Why do dogs bark while they eat?

April 13, 2012

Let’s face it. We are grateful for the way the dog barks at night as it commonly alerts us to the presence of intruders or to an unusual situation inside the house. Have you ever heard of the dog that keeps on barking to warn the owner that the house is burning? Dogs love to bark and as long as they do not really disturb the neighbors, the pet must be allowed to do so. Some dogs though have this penchant to bark excessively. These dogs would bark at anything under the sun.

Dogs bark even when they are sleeping. Experts tell us that the dog is dreaming. What would be perplexing to humans is the dog’s habit of barking while eating. Amazing animals! It is comparable to some people’s habit of talking while the mouth is full.

Dogs bark to communicate. A happy bark while eating can be the dog’s way of telling the pet parent that the food is yummy. Your pet may be telling you that the effort of giving him/her a home cooked meal instead of just scooping kibble from the bin is well appreciated. It is common for pet owners to give the dog human characteristics. It would certainly be a stroke to the ego to think that the pet is grateful for the effort.

Barking while eating is a sign of dog aggression. Dogs, apart from being highly territorial are social animals as well. Dogs in a pack have well defined hierarchy. Dogs lower in rank will respect the alpha dog. Dominant dogs would warn other dogs to behave by growling, snarling and barking. In a household where there are other dogs, barking while eating is a common occurrence especially if the dogs are being fed in the same area. By barking, the eating dog is warning other pets not to approach.

Dogs are food motivated. Barking while eating is the dog’s way of guarding its resources. By barking, the dogs are proclaiming to one and all that the food will not be shared. Domesticated dogs are provided with all the food they can consume. Present day companion dogs no longer need to hunt for food. However, dogs would instinctively hoard and protect whatever food they have. Dogs still bury bones up to this day of plenty. The dog will bark and take on an aggressive stance if another animal or a person for that matter will approach while it is eating. This is why children are cautioned not to approach an eating dog.

This resource guarding theory does not hold true for all dogs. Barking can also be a way for the dog to call a friend to share with what it is eating. Dogs and cats are believed to be enemies. However, Poochie, our Japanese Spitz dog would bark as soon as the bowl is filled with food. We later on found out that the dog is calling a stray cat. Once the cat is eating, the dog will stop barking and start eating too.

Excessive barking will always be a problem of pet owners. The dog’s habit of barking while eating can be prevented and stopped. Naturally, it is necessary to know what stimulus triggers the dog to bark. Barking that arises from protecting the food is common in two or more dog households. It would be a good idea to separate the dogs at least while they are eating. Dogs would also bark to get attention. Did you forget to fill the water bowl? Is Fido’s rationing enough? Try feeding your pet a little more. A premium quality food will satisfy the dog better than kibble that mostly contain cereal fillers. Maybe the dog will eat peacefully and let you enjoy your dinner peacefully too.

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