My Dog Will Only Eat From My Hand?

One of our readers asked us: my dog will only eat from my hand, how do I get it to take its food from others? While it might seem like a sign of love and devotion, there can be other reasons why this happens. Read on to find out.

If your dog only wants to eat out of your hand, you might think that your dog loves you so much that he only wants to be fed by you. However, there are other reasons why he might be behaving in such a way, even as an adult. It’s best that you investigate further.

It could be related to separation anxiety, boredom, and wanting to play, or it could even be a kind of marking behavior. 

My Dog Will Only Eat From My Hand

However, don’t start worrying about it all simply because your dog is the kind to be fed only by you. It is quite normal that many dogs love to have food from their owner’s hands; it is not natural for them to refuse to eat from a bowl, especially if it is not a pup.

Observe their behavior, make some changes in the food, time, and location of the meal, consult a vet, and follow this article’s guidelines to bring a positive difference in your dog’s eating habits. If all goes well, you will once again be proud of your furry friend for establishing another good pattern by eliminating a not-so-good one.

My Dog Won’t Eat From the Bowl but Will From Hand

When your pup is prone to eating your meals with your full attention on them, they prefer their owners to feed them food. While it is okay to hand feed your dog at a certain age, or sometimes, when he is sick or you feel like it, we don’t think that it will be possible to make them eat food several times throughout the day. 

So, it is essential to break this habit and teach them why it is important to eat from the bowl and not your hands.There can be several reasons dogs want to be hand-fed and refuse to eat from the bowl.

Your dog has separation anxiety

When dogs are hyper-attached to their owners, they develop separation anxiety with them, especially if the parents are working.

Your dog is guarding the house

Many furballs refuse to have food from the bowl because their attention is set on guarding the house – their owners, furniture, sibling pets, food, garden, etc. In this case, hand-feeding calms them down and brings them peace of mind.

Your dog is bored and wants to socialize

If you are a working dog owner, it can be difficult for your dog to spend their entire day alone, and it can be isolating and boring for them. Thus, when he sees you, he wants to stay close to you and socialize by being as close as possible.

My Dog Will Only Eat From My Hand

My Dog Will Only Eat From My Hand – How To Break the Habit?

Most dogs associate feeding on their human hands as a good thing because let’s face it; we have our love hormones flowing when we provide our furry friend. 

We call them good boy or good girl, and they know we are pleased, which is their entire life’s purpose coming to fruition. So, what should you do to break this reinforced behavior? 

You can find some suggestions below:

  • Please change the location of where you usually feed them.
  • Change their mealtime to teach them new thoughts and patterns of eating food from the bowl and by themselves.
  • Enrich their mealtimes to keep them busy and feeling bored. Keep him engaged while eating the food, enough to take his attention from remembering to eat from his owner’s hands.
  • Your dog might be avoiding having food from the bowl because he is sick or has an injury, or maybe going through something emotionally. It is always suggested to take a vet’s opinion and further make changes in the process.

Why Won’t My Dog Eat From My Hand?

While some owners have complaints about their dog not eating from bowls but only their hands, some, unfortunately, suffer from their dog eating from anything but their hands. So, if your dog won’t eat food from your hands, it can be because of the following reasons:

  • They are not used to eating off your hands and thus, will need to learn about hand-feeding.
  • They enjoy eating from their bowls and feel safe in their environment.
  • They are losing their appetite and might need a change of flavor/meal in their diet.            
  • They might be feeling sick or have an injury that you know nothing about, and thus, they are irritated or in pain and might need your attention on other issues.                                   
My Dog Will Only Eat From My Hand

Will a Picky Dog Starve?

Nah, they are more than likely just trying to corner your attention. That said, if it goes on for too long, consult a vet.

If a dog refuses to have food, they are trying to get you to give them something other than what you are feeding him. As a dog owner, you must have already understood that dogs can use manipulation techniques to get what they want, and starving themselves is common. 

However, even picky dogs do not starve themselves but continue to avoid having food for as long as possible. You don’t have to worry because a hungry dog won’t go over two days to have his meal, but you shouldn’t have to wait until then and consult a vet after your dog hasn’t eaten anything beyond 24 hours.

Why Does My Cat Keep Eating Dog Food?

It might just be trying it out for the taste.

It is normal for your cat to keep sneaking into your dog’s food. Even so, we have listed down some common reasons why your cat might be interested in dog food. 

  • The scent of dog food attracts them and tingles their meaty senses.
  • Cats are picky about their food and might dislike its texture.
  • He might want to mimic your dog’s behavior.
  • Some cats eat dog food because they like its taste.              

You can try changing the location of your cat’s food bowl to keep them interested in their meal. You must also take her to the vet for a check-up since many cats behave this way if they feel sick or accessible in their bodies.

Why Is My Dog Not Chewing His Food?

They might have dental problems or they are stressed or distracted.

They have a dental issue

Your dog might have a toothache or some other dental issue such as gingivitis that is causing him enough pain not to chew or eat food.

He is distracted

Some dogs remain so distracted that they want to finish their food so that they can get back to playing/roaming around the house. Give them meals that take time to complete and require chewing to focus on eating rather than being distracted by the surroundings.

He is stressed

One of the survival instincts of dogs is to devour food. If there are other dogs in the house, they might be stressed about competing with them and thus, fail to chew their food well.

My Dog Will Only Eat From My Hand

Frequently Asked Questions

Why does my dog like me to feed him by hand?

It might be because of insecurities or separation anxiety. It could also be a sign of attention-seeking behavior.

Your dog might be scared or feel unsafe in the environment where his food bowl is kept. However, there can be many reasons for his behavior, mostly reinforced or training as a pup when mainly fed with hands. You can take them to the vet to learn ways to keep them hooked to the bowl and not your hands.

Why does my dog not want to eat from his bowl?

It might be because the dog wants to be fed by you for several reasons we mentioned earlier.

Your dog might not want to eat from his bowl because he is looking for love and attention from you, or he doesn’t feel safe eating alone, or he is scared of his environment or other pets. 

It can also be because he is bored, sick, or wants to socialize with someone. The reasons can be many, and thus, you might need professional help to figure out the problem.

Is it bad to hand feed your dog?

Once in a while, it is fine, but it should not be a habit.

It is not bad to feed your dog with your hand sometimes, however, providing him with your hand all the time can be an issue in the long run since it becomes reinforced behavior and becomes difficult to break. So, no, you must train them to eat from the food bowl and not your hands, not all the time.

Why is my dog scared to eat?

They might be nervous or scared of something in the home.

It is especially when there are other pets in the house that your dog might be scared or uncomfortable in the surroundings to eat from the bowl. 

If the bowl is kept near a washing machine or vacuum cleaner that makes noise, he might never eat from the bowl simply because he is scared and needs to be around you.

Why won’t my dog eat in front of me?

This could be a sign of submissive behavior

Your dog could simply be submissive. He is being friendly and respectful towards you and considers you his boss. 

Therefore, he avoids or doesn’t want to eat in front of me. However, if you think that there might be another reason for this behavior, we suggest you see a vet and discuss it all.

A Few Final Words

It is perfectly normal for your furball to want to eat from your hands, and it only means that they love you and feel safe around you. However, it can be not easy to feed your dog with your hands constantly, and so you must train them to learn to have food from their bowl. 

Learn all the reasons why he won’t eat it from the bowl, eliminate them one by one, and finally, teach him the new habit. Thank you for reading, we hope you enjoyed the content and it answered some of your queries. If you have more questions please drop them in the comments box below.

You might also want to read about: Why Does My Dog Shake When He Eats? And How To Stop Puppy From Eating Mulch.