My Dog won’t eat from the bowl but will from my hand

In this brief discussion, we’ll answer the question “ why my dog won’t eat from his bowl but from my hand? “  We will also discuss if it is okay to hand feed your dog, why dogs prefer hand feeding and how you can make your dog eat on his own.

Why is my dog not eating from his bowl?

There are a number of reasons that can make your dog want to be hand fed instead of eating from his bowl. It may be because you have conditioned this behavior in him or because they have a guarding problem.

In such cases, hand feeding can prove beneficial for the time being. But doing it very often can make them dependent on you to eat their food. Therefore, you need to figure out when hand feeding is necessary and when you can leave them to eat their food themselves.

Is it okay to feed my dog with my hand?

Yes, it is okay to feed your dog with your hand as long as you do it in moderation. Hand-feeding your dog is not necessarily bad for them. In fact, sometimes trainers recommend hand feeding for dogs who are way too dominating or territorial around their food.

However, you should keep a balance between hand feeding and bowl feeding because hand feeding your dog more frequently than required can make them used to it. They might avoid eating from their bowl altogether. 

You should be able to hand feed them but still leave them alone with their bowl so they can eat on their own.

Why does my dog prefer hand feeding over his bowl?

There can be several reasons that drive dogs to stop eating from their bowl. Some of these reasons are given below:

  • If your house has more than one dog, the submissive of them may stop eating due to the dominating dog. If you hand feed your dog in such situations, he may develop a habit of hand feeding.
  • If your dog has a guarding tendency towards your home, you may find him busy looking out for any threats. They pay less attention to their food and only eat when they are hand fed.
  • Your dog may also demand to be hand fed as a way to get closer to you and spend more time with you. Dogs are loving creatures and love to spend time with their owners. If they don’t get enough attention, they come up with ways to gain your attention.
  • Your dog can also get bored with his current food due to which he refuses to eat from his bowl and only eats food when it is hand fed.
  • It is also possible that your dog is full from eating his snacks and does not feel like eating more.
  • If your dog is suffering from any illness, it can lower its appetite due to which it can refuse to eat from its bowl.
  • You may sometimes reinforce hand feeding in dogs by praising them after they eat something from your hand. They associate it with good behavior and develop the habit of hand feeding.

How can I make my dog eat on his own?

Dogs can develop the habit of hand feeding due to various reasons. Fortunately, there are a number of ways you can use to amend their behavior. Some of the ways are given below:

  • You can make dogs with a guarding problem eat on their own by changing the location of their food bowl to a safe place, away from loud noises and distractions.
  • You can also change their meal times and give them food when there are no distractions outside.
  • If your dog refuses to eat because it’s time for you to leave home, it will be helpful to change their meal time an hour before you have to leave. This will give them a sense of safety and they will eat their food on their own.
  • If your dog refuses t eat because he’s bored with his food, change his normal food to something more delicious or give him his favorite treats along with his food. This will help to entice them to make their food more appealing.
  • Avoid giving them treats during the day so that when it is time to eat their meal they are hungry and eat well.
  • You should establish strict meal times because unorganized meal times can make them lose interest in eating their food. You need to restrict their treats and show them they can only eat at mealtimes on their own.


We answered the question “ why my dog won’t eat from his bowl but from my hand? “  We also discussed if it is okay to hand feed your dog, why dogs prefer hand feeding and how you can make your dog eat on his own.


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