As dog owners, we don’t want to just feed our dogs. Instead, we want to provide them with healthy, nutritious food that they really enjoy eating.
But how do we know whether our dogs like their food instead of just eating it because they’re hungry?
Do Dogs Like Their Food, Or Do They Just Eat it Out of Hunger?
Dogs do generally like their food.
This is because they have fewer taste buds, making their taste simpler and allowing them to crave varied flavors less.
However, just like humans, some dogs are pickier than others.
Their behavior during feeding time is one big clue as to whether they are enjoying their food or not.
In this article, we will discuss the signs to watch out for that will tell you if your canine companion is enjoying their food and signs that they would rather eat something else.
NOTE – This post might be useful if your dog always wants to eat more food.
Signs Your Dog Likes Dogs Food
Because we love our dogs, we want to see them happily gobbling up every meal that we serve them and enjoying every morsel.
But how do dogs actually respond when they like their food?
Are we reading their signals accurately?
Do they wolf down whatever you feed them because they really like it or because they are hungry and will eat anything edible?
To help you understand your dog’s behavior, here are signs that they love the food that you give them.
NOTE – You might also want to read this blog post asking the question: why do dogs like ice?
1. They Finish Their Dog Food Pretty Quickly
Dogs usually have massive appetites.
So if you don’t consciously limit their calorie intake to the recommended amount according to their age, weight, and levels of activity, they are likely to eat and eat and eat, even if they’re already full.
So if you notice that your dog’s food bowl is clean and empty a few minutes after serving dog food, that’s a clear sign that they enjoyed what you gave them.
Aside from having a hearty appetite, dogs also typically eat fast, especially if they find the food tasty.
2. They Don’t Beg for Treats or Human Food (Too Much)
Sometimes, no matter how well you train your dog, they won’t be able to resist the yummy smells wafting from the kitchen.
They will slip and try to beg for some of your food.
However, if they enjoy their food, they may be less likely to beg too much every time they notice you eat.
3. They Are Excited About Feeding Time
Dogs find routines comforting. And that includes knowing what will be in their food bowls every feeding time.
So if you have had your dog for a while, they probably know what you’re going to give them.
A dog that enjoys its food will get excited when they see you fill its bowl or sense that it’s mealtime.
They will happily wag their tail, run to where you are preparing their food, and even jump up and down as they wait for you to put the bowl down.
Needless to say, as soon as you put that bowl on the floor, they will excitedly attack that food and clean that bowl in no time.
4. They Respond to Commands Better
Dogs that like their food and look forward to feeding time also respond to commands better and perform more sharply before mealtime when they see you preparing their food.
This is because dogs view food as a reward.
And when they want the food that you’re going to give them, they will want to earn it.
So if you notice that your dog responds better or quicker to commands right before mealtime, that’s a likely sign that they approve of your choice of dog food.
NOTE – You might also enjoy this post looking at the question: Why do dogs like eating human food?
Signs Your Dog Doesn’t Like Their Dog Food
On the other side, some signs tell you that your dog dislikes their food.
While reasons like receiving medication, sickness, or stress can cause dogs to lose their appetite, sometimes, it’s just that they don’t find their food delicious.
1. They Push Their Food Around
If your dog does eat their food but does so hesitantly and pushes bits of food around in their bowl, it’s a sign that they’re trying to look for something tastier.
If you have recently switched to a different kind of dog food, they may be looking for the old dog food because the new one is unfamiliar and unappetizing.
If you need to make the switch, try to ease into it and introduce the new dog food slowly to help your dog get used to it.
2. They Don’t Finish Their Food
Another sign that your dog dislikes their food is if they don’t finish what’s in their bowl.
It’s especially important to take note of this behavior if your dog used to have a healthy appetite or be able to finish the same amount of food.
If the change happens suddenly, your dog could be suffering from an illness or might be stressed.
Dogs should not go without food for long, even if they are already adults.
So as soon as you notice that your dog isn’t eating, give your vet a call.
If you are in financial difficulty and are worried about vet bills, this website has some useful resources for charities to help you pay your bills.
(If you don’t live in the US, you can use Google to find similar help in your country).
3. They Are More Excited About Treats
Try to observe how your dog behaves when you eat.
For example, if your dog becomes aggressive when they smell your food or see you eating, beg incessantly, or barks non-stop to get your attention, it could be that they don’t find their food appetizing and want some of yours instead.
Dogs may have fewer taste buds than humans, but their sense of smell is much sharper.
In fact, it’s so strong that they can determine how something tastes just by smelling it.
If they smell your food and get more excited about it, it’s a sign that it’s time to look for better, more nutritious dog food or something with a different texture.
Note – This video has some great advice if you think your dog doesn’t like the food you feed them:
NOTE – You might also be interested in this post asking the question: Why is my dog eating slower?
Do Dogs Like Dog Food? Some Final Thoughts
Most dogs will enjoy most dog foods, dogs are nowhere near as picky as humans when it comes to eating, and they don’t need as much variety in their diets.
If you notice that your dog has suddenly gone off its food, you should take them to the vet.
Loss of appetite can be a symptom of many different health conditions, so it’s always better to be safe than sorry.
Tim is a proud, vetted, and experienced dog foster carer for a charity helping dog owners escape domestic abuse.
He has years of experience training and caring for dogs, both his own and other people’s.
He is an expert in canine behavior and is highly skilled in dealing with all dogs but specializes in the difficult ones that other people may struggle with.
When he isn’t fostering dogs, he is making friends with other people’s pups!