Why Does My Dog Only Eat From My Hand? Answered!

Have you ever encountered this kind of problem where your dog only eats on your hands and never eats on their bowls? It is like they made your hands like their food bowl.

If you have encountered this kind of problem, do you know the reason why your cute dog acted like this? Here let me tell you the reason why your dog only eats from your hands. 

Why does my dog only eat from my hand? Your dog only eats on your hand and stops eating from their bowls because they feel that their bowl is not a safe place to eat. They will only eat from your hands because they know that they are safe with you. 

However, there are other things we can learn about this topic. We are going to tell you the different reasons why your dogs only eat from your hands. Also, we will list the effective ways that I, and my writers, have tested personally with our dogs that have the same issue. So if you are ready, let us go! 

First, let us know the reasons why your dogs want to eat from your hands. 

7 Reasons Why Your Dog Wants To Eat From Your Hand

Below are seven reasons why your dog wants to eat from your hands. After showing you the reasons, we will show you the ways to stop this negative behavior of your dog. So, let us proceed.

Your Dog Is Anxious And Scared

If you have two or more dogs in your house, one of the dogs is the alpha dog, or in other words, the boss. This boss may dominate and bully your other dogs. If this happened, one of your dogs who is submissive and scared will show signs of canine anorexia, which means a decrease or loss of appetite for food. 

If you start feeding your scared and submissive dog with your hands, your submissive dog will stop eating with your other dogs. Your dog will instead develop a new habit, which is eating on your hands. Many pet dogs will refuse to eat from their bowls when this happens because they will assume that their bowl is not a safe place to eat. 

Your scared dog will prefer to eat from your hands because it knows that you can shoo away the dominant dog that scares him/her if it comes near. 

Some dogs may also be scared of the environment where they eat. Are there any appliances that have loud sounds that can cause your dogs to be afraid, like vacuums or shakers? If yes, then these appliances may be scaring your dogs. That is why they avoid eating from their food bowl. Dogs love to eat in an environment where noise is not abundant. 

Most of the dog owners give their dogs a meal before they go out for work or school. That is why dogs started to link food with being alone. Dogs will have separation anxiety and refuse to eat unless their owner is around or hand-fed by their owners. An anxious dog is very attached to its owners and prefers to be fed by hands by its owner.

Your Dog Is Busy Guarding You

Our pet dogs are loyal, and they love to guard us. They want to guard their owners against everything! Your dog wants to guard you against birds, other dogs, lizards, spiders, and even butterflies! Your dog will always look outside the window, and if there are lots of things going around outside, your dog will be very busy guarding you. 

When your dogs are busy guarding you and your house, they start ignoring their bowl even though it has lots of yummy food. Once they have peace of mind, they will start eating from their food bowl. 

The problem is, owners, hand-feeding their dogs if this happened. While their dog is busy barking at lizards or birds outside, owners try to hand feed their dog. When owners do this, this will create bad behavior and habits for their dogs. That is why if something is happening outside, your dog expects you to come to them to give them food. 

Your Dog Wants To Interact With You

Becoming a dog is a hard life. Why? Because dogs spend most of their time alone in the house with their food bowl. They always wait for hours for their owners to come back home from school or work. That is why when you come back, they want to eat and socialize with you. 

This behavior is similar to their wild cousins. Wolves hunt together, and the weaker wolves wait for their pack leader to give them some food. 

The type of dog that will act like this is the dogs that are fearful and have low self-esteem. The reason why your dog wants you to hand-fed them is that they want to spend more time with you. 

The preeminent way to get rid of this habit is to boost the confidence of your dog. Increase the time you spend with your dog. Play with your dog, train your dog, and talk to your dog so that your dog won’t always thirst for your company. 

Your Dog Is Bored

Your dog can also be a picky eater. If you are giving your dog the same food every day, your dog might dislike that food. These dogs will only eat the same food if you feed them with your hands because you make the food more interesting. It’s good to give your dogs different food every day. 

Try changing the food of your dog per day. Feed them dry dog food on Monday, and on Tuesday, give your dog canned wet food. Or you can mix things up like topping the wet food on dry dog food. I would also suggest you switch brands every day or give your dog some fresh food every other day. 

Your Dog Has Full Stomach

Your dog might have a full stomach because of lots of snacks they have intake throughout the day. They will beg for food while you are eating, and we give them because we feel sorry for them when they start begging. 

Giving your dogs snacks without any playtime makes your dog lose their hunger. Your dog will only eat when you hand-feed them. Why? Because you are there to encourage your dog to eat. 

Your Dog Is Sick

The other reason why your dog wants to eat from your hands is that your dog is sick. Sickness can be toothaches, fever, cancer, or they have some parasites inside their body. Dental problems are usual for old dogs because as they grow, their teeth start decaying, and eating food becomes unpleasant. 

The food you give to your dog may be delicious but because they have dental problems, they lose their appetite. This is when they will ask you to crush their food into your hands to make it easier for them to eat. Be patient with your dog if this time arrives. 

Your Dog Became Used To It

When you always pet your dog and hand-feed them, they will get used to it. Your dog will think that it is good behavior because you always do it with them.

If your dog starts to wonder that this is good behavior, your dog will start eating on your hands only and will not eat in their food bowl. That is why you need to be careful of every action you do because your dog might get used to it even though it is a bad habit. 

6 Effective Ways To Make Your Dog Eat On Its Own

Like I have promised, I will give you effective ways to make your dog eat on its own. You can stop this habit and make your dog an independent eater by following our tips. The tips listed below have been researched properly and it is based on my and my writers’ experiences. 

Below are the six effective ways to make your dog eat on its own and not from your hands. 

Change The Location

The first tip is to change the location of your dog’s food bowl. This tip will work for owners with dogs that are very scared, anxious or lack confidence.

Changing the location of their food bowl to a safe place, away from loud things that make them afraid or other dominant and bully dogs will start to make your dog feel safe and will begin eating by themselves. 

If you have many dogs, you should give them different bowls. One dog should have its own food bowl. You can put their own food bowl on the respective crates and put them inside when it’s time to eat. By doing this, your other dominant dog will not scare off your anxious dog. 

Change The Eating Time

If you always leave dog food in your dog’s bowl before you leave and your dog does not eat because they became sad knowing that you are going to leave again, change their eating time.

You can give your dogs food an hour before their usual mealtime. By doing this, your dog will know that when they eat you will not leave the house. This will make your dog feel safe.

Put Another Delicious Food

This tip will work for owners that have a dog that is picky eaters. If you add delicious wet food to your dog’s meal, they will eat their food happily. Your dog will still eat the food you gave if it has delicious toppings even if you are not around. 

You can make your dog’s food delicious by changing the type of food you give them every meal or day. Try giving your dogs fresh food, like a chicken, during breakfast, and give them dog food, wet or dry, during lunch and dinner. By doing this, your dog will never lose appetite. 

Form A Meal Time

Your dog will lose interest in their food if they do not have a real sense of mealtime. You need to work on this, especially if their hand-feeding habits and their pickiness is becoming worse. Forming proper meal times will help your dog become disciplined. 

Start by not giving your dog any treats throughout the day. You will not hand over your dog treats. Also, never give your dog food while you eat, even though they look poor and cute when they start begging. 

Your dog’s mealtime should be between 20-30 minutes long. If they eat some and leave their bowl with leftovers after your given time frame, pick up their bowl and take it away. Hand them their bowl that has leftovers the next mealtime and leave it again for 20-30 minutes long. 

This will teach your dog some discipline. Your dog will learn that their food only comes to them during mealtimes, and they have limited time to eat. When you stop giving them treats or extra foods, your dog will start to have an appetite for their meal.

When your dog starts to feel hungry, they will never care if you are feeding them or not. 

Train Them Again

If the methods above fail you, you need to go back to the basics again. You have to train your dog again to eat from their food bowl again. The best approach is to feed your dog with your hand that is placed above the bowl.

Move your hand closer to the bowl until your hand enters the bowl. After that, drop the food in their bowl with your hand still near the bowl.

Go To Your Vet

The best tip I have for you is to take your dog to the vet. If your dog does not eat either on your hands or their food bowls, your dog might have an internal injury, sickness, or poor oral hygiene. If your dog does not eat for more than two days, you must take your dog immediately to the vet. 

Related Questions

Why Does My Dog Only Eat From My Hand

How Long Can Dogs Not Eat?

Dogs can survive three to five days without eating. However, it does not mean that you should not bring your dog to the vet if they do not eat for three days. Prevention is better than cure friend.

What Time Should I Feed My Dog?

Dogs should eat two to three times a day 5-10 hours apart. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner is the best feeding routine.

Can I Feed My Dog After They Vomit?

You have to wait for several hours before giving your dog food again after vomiting, but you should still give them water. If your dog vomits and after an hour or two and your dog acts completely normal, you can give them food again.

Final Thoughts

Your dog only eats from your hands because they are scared and anxious to eat alone. Sometimes they make it a way to spend time with you, especially if you are always out of the house. If your dog has a bad habit like this, have patience with your dog and not be angry with them.

Source: goodnesspetfood.com, fluffyplanet.com

Jake Willhoite
Jake runs AnimalDome.com and has had cats and dogs his entire life. As a kid his family adopted several dogs from the local shelter which set him down the path of animal rescue.
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