Lying down to eat isn’t too pleasant for us; it can cause belly aches and trouble swallowing.
So what is one to think when their dog lays down to eat?
Surely that’s unpleasant, right?
As it turns out, lying down to eat isn’t something dogs generally do. However, there could be a few different reasons your dog is exhibiting this behavior, such as puppyhood habits, being tired, being more comfortable for larger breeds, or being older. This behavior may also signify resource guarding, food aggression, illness, or injury. Therefore, it’s essential to identify the cause and address it as needed.
In this article, I’ll explore some potential causes of why your dog might be lying down to eat. I’ll also talk about whether this behavior is something to be concerned about and what you can do about it.
Ready? Let’s dive in!
Lying down to chew on something like a bone or stick is normal, but lying down to eat is generally not.
Basically, if the jaw commitment is significant, a dog may lie down to be more comfortable as they spend time gnawing away at something. However, eating is a much quicker action and shouldn’t require lying down. This is an instinct passed down from the dog’s wild ancestor, the wolf.
That being said, domestic dogs have a variety of quirks to them that may be normal for the individual pup and not normal for another pup. Laying down to eat isn’t an immediate need for panic, but if this behavior is new, that may be something to look into.
Laying down to eat can have a variety of reasons behind it, the one that applies best to your dog is based on the context around the action.
Some dogs lay down to eat because they may have started this behavior as puppies.
Like human babies, puppies pick up all sorts of funny and silly behaviors, some of which become a habit well into adulthood.
If your puppy started by eating lying down, they may continue this into adulthood.
For the active pups out there, a long day of hiking, swimming, or playing dog sports can tire any four-legged creature out.
If you offer food shortly after this, your pup may just be too fatigued to stand up to eat.
If you find your dog is lying down to eat after a lot of physical stimulation, this may very well be the reason.
If you have a larger-sized dog but are still only offering food on the floor, your dog may be lying because it’s more comfortable to eat that way.
Large dogs can have a harder time eating standing up if their food bowls are at ground level, primarily because their throat position makes swallowing hard. Laying down allows the dog to be closer to their bowl and, therefore, not crane the neck as much.
An easy solution for this is to place your dog bowls on a stand or raised platform.
Older dogs have older bones, and it may simply be painful or difficult to stand to eat. Arthritis and fatigue are common ailments for older fellas, which may be why your dog is lying down to eat.
The short answer is that it depends on the situation. Since it’s not a normal thing for a dog to do, I advise you to investigate the case behind it.
The above are generally positive or normal reasons for your dog to lie down to eat. However, there may be a few reasons your dog is acting this way that would actually be a cause for concern:
Many dogs lay down to guard their food as it allows them to overtop the item they are protecting.
Resource guarding and food aggression are two negative behaviors that need to be nipped in the bud as soon as possible, as these can manifest into more challenging situations.
When a dog begins to resource guard, it is because they do not respect or trust the person they are guarding against.
Working on confidence building and regaining trust is the solution to this issue.
If your pup isn’t feeling well or sustains an injury, they could be lying down because standing is painful.
If your dog is displaying this behavior very suddenly after no real history of doing it before, a visit to the vet is in order! It could be anything from inflammation of the joints all the way to stomach issues.
As to whether you should do something about this, it’s very dependent upon your individual dog. If you feel like this habit is causing no harm or foul, you don’t necessarily need to do anything.
If anything, laying down to eat can actually be a positive for dogs that usually eat too fast, as laying down slows the eating! It can also potentially remedy the risk of bloat, a life-threatening condition in which a dog’s stomach fills with air, and the pressure stops blood flowing to the heart.
However, if this habit is detrimental to your dog, finding its root cause is the best remedy. For dogs that may be lying because of discomfort, after ruling out a medical cause at the vet, try putting the food on a platform and elevating it. Also, allow your dog a bit of rest before offering food after a strenuous exercise day!
For aggressive dogs, hire a trainer that specializes in resource guarding to help you. Food aggression can be difficult to tackle on your own, and a professional can help!