wobbler. 
  • Call the dog food company and ask if there any changes in ingredients or whether the food has been recently recalled. 
  • Have your dog see your vet if flipping the food bowl over is a new, out-of-the-blue behavior that concerns you. 
  • Try feeding in a different bowl or in a different location. Remove metal tags from your dog's collar if they clash against the bowl. 
  • If the food bowl moves too much, you can try investing in one of those food bowls with a non-skid silicone bottom. 
  • Try investing in heavy food bowls or non-tip food bowls. You can also try using an elevated food bowl stand. 

Related Articles