Why Does My Dog Lay Down to Eat? (13 Reasons)

Why does my dog lay down to eat?” is a common question asked by many dog owners.

Though it might strike us as unusual or confusing, there are many reasons why dogs choose to eat while lying down.

In this blog post, we’ll explore all the reasons behind this behavior, whether it has any potential negative effects on dogs, and provide some helpful tips to navigate this behavior.

a grayish brown dog lays down to eat food from a pink bowl

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13 Reasons Why Dogs Eat Laying Down

If you are wondering why your dog prefers to eat while lying down, there could be several reasons. 

Here are some of the most common reasons why dogs eat while laying down.

1. Overly Tired

When dogs feel overly tired or fatigued, they may opt to eat while lying down to conserve their energy. 

This behavior is similar to how humans seek rest when feeling fatigued. 

This energy-efficient approach allows them to prioritize rest and conserve their energy while still satisfying their hunger.

2. Resource Guarding

a dark lab lays down to eat food from a white bowl

Resource guarding is another reason why dogs may choose to eat while lying down. 

By lying down, dogs can keep a closer eye on their surroundings and protect their food from other dogs or animals that may try to steal it. 

This behavior is instinctual and has been passed down from their wild ancestors. 

Dogs that guard their food may feel more comfortable eating while lying down as this position gives them a better vantage point to safeguard their resources.

Dogs may even resource guard you by laying on top of you!

3. Old Age

As dogs age, they may find it more difficult to stand for extended periods of time.

In such cases, opting to eat while lying down becomes a practical and comfortable choice. 

As dogs age, they may grapple with aches, pains, and reduced mobility due to conditions like arthritis or other age-related discomforts. 

This behavior is often seen in senior dogs and is a natural response to age-related changes in their bodies.

4. Instinct

Some dogs may prefer to eat while lying down due to their natural instinct.

In the wild, dogs are both predators and prey. When they hunt, they often take on a crouched position to stalk their prey. 

This same posture is used when they eat, as it allows them to be in a defensive position in case any other predators come around. 

They can hold onto their prey with their front paws and keep a watchful eye on any potential threats approaching.

Eating while lying down helps dogs to better protect their food from other dogs or animals that may try to steal it.

5. Preference

a golden retriever dog is lying down eating food from a stainless steel bowl

A matter of personal preference also comes into play, as some dogs genuinely favor eating while lying down. 

It could be more comfortable for them or they just find it easier to eat this way.

Lying down while eating can be a more relaxing and comfortable position, as it allows dogs to fully stretch out and relax their muscles.

Some larger breeds are more likely to eat lying down like German Shepards and Great Pyrenees.

6. Comfort

Eating while lying down is a more comfortable option, especially for big dogs and older dogs.

If your dog is a larger breed, standing up to eat can put a strain on their neck and back muscles. 

Laying down takes the pressure off and allows them to relax while they eat.

This is especially true for older dogs or dogs with joint issues, as standing for long periods can be uncomfortable.

7. Temperature Regulation

During hot weather, dogs may prefer to eat while lying down on a cool tile or wood floor to help regulate their body temperature. 

This is because lying down on a cool surface can help to dissipate heat and lower their body temperature. 

Many dogs will instinctively seek out cool surfaces like tile or wood floors or even lay on your shoes during hot weather, as these surfaces can help to provide relief from the heat. 

This way, dogs can combine the benefits of both cooling and eating at the same time.

8. Habit

a white lab puppy lays down to eat food from a stainless steel bowl

It is possible that some dogs developed a habit of eating while lying down, which can become their preferred position over time. 

This could be due to a variety of factors, including their individual preferences, past experiences, or training. 

For example, if a dog was allowed to eat while lying down as a puppy, that habit could carry over into adulthood.

9. Overweight

Overweight dogs may find it more comfortable to eat while lying down, as excess weight puts a lot of pressure on their joints and can even cause snoring

Standing for extended periods of time can be challenging for overweight dogs since it can exacerbate joint pain and discomfort. 

Lying down alleviates pressure on their joints and makes it easier for them to eat and digest their food.

10. Health Concerns or Injury

Health conditions or injuries are another possible reason why your dog lays down to eat.

Conditions like arthritis, hip dysplasia, or neck pain can trigger pain or discomfort when standing.

For instance, dogs suffering from conditions like arthritis might find extended standing painful, leading them to prefer a reclined eating position.

Similarly, dogs grappling with hip dysplasia might face challenges in maintaining a standing posture, making lying down a less painful option for consuming their meals.

Dogs experiencing neck pain might find this position alleviates strain and minimizes discomfort.

11. Digestion

a light golden retriever dog lays down to eat food from a wooden bowl

If your dog lays down to eat, it could be to aid in digestion.

This is because when dogs eat while standing up, they tend to swallow large amounts of air, which can lead to digestive issues like bloating or gas. 

By lying down, dogs can eat more slowly and avoid swallowing excess air.

Lying down to eat can help dogs to better digest their food, as it allows them to relax and not have to support their weight while eating.

12. Height Issue

For dogs that are too tall for their feeding bowls, this behavior can offer a practical solution to mealtime comfort.

Large or tall dogs have to crouch down or slouch in an awkward position to eat, which can be uncomfortable and lead to strain or injury.

If they struggle to comfortably bend down to reach their food, they might opt to lie down to eat to avoid these issues.

13. Lazy

Some dogs may simply be lazy and prefer to eat while lying down. 

Dogs, like humans, can have individual personalities and preferences when it comes to their behavior and activities. 

Some dogs may have a more laid-back or relaxed temperament, and may not be as interested in standing up to eat or engage in other high-energy activities.

Is it Bad for Dogs to Eat Lying Down?

a dark lab dog lays down to eat food from a turquoise bowl

Some dog owners wonder if it is bad for dogs to eat lying down.

Eating while lying down is not inherently bad for dogs. Many dogs eat in this position without any adverse effects.

In the wild, dogs’ ancestors would often eat while lying down to consume their prey, so it’s a part of their evolutionary history.

If your dog has a medical condition that affects their digestion, such as acid reflux or megaesophagus (enlarged esophagus), eating while lying down may exacerbate their symptoms.

7 Tips to Navigate This Behavior

What do I do if my dog lays down to eat? There are several steps you can take to navigate this behavior.

1. Observe

Observe your dog when they are laying down to eat.

If they seem comfortable and relaxed, it’s okay to let them continue doing so. 

Remember, dogs, like humans, have individual preferences.

Don’t try to force your dog to stand while eating if they’re not comfortable doing so.

But if this is a new behavior or you have any concerns, then that brings us to our next tip.

a light golden retriever dog lays down to eat food from a stainless steel bowl

2. See A Vet

If your dog suddenly starts laying down to eat, it’s important to take them to the vet to rule out any medical issues. 

Here are some other signs to look out for:

  • Trouble swallowing or choking while eating
  • Vomiting or regurgitation after meals
  • Loss of appetite or weight loss
  • Changes in behavior or activity levels

Your vet can perform a physical exam and run tests to determine if there’s an underlying health problem causing your dog’s behavior.

3. Lose Weight

When dogs carry excess weight, standing during meals might prove uncomfortable due to the strain it places on their joints.

Consider putting your dog on a weight loss program to help them shed those extra pounds.

Consult with your veterinarian to determine a healthy and safe weight loss plan that meets your dog’s nutritional needs and takes into account any underlying health issues. 

This may include changes to your dog’s diet, exercise routine, and lifestyle habits.

4. Elevated Bowls or Slow Feeders

Adjusting the height of your dog’s feeding bowls can be a simple and effective solution to make mealtime more comfortable for your pooch. 

Urpower Adjustable Elevated Dog Bowls will help relieve neck strain and reduce the amount of bending your dog needs to do while eating and help prevent issues like indigestion or bloat.

They will also prevent your dog from tipping over their water and food bowls.

Slow feeders are another option to consider if your dog is eating too quickly or experiencing digestive issues. 

These feeders have special ridges that require your dog to work harder to get their food, which help to slow down their eating, reducing the risk of bloat.

When selecting an elevated bowl or slow feeder for your dog, make sure to choose one that is appropriate for their size and breed.

Neater Raised Slow Feed Dog Bowl combines both a slow feeder and a raised feeder.

5. Positive Reinforcement

Positive reinforcement training can be a helpful tool if your dog is laying down to eat due to anxiety or fear. 

By rewarding your dog for standing while eating, you can help to encourage this behavior and build their confidence. 

Start by offering your dog a treat or praise when they stand while eating, and gradually increase the amount of time they stand before giving them a reward. 

Over time, your dog may begin to associate standing with positive experiences and become more comfortable with this behavior.

6. Peaceful Environment

Make sure that your dog has a peaceful and safe environment to enjoy their meals. 

This may include providing a quiet and calm space for them to eat, as well as ensuring that their feeding area is clean and free from distractions.

If there are other pets or people around, it may be causing your dog to feel anxious or uncomfortable while eating.

7. Move Bowl to a Different Location

If your dog has developed a habit of laying down to eat in a specific location, moving their feeding bowl to a different spot can be a helpful strategy. 

This can help to break the association between laying down and eating, and encourage your dog to stand while eating in the future. 

When selecting a new location for your dog’s feeding bowl, consider choosing a quiet and calm area away from things your dog could be scared of like brooms or balloons.


Now you have your answer to “why does my dog lay down to eat.”

There are various reasons behind this behavior including comfort, old age, resource guarding, instinct, and health issues.

If you’re concerned about this behavior, it’s always a good idea to talk to your veterinarian to rule out any underlying issues.

By following the tips provided in this post, you can navigate this behavior and ensure that your dog is comfortable and safe while eating.


Why Does My Dog Lay Down After Eating?

After your pup eats a large meal, their body expends a significant amount of energy to digest the food. Blood flow to the gastrointestinal system increases while blood flow to the brain decreases, leading to a reduction in oxygen supply and potential sleepiness.

Why Does My Dog Sit Down to Eat?

Your dog might sit down to eat because it is more comfortable for them, they are feeling lazy, or they have megaesophagus (an enlarged esophagus). Some dogs may have been trained to sit before being given their food.

Why Does My Dog Lay Down to Drink Water?

Dogs lay down to drink water because it’s comfortable, due to old age, because they are overweight, or they have an underlying health condition such as arthritis.

My Dog Is Laying Around And Not Eating

Decreased appetite can be due to gastrointestinal problems, dental issues, kidney or liver disease, infections, cancer, and pain. Other potential causes include stress, anxiety, and depression. It is important to take your dog to the vet to determine the cause and receive proper treatment. 

Why Does My German Shepherd Lay Down to Eat?

German Shepherds lay down to eat because it is a more comfortable position for them. It could also be due to resource guarding, old age, obesity, instinct, or a health issue.

Why Does My Puppy Lie Down to Eat?

Puppies tend to lay down to eat because it’s comfortable or because it’s hard to reach their bowl. Your puppy may also be overly tired after exercise or are resource-guarding their food.

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