Why Do Dogs Tip Their Food Bowl Over?

German Shepherd puppy sleeping in a wire kennel with an upside down bowl and spilled kibble.

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Dogs flipping their food bowl over is a common occurrence, but what is the reason for this behavior? 

Many dog owners have experienced their dog tipping over its food bowl at some point. But why do dogs do this and how can we stop it from happening?

In this article, we explore the possible reasons why dogs tip over their food dish and provide tips on how to stop this behavior. By understanding the root of the problem, we can take steps to correct it and help our furry friends live happier lives with less mess.

Pin image of why dogs tip their food bowl over with a German Shepherd eating kibble that has been spread on the floor.

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Why Does My Dog Dump His Food Bowl Over?

Many people think that dogs flip their food bowls over simply to make a mess. While there may be some truth in this, there are other reasons why your dog is dumping his food bowl over.

Instinct

Dogs’ ancestors protected food and were alert and ready to fight for prey and carrion. This instinct may still be active in your dog today.

Dogs use their heightened senses of smell, sight, and hearing to find food – sometimes even before we do – so it’s not hard to believe that flipping the bowl over is an attempt to protect his dinner from other “predators” especially if you have more than one dog.

Your Dog is Doesn’t Like Their Bowl

German Shepherd puppy sleeping in a wire kennel with an upside down bowl and spilled kibble.

Another reason your dog is tipping their food dish over is that they don’t like the bowl you’re using. Luna used to do this when she was a puppy. She wouldn’t eat out of the metal bowl, instead she would tip it over and then eat her food.

This could be because the bowl is too light and it moves around too much.

Or, if it’s a metal bowl, it could be the way the light hits it or the sound it makes. Some dogs don’t like the sound a metal bowl makes when their tags hit the side of it.

If you’re using a slow feeder bowl, it could also be that your dog is frustrated with the amount of work it takes to get at their food.

The Food is the Issue

German Shepherd in a wire kennel with a slow feeder bowl and food spilled out of it.

It’s possible that there is something about the food that your dog no longer likes. In the picture above, Luna would throw her food all over because she didn’t like it.

If you recently switched foods, your dog may be tipping their dish over to tell you that they don’t like the taste or smell of the new food.

If you haven’t changed foods recently, it’s possible the manufacturer changed something in the food that has made your dog no longer like it as well.

The Bowl Moves

Some dogs will tip over their food bowl because it moves while they are eating.

If the bowl starts to move, your dog may get frustrated having to follow the dish around and just tip it over so the food stops moving.

Your Dog Doesn’t Feel Well

If your dog has an upset stomach or is sick, his appetite might suffer.  This might cause him to miss meals or not eat enough during the day, which can lead to him turning over his food bowl.

If you think your dog isn’t feeling well, monitor his bathroom usage and call the vet. It’s possible he just has an upset stomach from eating something he shouldn’t and the vet will have ideas of what to try and when to bring your dog in for an exam.

How to Stop Your Dog from Tipping Over Their Food Bowl

To get your dog to stop tipping over the food bowl, you first have to figure out why they are doing it.

Once you’ve identified the probable cause, there are a few things you can try to correct the behavior.

Switch the Type of Bowl You Use

If you think the bowl is the cause, try using a different bowl. If you are currently using a metal bowl, try a ceramic bowl.

If you are using a slow feeder bowl because your dog eats too fast, try switching to a different type of slow feeder bowl. There are many different patterns and it’s possible that your dog would prefer a different pattern.

You can also try a no-tip bowl, though if you currently have a metal bowl I would try the heavy stoneware crock bowl (just make sure to double-check the size before you order one online). These are very heavy and most dogs won’t be able to move them, regardless of how hard they try.

There are also metal no-tip bowls, but if it’s the metal your dog doesn’t like, they will find a way to tip a no-tip metal bowl.

Use a Mat for the Food Bowl

Another option is to put a mat under the food bowl. Any mat that doesn’t slide on the floor helps to keep the food dish in place.

If your dog is tipping their dish over because it moves, keeping the bowl in place will stop the tipping.

Non Skid Bowls

Poodle terrier mix with a non-skid food bowl.

Similar to using a mat for the food bowl is getting a non-skid bowl for your dog. These bowls have a rubber ring around them that helps prevent the bowl from sliding all over the floor.

We use a non-skid bowl for Morgan and it works great. She never tips her bowl over and very seldom gets it to move.

Skip the Bowl

German Shepherd eating kibble that was spread out on the floor.

If you don’t mind the dog food on your floor, you could just skip the bowl altogether and put the food on the floor. 

Just make sure to spread it out so it isn’t in one big pile that is easy to inhale too quickly.

This skips the bowl tipping and contains the mess to the area you decide instead of wherever the food flies when it gets tipped out.

Feed dogs separately

If your dogs are tipping their bowls over because they are trying to protect their food from another dog, you may have to feed them separately.

You can either feed them in separate rooms or in their kennels if you have individual ones for your dogs.

Conclusion

Although there are several potential reasons why dogs flip their food dish over, the behavior can be stopped with a few simple tips.

By following these tips, you can help your dog break the habit of tipping over the food bowl.

Good luck and hopefully you will have less mess when feeding your dog!

Other Articles Of Interest

How to Slow Down a Dog That Eats Too Fast

How to Stop Leash Pulling

How to Get Your Dog To Stop Eating Poop

Why Does My Dog Lick the Couch All the Time? 

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