Why does my dog push his food with his nose, and what does this behavior mean? Dogs are a man’s best friend. Having a canine companion can bring a lot of joy to your life as well as a lot of confusion.
Even though dogs and humans interact and understand each other, some dogs exhibit odd behavior that puzzles even the most expert dog owner. One of the most puzzly dog behaviors involves their eating habits.
Most dogs eagerly eat their food as soon as you serve it. However, some dogs will lose their food around before eating it. If your dog does this, you might wonder, why does my dog push his food with his nose?
Does this mean something specific? Should you be worried? If this sounds like you and your dog, you came to the right place. This article covers everything you need to know about dog diets, this odd dog behavior, what it might mean, and what you can do about it.
Before you scroll down to a more in-depth answer of this guide, “Why Does My Dog Push His Food With His Nose,” you can check out these other dog-related guides from our team at We Love Doodles: Why is My Dog So Cuddly All of a Sudden and Why Does My Dog Keep Sniffing My Legs?
Is It Normal for My Dog To Push Food With His Nose?
When most people think about a dog’s eating habits, they imagine a dog that gobbles down its food as soon as it is served. While this is the most common way dogs eat, it is not the only way. Some dog experts believe it is natural for dogs to push their food around with their noses before eating it.
Even though this behavior is normal, your dog’s behavior can tell you a lot about its personality and potentially some health problems they are experiencing. It is essential to know the different reasons why your dog might be pushing around their food.
Reasons Why Your Dog Pushes His Food Around With His Nose
Now that you know this is normal behavior that dogs exhibit let’s examine why your puppy might be nosing his food or pushing it away.
1. Your Dog Pushes Its Nose Because of Poor Diet
Dogs are descendants of wolves. In the wild, wolves hunt and eat their prey. This diet is very different from the diet of most domesticated dogs. While some people feed their dogs a raw diet similar to what they would eat in the wild, most dog owners opt for kibble or canned food.
The diet of most domesticated dogs consists of carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins, and minerals. This diet is very different from what wolves eat in the wild.
While the diet of most domesticated dogs is not the same as that of wolves, some experts believe that this difference may be one of the reasons why some dogs push their food around with their noses.
The difference between their original diets and the kibble and canned food you are giving them may cause some confusion in their brain that needs to be overcome by pushing their food with their nose.
2. A Dog Pushing Its Nose is a Common Dog Characteristic and Trait
It is important to remember that dogs are descendants of wild animals and that many of their behaviors are linked to their wilder past. You can trace many odd dog behaviors back to their evolutionary history. One of the most common dog characteristics is their scavenging behavior.
Scavenging is when a dog looks for food in trashcans or on the ground. Dogs evolved from wolves who were scavengers. They would eat anything they could, including carrion (dead animals). While most domesticated dogs are not scavengers, some experts believe their scavenging behavior is linked to their evolutionary past.
Another typical dog characteristic is their predatory behavior. Predatory behavior is when a dog hunts for food. Dogs evolved from wolves, which were predators. They would hunt and kill animals for food. These evolutionary inherited characteristics may cause fido to nose his food around before eating it.
3. Your Dog Pushes Its Nose Because It’s Playing With Its Food
Puppies and young dogs often play with their food before eating it. They will carry it around in their mouths, chew on it, push it around their bowl, and sometimes drop it.
Playing with food is normal behavior and nothing to be concerned about. Puppies and young dogs are exploring their world and learning about their food. As they age, most dogs tend to outgrow this phase and start eating their food like an adult dogs.
4. Your Dog Pushes Its Nose Because of Poor Diet
One of the most common reasons dogs push their food around with their noses is that they are not getting the nutrients they need from their diet. If your dog is not getting the proper nutrients from its diet, it may push its food around in an attempt to get more of the nutrients they need. Poor diet is widespread in puppies and young dogs who are still growing and developing.
They need more nutrients than adult dogs. When they push around their food, they may be trying to find other food or locate the vitamins and minerals they lack. If you think your dog’s diet is why they are pushing their food around, talk to your veterinarian about changing their food or adding supplements to their diet.
5. Your Dog Pushes Food With Its Nose For Safety Reasons
Dogs have a keen sense of smell and use it as one of their primary senses. Dogs may push around their food to better understand what they are eating, which can happen if you introduce a new dog food or change brands. Your dog may be curious about the new food and want a better smell before eating it.
This behavior is perfectly normal and nothing to be concerned about. If you are concerned that your dog is not getting enough to eat, you can try putting their food in a Kong toy or slow feeder bowl. These methods will help them eat their food more slowly and may prevent them from pushing it around with their nose.
6. Your Dog Pushes Food With Its Nose Due to Curiosity
If you own a dog, you know how curious it can be. Dogs always explore, identify new smells, and sometimes dig up the yard. This curiosity may extend to their food bowl. Your dog may want to know what is in its food and how it smells.
Pushing it around with its nose is one way they can investigate their food. If your dog is curious and pushing its food around with its nose, it is no need to be concerned because it is normal behavior. It would be best if you did not become concerned unless your dog stops eating its food.
7. Your Dog Pushes Food With Its Nose Because of a Lack of Hunger
Dogs commonly push their food around with their nose because they are not hungry. Dogs might not be hungry if they just ate a large meal, are not feeling well, or are getting enough food from other sources.
If your dog pushes its food bowl away completely and ignores its food, it probably isn’t hungry. If you think your dog is not hungry, you can try feeding them smaller meals more often or giving them treats throughout the day.
8. Your Dog Pushes Food With Its Nose Because It’s Picky With Its Food
Even our canine friends can be picky eaters when it comes to food. If your dog is pushing his food around with his nose or shoving the bowl away, it could be a sign that he’s not a fan of his current food.
There are a few reasons your dog might not enjoy his kibble as much as he used to. Maybe he’s bored of the same old formula, or the ingredients could upset his stomach. It’s also possible that your dog is simply being fussy and is holding out for something better.
9. Your Dog Pushes Food With Its Nose Because of Its Natural Instincts
You can trace dog behavior back to their instincts when they lived in the wild, and pushing food around with their nose is no different. The theory is that in the wild, dogs would not always kill their prey immediately. Sometimes, they would have to wait for a while before they could eat.
As a result, they would need to be able to preserve their food. Pushing it around with their nose would help keep the food fresh and prevent it from spoiling. Dogs may also do this due to the instinct to save some of their food.
In the wild, food did not come at regular intervals. They would need to keep some of their food if they could not find anything to eat for a while. While these behaviors are no longer necessary for most dogs, some may still do it out of instinct.
10. Traits Related to Their Breed
Another factor that may contribute to a dog’s decision to push his food around with his nose is the breed of the dog. Some dog breeds are more likely to engage in this behavior than others. For example, herding and working dogs are more likely to engage in this behavior due to their high prey drive and instinct to work.
Pushing food around with their nose gives them a sense of purpose and makes them feel like they are doing something. This behavior is less common in breeds that do not have a strong work ethic.
11. Your Dog Could Be Pushing Its Nose Because of Poor Vision
Some dogs may also engage in this behavior if they have poor vision. If your dog has trouble seeing its food, it may push it around with its nose to get a better idea of where it is. This behavior is more common in older dogs starting to lose their vision.
Your dog’s vision might deteriorate if you notice your dog bumping into objects and being more clumsy than usual. If you think your dog’s vision may be poor, you should take him to the vet for a check-up. The vet can tell you if your dog’s vision is starting to decline and recommend ways to help him.
12. Your Dog Could Be Dealing With Mouth/Dental Problems
Another possibility is that your dog is experiencing mouth or dental pain. If your dog is hesitant to let you touch its mouth and is winning more than usual, it could be a sign that it is experiencing dental problems.
If you think this might be the case, take your dog to the vet immediately. Dog dental problems can become quite severe and expensive to treat. The best solution is early intervention.
Conclusion For “Why Does My Dog Push Food With His Nose”
Several reasons your dog may be pushing his food around with his nose. If you’re concerned about this behavior, the best thing to do is consult with your veterinarian. They will be able to help you identify the root cause of the problem and recommend a course of action.
In most cases, this behavior is normal and nothing to be concerned about. It’s just your dog being a dog. Do you have any questions or concerns about your dog’s behavior? Leave us a comment below, and we’ll do our best to help you out.
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You can learn more about your dog’s nose behavior by watching “Why Do Dogs Push Food With Their Nose” down below:
Dr. Sabrina Kong graduated from the Royal Veterinary College in England in 2016 and has been working at a small animal clinic in Northern California since then. She grew up in the Bay Area and got her bachelor’s degree from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. She also became a Certified Canine Rehabilitation Practitioner through a program at the University of Tennessee.
When she isn’t in the clinic taking care of her four-legged patients, she enjoys traveling and trying new foods with her friends and her three-legged dog, Apollo. She adopted Apollo from her clinic when he was a puppy with numerous health issues. Dr. Kong truly cares about taking care of animals.