What Does It Mean when Your Dog Pushes the Food Bowl with Her Nose before She Eats It?

She'll push the bowl to get it closer to you in some cases.
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The split second you finish pouring kibble into Sofia’s bowl, she starts pushing it across the floor with her nose. Sure, she’s probably just playing with her dinner, but that play-like behavior has an actual purpose. In some cases, though, constantly relocating the dish is a sign of a medical condition, meaning that as a precaution, you should let your vet know about her quirky behavior.

Giving It Life

You’ve probably watched your dog play at some point. She pushes around her squeaky toy, tosses it up in the air and then shakes it around when she catches it in her mouth. This play behavior is actually a part of her hunting skills. She’s practicing for the big kill. Even though you feed her regularly and she doesn’t need to hunt, the desire to search for food is still in her. When she bats around her food bowl, she could be making the kibble seem life-like. By swishing around her bowl and making the kibble bounce up and down, it gives her the excitement of being able to gnaw down on her “fresh catch.”


Every morning and evening you fill Sofia’s bowl at the exact same times -- like clockwork. Even though she knows she’s getting fed, she still has this deep urge to hoard her food. It goes back to her bloodlines. Her ancestors hoarded bones and leftover pieces of carcass after the big hunt, just so they had something leftover for a rainy day or if tomorrow’s hunting session isn’t as extravagant. She may be moving her bowl around to hide some of the kibble underneath the dish or spill it out so she can move it to another spot. This way she knows that in case you never return after leaving for work, she has a stash for later on.

Switching Things Up

You probably don’t sit in the same chair in the same spot to eat every single meal. Sometimes it’s helpful to break up the monotony of eating at your dining room table and instead, feast in front of the television or at your office desk. This is also true for your canine pal in some cases. Before she feasts, she may push her bowl to an area that’s more acceptable to her. Maybe she wants to be closer to you, doesn’t like the sound the bowl makes when it slides across the floor while nibbling or simply wants to get her dish out of that blaring sunlight. If she always relocates her dish to the same area, it might be time to make that a permanent feeding spot. Clearly she prefers it.

Vision Problems

Sometimes pushing around a food bowl can be a sign of vision problems. She’s moving around her dish to make the kibble stack up higher so she can see where it is. Or she has a hard time locating the exact spot of the dish each time she bows her head down, causing her to bump it with her nose each time she takes a bite. Tell your vet about Sofia’s behavior and get her vision checked, just to be on the safe side.