My Dog Will Eat All Your Food
August 3, 2012 9:21 AM   Subscribe

Strange Dog Behavior Filter: Whenever I take my dog to my friend's house (one particular friend, we're there often), she runs right to their water/food bowl (they have a dog) and eats and drinks everything.

This is not normal behavior for her. She has the exact same food (I've switched!) available at home in an auto-feeder. She never eats more than a few bites at a time at home and has never been an over-eater. Same thing with the water.

In general, she's a well adjusted, happy, healthy dog.

What's going on?
posted by shew to Pets & Animals (16 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Theory (1): Dogs are weird. My parents old dog would always go get a drink whenever my mom got home from whatever. Her drinking at other times was almost entirely unpredictable.

Theory (2): Dogs can be territorial about food, and your dog probably gets a kick out of eating the other dog's food. Not a whole lot you can do about that.
posted by valkyryn at 9:25 AM on August 3, 2012 [3 favorites]

I have no solutions, but my dog does the same thing with other dogs' food. Maybe it's a grass is always greener sort of thing.
posted by subtle-t at 9:26 AM on August 3, 2012

My dog hardly eats at all until there is another dog around for competition. I don't think it is the type of food since the food / bone / toy the other dog is always way more awesome.

Also, where is the picture?
posted by JayNolan at 9:27 AM on August 3, 2012 [6 favorites]

There are some very deep instinctual things happening there, though nobody has really determined whether this is specifically dominance ("I drink your milkshake!") or a survival mechanism (strange place, no clue when food or drink might be available again so load up now) or dog stupidity (your food is far tastier than my exact same food, for reasons!).

I've never seen a dog NOT do that, though, unless the host dog (or cat) is especially dominant.
posted by Lyn Never at 9:38 AM on August 3, 2012 [4 favorites]

I can't offer you a why but I can add that my dog likes the water at my MIL's better than ours is our theory. He will not only try to drink all the water he will lay by the water bowl so he can drink more when he feels like it and then proceed to eat any dog food still in his bowl while laying down.. As she has a huge boxer mix and he is a 17lb silky terrier the water bowl is about as large as he is.

I have always thought it's a dominance thing in some way. Really when you think about it though when you go to visit someone what do they do offer you a beverage and a snack, so maybe it's a bit like that in the dog world too. "Hi welcome to my house other dog, please help yourself to my kibble and water. I like you so I will share my food with you kind of a deal."
posted by wwax at 9:44 AM on August 3, 2012

My dog will eat my cat's food from the cat's bowl, but never eats it if we put it into his bowl (we experimented!). The only explanation I can think of is that, as someone else said, it's a dominance thing.
posted by anaximander at 9:54 AM on August 3, 2012

My dog is only thirsty away from the house. When I bring her to work, she will immediately ask for water. Same with any relative's house, even if they don't have a pet.
posted by wongcorgi at 9:54 AM on August 3, 2012

My dog finds things with other people's/animals' slobber on them infinitely tastier than things with only his own slobber on them.
posted by phunniemee at 9:58 AM on August 3, 2012 [2 favorites]

My dog isn't a huge eater either, but whenever we have to get her a different kind of food than normal, or there's another dog's food available, she downs it as fast a possible. I chalk it up to novelty; she knows her regular food will always be there but who knows how long the new and exciting food will be available.
posted by MidsizeBlowfish at 9:58 AM on August 3, 2012 [2 favorites]

I think it's the same reason that fries are tastier off of someone else's plate.
posted by elizardbits at 10:17 AM on August 3, 2012 [4 favorites]

I'm agreeing with everyone else. Also my cats do this incredibly stupid thing where they will work like idiots to get at the food in the bag, while ignoring the exact same food that's in the feeder. WTF cats?

So animials. Kind of weird, kind of dumb.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 10:37 AM on August 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

It's a pretty basic assertion of a territorial and survival claim, i.e. -- all the critical resources belong to me. I don't think it's so weird. Dogs are dependent on us for everything, so in a new place it seems logical that a dog would promptly assure itself that its basic needs are met.
posted by bearwife at 12:31 PM on August 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

She knows the deal with food at her own house. She knows when it will arrive, how long it will be there, and (more importantly) that she will have plenty of it, with no need to stress.

But this new food? Hey, who knows! Better eat it fast! It could be snatched up off the floor any second, you don't know!

Dogs evolved to capitalize on the sudden appearance of an abundance of food by stuffing themselves silly. The amazing thing, when you think about it, is that they can ever learn to do anything else.

(I mean, that's my theory, anyway. No one really knows 100% for sure, but that's just part of the fascination of pet ownership.)
posted by ErikaB at 5:16 PM on August 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

Food is a dominance factor for dogs. Just like us, they have different relationships with regard to dominance with different dogs. For whatever reason your dog feels the need to (of feels he can) actively assert his dominance in this way to your friend's dog, but doesn't to most other dogs.

Both of my dogs will do this to other dogs, not necessarily both of them to any particular dog, though. One friend's dog who gets this treatment from both of them normally has food freely available in a big bowl. Mine don't. So, I took them to a small party at their place, where they did their eat-it-all routine without anyone noticing. One of mine walks into the room and literally extrudes an esophagus-width log of moistened dog food onto the floor, and the other immediately does the same on the couch.

So yeah. Dogs do this.
posted by cmoj at 5:30 PM on August 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

This is one of the many reasons why "leave it" is one of the most important commands to teach your dog. See this video.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 2:07 AM on August 4, 2012 [1 favorite]

He's asserting his dominance by showing the other dog that he's going to eat his food and other dog can't do anything about it.
posted by Beacon Inbound at 11:25 AM on August 4, 2012

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