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Dog is afraid of eating and drinking out of a bowl.

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Dog is afraid of eating and drinking out of a bowl.

Hello John,

Could you please help me figure out why for the last 3 years my 12-year-old mixed black lab refuses to drink out of a bowl and now even a flat platter. She approaches her food bowl with fear as well. If there is even the slightest bit of noise or if her food drops on the plate (flat also) she cowers. She will eat snow, drink rainwater off the deck and water from the bird bath.

Our vet said it was not uncommon for elderly dogs to do this. Because she has cataracts she explained it could be that she feels like she is going into a tunnel. I thought she would eventually get thirsty enough and succumb to the platter, but she circles around it and refuses, so I gave in and poured it on the floor where she lapped it up one glass after another. Is this just a bad habit? Should I just accept that she is old and continue with what I’ve been doing?



(Monday, September 17th, 2018)

I will shortly be looking for volunteers to test a theory I have as to what is causing this issue with at least some of the dogs. It may provide a potential and relatively simple and inexpensive treatment. (Or it may be a dead end.) It’s going to take me a while to find the time to get everything written out. Please be patient.

– John ‘Ask The Dog Guy’ Wade

Embracing Science and Common Sense

Dear Karen,

When I first read this I found it mildly amusing. To hear of a dog with even a speck of Labrador Retriever being afraid to eat and drink is like finding a couch potato afraid of the remote. After a bit though I got to thinking were I in her paws and something was making me afraid to do something critical to my very existence it wouldn’t be so funny particularly considering how often she must face it.

Certainly something triggered this but what is moot. I’m betting this dog has other issues. Eccentricities that indicate a predisposition for anxiety. Thunder, fireworks, hot air balloon phobias for instance or just a nervous dog that when something scares her it sticks. In this case, the fact  that it’s associated around one of the basic necessities of life makes it likely that this is a “wiring” problem more so then cataracts alone.

If we were able to make it impossible for her to eat or drink any other way then out of regular bowls she would eventually succumb. I have never known a physically healthy creature to avoid water. Even animals that know full well there are crocodiles in the water will in spite of their fear drink when they must. However with your dog, even if I were willing to wait her out by making it impossible to otherwise get sustenance, what’s the point? She’s likely a dog predisposed to anxiety now going on 13, you’ve coped with this for 3 years, why not for a few more? Why put either of you through it. Besides, at 13 her kidneys may not be as efficient as they once were and it may be dangerous to wait her out.

If you want to try a couple of more things, see f she’ll chew on ice cubes.  Slightly more convenient and less messy for you. Or buy another bird bath made with the same material as the one she will drink out of but where the bowl is removable. After she’s been drinking out of that in the yard for a while. Bring the bowl part in and see what happens.

Trying her out on an anti-anxiety medication for 12 weeks might be worth a shot as well. For most behaviours you’d have to form a behavior modification plan as well but if we could calm her mind, I should think that the pleasure of eating and drinking would be enough positive reinforcement.

John Wade –

Much to my surprise, based on the comments and private emails I receive this problem is more common then I would ever thought. I’m beginning to develop a theory as to why. I need to see some video of dogs refusing to eat and owners attempts to encourage them. So feel free to send. If the file is to large send to my email by uploading to It’s a free service that works simply and well.

Here are some of the videos sent in so far (and comments below the videos):

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305 thoughts on “Dog is afraid of eating and drinking out of a bowl.”

  1. Kimberly

    I have the same problem with my young 3 year old Shih-tzu. She is afraid to eat and drink from a plate/bowl of any material. We feed her straight on the floor. She even barks or growls at her water bowl. Sometimes she does get desperate and lap and then skit back. She will do that several times. Not sure what to make of it. Help?

      1. Laura Cole

        I have a toy Pomeranian who has always been fearful of eating out of her food bowl and drinking water. Ever since I brought her home has a tiny puppy she has been afraid of movement of the food in the bowl, Movement of water in the water bowl, Shadows in the kitchen area caused by her own body, I have radiators that make noises when they turn on and there is one in the kitchen that when the heat goes on in the winner she refuses to go into the kitchen. She is afraid of the Refrigerator noise and my water cooler noise as well. I have to stand over her in order for her to eat and I switched to making my own homemade dog food because she was afraid every time she crunched Kibble in her teeth. She loves going for rides and going outside and she barks like a ferocious dog at anyone who walks by. She is not afraid of people or going to places. Yet feeding her is a chore. As far as drinking water I have to give it to her in a small tiny dish and hold it for her or give her water in a Dixie cup. She refuses to drink out of the community water dish used by my other dog and the cats. It’s actually quite ridiculous how I’ve had to cater to her her whole life but if I didn’t she would never eat or drink water. I have never been able to figure out why she has always been like this.

      2. My 11 months old pincher is afraid to drink and eat from her bowls. She barks to them a lot. Do not know what to do? By the way she is afraid of the busses too….

    1. Erin Mantle

      Was just wondering if you ever figured out anything that helped your dog. I have a 10 year old Shih tzu that does the exact same thing. He will go outside and stand in the sprinklers while they are all on to get a drink, but has a hard time with his water bowl.

      1. Hi Erin,

        Nothing yet. I have some ideas but I’m going to need to create a research on-line survey and “things to try and report back” survey for people to fill out. I have to software in place but I don’t have the time yet to create the forms myself. Unless I get some help from someone familiar with the software I’m using it will be a while as I have too many other projects on the go right now. I hope to find the time soon as this is a puzzle that I would really like to solve.


        1. I have a five-year-old Chihuahua mix that has just started being so scared of her food and water to the point that she will go all day without eating or drinking! We kept thinking it might be the mat we had it on, so we changed that. It didn’t help. We changed the bowls we fed & watered her out of but that didn’t help either. I have been experimenting different ways to encourage her to eat and drink again & tonight I squatted beside her, petting her & talking to her. She finally ate. I also started her on two Bach Flower Remedies to see if that will help. I feel like she has suddenly developed some kind of anxiety issues. Before this started, she was pretty aggressive and not scared of much, other than thunder. We do have to leave her by herself when we work and I wonder sometimes if she didn’t get traumatized during one of the storms while we were gone. I wasn’t aware of the problem was so common until I read these post. Please keep us posted if you come across anything that might help our fur babies!

        2. Hi John,
          any progress on this yet? My 7yo Shih Tzu started doing this with water and later with food.
          I may have scared him by dropping my phone next to his water bowl while he was drinking, although he didn’t look too scared at the moment.
          OK, but it’s been over a month and it was in a different house altogether! We moved the feeding place and changed bowls. He will eat and drink but someone must hold it up for him. If we put the bowl down he stops. He’ll sit and growl at the bowl for half an hour until someone comes and holds it.
          And yes, he quizzically looks up at the human while he drinks or eats. I think I know why this happens but
          How Can I Fix This???

        3. John,
          Was the form ever made available? I have a 7 year old Morkie (Yorkie/Maltese) who suddenly became terrified of her water and food bowls. She used to use the self feeding and watering bowls and when she’d drink the water, sometimes the water would displace and there would be a big “glug” noise as the bubble released so I was thinking maybe that scarred her. But I replaced those with regular bowls and nothing has changed, despite no “glugs”. I caught her drinking really nasty water out of remote areas of the back yard, got rid of all of them, thinking that would force her to use her bowls which, obviously, it has but…she still approaches the bowls skittishly, leading back, ready to retreat quickly. I’ve tried all different kinds of bowls, too. I also thought at one time maybe her eyes are going bad and she might see her reflection in the water and it might be freaking her out so I started putting her bowls where there’s a shadow (it reflects more if it’s in the light). Nothing has helped….except….if/when I OVERFILL. If I have the water bowl full up to the rim, she’ll drink. Same goes for food. It has to be FULL to the top. Once a little bit of the bottom of the bowl starts peeking through, that’s it, she won’t go near it. I hope this helps someone!

          If the survey you mentioned is available, I’d be interested in participating. Thanks!

        4. Bernadette Mulvey

          I have an almost 5 year old border collie mix that has eating and drinking fear. A human needs to stand over each bowl or he won’t eat or drink. So strange. His brother has no issues like that and they were adopted together at 8 weeks

        5. Please help me!

          My 7 year old dogs has all of a sudden become terrified to eat or drink from the same things she’s always eating and drinking from. I’ve tried everything including buying new ones etc. she circles around crying until I pull food out to the floor or tip water on to the floor also.

          The vet said they are not sure and all I can do is put her in an antidepressant and see if it helps. It’s becoming a full time job and I don’t know what do do next

          1. I have an almost 8-year old greyhound (rescued when he was 2) who is on a fear-driven hunger strike. He was licking his food bowl clean at the end of breakfast last week when it fell onto the floor from the stool it sits on and landed with a bang. Now he basically refuses to eat breakfast and has started peeing a little near where I feed him when I try to encourage him. I also put the bowl in his face to show him there was some left, and that must’ve been the kiss of death. He is VERY stubborn and nervous when I try to train him into new behavior. I’ve tried putting the food in different containers and locations, but breakfast is just OUT. He will hesitantly eat some of his dinner at least, and he takes treats… He’s not showing any signs of illness… knowing him, I’m convinced this is all fear related, and I don’t know how to help him because he sees me as part of the problem ☹️

        6. Leischen Celsur

          I have a 13 year old Pomeranian who came to me about a year and a half ago after his first owner died. For the first year he was alright and then in September we moved. Since we moved for about 3 months now, the food and water bowls seem to scare him and he will not use them. I put his dry food on the floor now I put him in the dry empty bath tub and let the water barely run and he drinks water as it runs. He seems scared of bowls now even though he didn’t before. He is a nervous dog, separation anxiety from me but I just thought it was because he had lost his owner of 12 years.

    2. Anthony

      Same here with an older Shih-tzu. I did discover that if I stir the water slightly with my finger she will quickly lap some water. I think her eyesight is going, and she may see her reflection in the water and react negatively to that.

    3. I have a rescue chihuahua minpin who is afraid of eating out of a bowl too. She used to be ok with it but eventually she developed this fear. She’ll be 2 yo in October. Other of her phobias include: being pulled by a leash, the leash itself sudden movement, kids, puppy pads (she slipped on one once and after that she would panic if I put her on one).
      Surprisingly she is not afraid of fireworks.

    4. We are experiencing the same thing, it all started after we lost our Abbey, 13 year old wheaten terrier who was a very dominant Alpha female, our Zoey 10 year old Mini schnauzer only ate after Abbey finished eating. We were not sure how much Zoey actually ate since we always left food in their bowls. Once Abby passed I noticed the food not being touched so I thought my husband was filling it up and me just not knowing it & sMe with water . I bathed her and noticed how thin she was I weighed her and she lost 3 pounds which was a lot for a 11 pound dog & noticed as well her water bowl not being drank out of and her licking the shower door and floor after a shower and water on the floor .
      I become very concerned I started hand feeding her she refused her food , I tried some hamburger meat and she would eat that but only if I hand fed her or put it on the floor. She will only drink out of a white disposable bathroom cup , I tried every kind of bowl there was I put them in different areas of the home Iike the vet suggested / did not work. Therefore each day I measure a cup of water and make sure she drinks that much & I cook her hamburger & chicken and hand feed her.
      She has always been a bit quirky but she is scared of her own shadow now, I do not know if this is depression from losing her mate. She has never been alone until now.
      I am afraid if we held out until she ate from her bowl or drank we would have a dead dog and I donor want that!! So for now we had feed and water her. People think we are crazy but she is our baby, I don’t know if getting another mate would help or not.

      Suggestions !!

      1. My mini-Schnauzer Gandalf, suddenly became fearful of his water bowl. He would drink outside from a gallon ice cream bucket or sometimes from a metal pan but only if there was no rain water or snow. I recently moved to another home and for week all he would drink was water I put on the ground. I dug a hole and put water in it which was muddy. He got sick and vomited horrible brown and white stuff. I worried he was getting dehydrated. He wanted to eat all the time and appeared he was always hungry. After he vomited, I took him to the vet and he was very dehydrated, running a temp and his organs were shutting done. He had also lost weight. The reason for his appetite was he had Cushing’s disease. I had to have him put to rest. He was 10 yrs old and I got him from a breeder when he was 6yrs and was no longer needed for breeding. He was mistreated by her and neglected. He was terrified of any kind of noise or movement. He craved love and affection which I gave him for 4 yrs.
        My first Mini Schnauzer had Cushing’s disease which is common for smaller dogs. I had her put to rest.

        1. Hi Betty,

          Thanks for your input. As I’m not a veterinarian, I did a quick check into symptoms of Cushing’s and a symptom is excessive thirst, rather than avoidance, so I was wondering if there might have been something else other than Cushing’s in play?

          For what it’s worth, I’ve come to believe that the fear associated with drinking or eating out of bowls is in some instances connected to stray current in the vicinity of the bowls. For anyone else struggling with this problem you can purchase a non-conductive mat. The problem is convincing a dog that’s been receiving shocks to go to the bowls, mat or not.

          You mentioned as well that Cushing’s disease is common for smaller dogs. Only because I’m a strong advocate for better practices in the breeding of dogs, I think it’s worth mentioning that “Though a direct connection to inheritance has not been established, it’s widely suspected that a genetic predisposition to Cushing’s disease exists due to the prevalence of the disease in certain breeds.”

          – John “Ask The Dog Guy” Wade – Embracing Science and Common Sense

          Visit For A Free Weekly Newsletter
          & FREE Brain Drain Activity Guide For Your Dog

          PS Don’t forget if you find that the many free resources I provide companion dog owners via Ask The Dog Guy website ( and elsewhere (YouTube, newsletter, etc.) inform, save you time and, or money, why not buy me a coffee? Click the link to Buy Me A Few Coffees

          PPS You can also become a Patron and support spreading the word about science and common sense in companion dog training by clicking on the membership link instead. Click the link to Become An Ask The Dog Guy Patron (Various levels of sponsorship have benefits for you as well.)

    5. Has it resolved and if so how? I have the same problem with me shish Tzu also 3yr.

      1. Jeanette Hollinghurst

        Our shtzu is three he always drank out his bowl and eat now he will only eat his food if we put it on the floor , he stands then lies down next to his bowl but will not eat ? Sometimes he will bark at his bowl how do we make him eat from his bowl ? We have bought hi 4 new ones no change ? He had his man things chopped off 6/8 weeks ago but was fine now fir the past week or so he won’t have his food out of his bowl , can u help plz

    6. My 4 month old pup is the same but will drink from the plate under a pot plant. I’m going to try putting a heavy object in her water bowl to see if this helps.

    7. joann vitiello

      My 17 yr dog who has glaucoma was suffering from the same problem and would bark at water and would only drink from the floor. My son-in-law’s suggested raising the bowl to the dogs chest concerned the dog suffered with depth perception. It worked, my dog approaches the bowl without concern, no longer afraid . I hope this works for your dog .

      1. Patricia Franklin

        Joann, thank you for your comments, this makes total sense to us as our 9-year old lab/setter mix will drink out of the bottom dish of a plant that is closer to chest level. We’ll be trying this. Thank you!

      2. Bobbette Mattis

        I have the same issue with my 12 year old shitzu. I have to dump his food on the floor. He won’t even take it off of a flat paper plate. His water bowl has to be completely full to the brim before he will drink from it. He prefers also to lap at the wet shower floor when he can. I think it’s his vision causing this.

    8. Samantha

      My 10 year old shitzhu has this exact reaction as well. He will growl at the bowl full of fresh clean water until some one pours water on to the floor, he’s survived this way for well over five years. Have you found any alternatives? We’ve tried special water bowls, plates, saucers and tiny cups, but he continues to growl for the floor. When he eats he will take a mouth full of food and drop it on the floor and eat smaller bites. Perhaps bowl phobia? Just wondering if you had any success since your post.

    9. could all these dogs that refuse to drink—- possibly creating static electricity and getting shocked when they try to drink? I have gotten shocked when I first put my hand in the dish water, during the dry winter time.

    10. Jerry Spradling

      I too have a Shih Tzu that cowers from his food and water dishes.
      The little man would jump in the tub for whatever he could get of water.
      I now just open the faucet and let him drink his fill.
      You can drop some small pieces of something tasty in there and he or she can have a buffet.
      Washing up afterwards is a snap.

    11. Heather

      My schnoodle rarely eats his food from a bowl, I’m tipping it onto my rug. He does drink out of a S/steel bowl though, I think it’s the noise his food makes in the plastic bowl (s/s is a no no as it’s very noisy)

    12. Paige K

      I have a shih tzu also that does the same thing! I have tried everything and it just seems to be getting worse as he ages.

    13. Natasha

      I’m unable to post a general comment. The site will only allow me to reply to one that is already posted. But I hope this helps someone, even if only one person. My dog also stopped drinking from her water bowl (Metal…Which she’d been drinking from for years). She also suddenly stopped eating her food. I tried several different bowls. Started feeding her homemade food on a plate. I gave her water in a cup and bingo! Success. Try a cup. I switched her food and she’s now eating dry and wet mixed which she’s fine with in her metal bowl. Still refuses to drink water from the metal bowl. The cup is annoying. But if you’re desperate, give it a try. Worked for us.

  2. our 8 month old maltese that we got from a rescue all off a sudden has the same problem. He was eating and drinking fine from his bowls and now he is scared to death of them. He will eat the food off the floor with coaxing, and drink the water from a coffee mug and it takes a lot of coaxing for him to drink. Any sudden movement while he is eating or drinking and he freaks out. I don’t know what caused this or what to do. I wish I could send you a video of his behavior.

      1. sandra montes

        My 12 year old mix terrier has been showing signs of the same thing, that’s why I googled to see what was going on. ?????

        1. Hi Rachel,

          I missed seeing this. I do recall receiving a video a while back, but there was no information as to who it was from or accompanying questions. Can you provide me with some details? I may still have the video.

          – John “Ask The Dog Guy” Wade – Embracing Science and Common Sense

          Visit For A Free Weekly Newsletter
          & FREE Brain Drain Activity Guide For Your Dog

          PS Don’t forget if you find that the many free resources I provide companion dog owners via Ask The Dog Guy website ( and elsewhere (YouTube, newsletter, etc.) inform, save you time and, or money, why not buy me a coffee? Click the link to Buy Me A Few Coffees

          PPS You can also become a Patron and support spreading the word about science and common sense in companion dog training by clicking on the membership link instead. Click the link to Become An Ask The Dog Guy Patron (Various levels of sponsorship have benefits for you as well.)

    1. Michelle

      Our golden doodle is the exact same. He was fine with food and water dishes up until 6 months or so… trying everything. Will eat off floor not plates. Will drink out of a cup sometimes . Afraid of any type of bowl at any height

    2. Holly Obrien

      We have a similar problem here. Our Husky/Chow/Retriver mix has always eaten and drank perfectly fine out of her bowls. Suddenly about two weeks ago she became very ill we had to take her to the ER for vomiting. Ever since then she refuses to eat or drink out of any bowls. She acts as if she is scared of bowls. She will drink a small puddle of liquid off the floor but not out of a bowl. If we put a flat plate down and put a small amount of liquid in there along with her food she will eat and drink that after some coaxing. She will not even drink chicken broth for beef broth out of a bowl and that’s some pretty tempting stuff. All her food and water bowls are kept inside so no chance of any type of poisoning occurring so we don’t think eating or drinking is what made her get sick a few weeks ago. ALSO she has never been particularly skittish of noises, even thunderstorms and fireworks were well tolerated. But all the sudden in the past couple weeks she is jumping at any sudden noises and seems more on edge than she used to be. All blood work at the vet came back clear for any type of disease or illness. We rescued her a year-and-a-half ago and she’s always been such an easy going and well balanced dog so this change in her behavior is completely out of character and very bizarre.

      1. I have a 3 month old Schnauzer who has developed the same problem. Will drink from bowl in crate but not nowhere else. And refuses to eat unless from floor or hand feed?
        What should I try?

      2. Hi we have 7 years old newfoundland female, she was always an anxious dog but lately this is progressing more.. She is afraid if someone calls to our house, she would run to hide somewhere safe.. Lately she is afraid of eating from her bowl, she has metal bowl, but we tried different one and nothing works, she would eat no problem from my hand but I don’t know if this is a good thing to keep doing it? We checked her bloods and her results are OK, she will eat treats and dental sticks from hand with excitement, she is in a good form, running, playing etc, but when it comes to feeding its a problem and we can see she is hungry…
        Can I continue feeding her from hands 9r what other solutions could you give us?

        1. Hi Joanna,

          That’s a lot of work; feeding a Newfoundland by hand every day. Hopefully, you can find an easier solution.

          Left untreated or ‘treated’ with the sort of nonsense advice usually provided by well-meaning amateur dog trainers, veterinarians and vet techs it is not uncommon to see anxiety blossom as a dog ages. Even working with someone that has the correct expertise can have limited impact but better to work with someone that has better quality and more ‘rice’ to ‘throw against the wall’.

          By any chance does the room/area she normally eats have more than it’s fair share of electrical devices? Has anything new been installed anywhere in the home or in particular the room she eats?


          John ‘Ask The Dog Guy’ Wade
          Embracing Science and Common Sense

          I PRESSED ON

      3. 5 months ago, Our 3.5 year old rescue mix (mostly Doberman and chow) became fearful of his bowls. we’ve tried different materials, shapes and sizes and elevating the bowls. He will eat and drink if we hold the bowls and will drink out of any bowl if our neighbor’s dog is also drinking from same one. So we know it’s not a physical issue. In the last 2 weeks, he’s afraid of his bed and occasionally paces while panting heavily and now is afraid of thunder and the vacuum cleaner. We went to vet for his annual physical and no physical issues. We believe it’s all related to anxiety but don’t know the cause as he’s always been a chill dog and there’s not been any changes in the household or any recent traumatic events.

      4. Holly Brittingham

        Sounds similar to what we are dealing with. Our 14 year old whippet German Shepard mix is suddenly afraid of food and water. She had bad allergies that made her very itchy and this seemed to coincide with this odd behavior. If I lift the bowl up to her mouth, she will eat and drink but otherwise won’t. Vet told us to see how it is in a couple of days but I’ve never seen anything like this with her before.

  3. My chihuahua has the same problem he’s about 3 years old, we adopted him and have been trying to feed him out of different bowls or plates and the rattling noise seems to scare him and refuses to eat on his bowl.

      1. My third rescue shih tzu molly is exactly how everyone else is describing down to a tee. I will email some videos. The only things I know about mollys past are that she lived with an older lady with alzeimers who hand fed her. I wonder if she used to forget to give her clean water so she drank water from else where. I really don’t know. Molly will eat off 2 sheets of kitchen roll but is still a little skittish when eating and sometimes a little reluctant to approach it. Any suggestions welcome. Good luck with all your lil babies. X

    1. julie Ann pearson

      My recently adopted from a shelter female 7 year old Chihuahua is the same way. They even said at the shelter she had to be hand fed. Well, I started he on rotisserie chicken and place it on the very rim of a white desert size plate and she will eat it, but if it gets to the center of the plate she cowers and backs off, so I just nudge it and she eats it. We are working on her favorite things to eat as she is painfully skinny, her science diet small bite puppy food I now put a little hamburger fat on it and feed it to her on the rim of the plate and she laps it down. She can’t resist the fat on it. NOW, she struggles with drinking water from a bowl, but now I found that if I only use sealed ceramic bowl that are white with no rim she will drink if I use my fingers to splash the water to show her it is water. She was looking for water to drink on our wood deck boards? She is afraid of stairs, so I have been using positive reinforcements with chicken to coax her on the stairs, it is a lot of work but I feel she is weird for a reason, I am going to get her eyes checked out too.
      She is also only 4 lbs and needs to put on some weight. Eventually I think she will come around with patients and understanding.

      1. Brittany

        Hi Julie Ann,
        My new 3 y/o rat terrier is very similar. Rescued from a shelter and clearly never socialized, she’s coming around quite well in just 2 weeks. She and my 2 chill cats get along well, much to my relief. However she’s terrified of 3 things: other people, dogs, and the food bowl!! She clearly wants to eat, as I’m trying to make a schedule where she and the cats are fed at the same time and she’s gets very excited when the food bags start rattling. When her turn comes up and the food is poured in her bowl, she stops a few feet away and starts shaking. At first I felt awful, then annoyed, then helpless. She’ll eat from my hand, the floor, and at desperate times, the real chicken on the bowl rim.

        The cats are very good about not bothering her food, but I also don’t want to leave it there all day or night for them to be tempted.

  4. Chelsea

    My brother and his wife have a dog who is terrified of everything. Anxiety ridden. She is afraid of the water she drinks but will drink after much resistance. She also will urinate at the drop of a hat because of different fears and noises around the house. They refuse to seek the help of a trainer because they don’t believe in it. I have to live with the dog and want to help but am at a loss of what to do. I would hate living in fear like that and I’m sure it’s not enjoyable for her. Any advice? She is a rescue.

    1. Hi Chelsea,

      I agree that living in fear is not a state one should leave a dog when there are treatment options. This sort of problem requires a lot more background information before and advice can be provided. Did the rescue not provide any resources?


    2. Ann Jones

      I have a 10 weeks shih tzu x chihuaha & he seems spooked by his food & water bowls, I think we’ve tried about 5 different ones but it’s made no difference, he seems to prefer to starve rather than have a try, very rarely he will take some water but usually only once or twice a day, my vet said to hand feed him but I don’t want him to get used to that, if I drop his food on the floor he eats it, I tried making a trail of food towards his bowl but once the food trail ends he walks away. totally baffled

  5. My 3 year old whippet mix has the same problem. I rescued him when he was about 5 months old. He will drink out of his bowl as long as I hold it for him. But while I am holding it he looks around scared. Same issue with eating. He will eat all of his food out of the bowl but I have to sit with him and feed some of it to him. Still looking about scared like something is going to happen to him. I know he has anxiety issues. Anything I can do to help him? I do not want him to live in fear the rest of his life.

    1. Sherié

      This is the same behavior my 5lb, soon to be 10 yr old Yorkie-Chinese Crested Powder Puff dog began having one year ago upon moving into a new apartment. It began with just her food. No matter what type of dish, where or what was in that dish, she would not eat it. If I feed it to her by hand she will eat. If I place it on the couch or my bed on napkins and sit next to her she will eat that way, though tentatively. (I hate having food on either of these surfaces, but it seems to be the only way she’ll eat with the least amount of angst). She’ll eat it from my hands if I sit on the ground with her too but any noise at all and she jumps & stops eating. The last few months, she began crying at her water bowl, walking around it & sometimes barking at it. Now, she comes & gets me, brings me to her water bowl, I’ll squat down & place my finger in her bowl and she will drink like crazy. I can’t seem to coax her into drinking throughout the day. She’ll wait until she’s completely dehydrated – often waking me in the middle of the night. If she is at my parent’s house, or outside, or in my truck with me after a walk, she’ll drink water just fine.
      It’s very strange & clearly brings her great anxiety. It hurts my heart. She has become much more jumpy when it comes to noises at my apt and often jumps & skittishly runs off at the drop of a pin. She otherwise isn’t a skittish, anxious dog. It’s quite bizarre and concerning. I’m surprised to hear so many people also experiencing this odd behavior with their adult pets. Hmmm

      1. Hi Sherié,

        Thanks for adding your experience. I agree it is extremely surprising that this issue is as common as it is. That is not to say it’s common but this is one of the most visited threads on the website. Have you tried timed feedings with her? First 24 hours, fast her. No food of any kind but water readily available. Next 4 days, food down for 3 minutes and then taken up twice a day for 4 days with zero treats in between? Again, water should be readily available at all times. In some, it triggers a reset.

        Send video of what she’s doing now.


        John ‘Ask The Dog Guy’ Wade
        Embracing Science and Common Sense
        London’s #1 Referred Puppy and Dog Trainer

      2. Lisa Robles

        This is exactly how my 10 year old carin terrier/yorkie behaves! I’m so relieved to have found this site and these responses. We haven’t gotten to the issue with the water bowl (yet), so far it’s only her food bowl and only at home. She comes with me to work and eats just fine there. I’ve tried moving her food to various parts of the house and used different containers and surfaces. It’s exhausting and I feel so bad for her.

        We just went to the vet yesterday and they suggested I try switching her food to wet and see what happens, it was the same result. Now we’ll go back to see if there is some sort of antianxiety meds I can give her but I’d rather solve the problem than drug her.

      3. Hi Sherie,
        I suffer exactly from the same problem. Did you find a solution?

  6. Our 8 yr old Australian Terrier has the same issues. We first noticed bowl anxiety with his food bowl about 4 yrs ago. He was losing weight to the point that his ribs were showing. I took him to the vet but they found no obvious physical problems. One day my wife poured his food on the floor and he ate it immediately, and has gained back his lost weight. However, his water bowl anxiety has continued. His coat is dull and his poop is dry and hard. He’ll lick water off the sidewalk, out of puddles and from the creek but he can’t bring himself to drink out of a bowl or plate. He’d lay by his bowl until my wife holds it for him to drink. Now, he’s resisting that. His vision seems to be ok because he can see squirrels in the yard from the window. Help!!

  7. My Maltese Shihtzu x has started doing this too. I bought a self filling bowl, which made bubbling noises. This frightened her, so I switched back to her original bowl… But now she’s afraid of that too! She gets so thirsty I’ve found her drinking water from the shower floor (so unlike her). I’ve resorted to leaving different bowls all around the house. I hope this works. Do you have any ideas?

    1. Kerrylee

      My 9 year old Maltese shihtzu chopper” is frightened of both food and water bowls. He barks at both bowls, and is scarf to walk past them. Water bowls outside he is also afraid of, but quickly drinks from it. What do I do??


    My dog has this fear too. hes 4yrs old. it just started a month ago. his vet acted like I was crazy. he fears the blanket too. and when I pet his head near the left ear towards the neck he yelps and runs away. he is a pomchi. I got him from the breeder at 8 weeks old. he has anxiety previous to these new fears.

  9. Michael McKee

    My female Border Collie will not drink from a bowl outside but will drink from the same bowl if I put it in the house. She is 18 months old. She will drink from a small mud hole in the back yard.

  10. Renata K


    I have a three year old rough collie that has been having a similar problem for the past year. First we started out by changing the location of his water and food bowls and that helped for a while. One day while drinking from his bowl something fell and our dog got very scared from the noise. Since then I have changed the bowl from a round metal one to an oval plastic one and it helped a bit but still he can go without drinking for a long time . He will come up to the bowl stand over it might take one or two licks and will run away as if he is very afraid of something . I want to help him get over this because I can see that he goes through this fear all every day. Usually I hold the bowl of water for him and he will drink that way without a problem. Please advise on what I can do . Thank you

    1. Sabrina

      My 5 year old poodle is just starting to gain this fear. Something in her ceramic bowl made her jump (I think she actually knocked it and the water started moving in it) and from then on she refused to drink from it. For two days at night time she stood in the kitchen whining and I couldn’t work out what she wanted. I’ve tried switching bowls and that works for a time until she does something to scare herself again. I noticed if I put the bowl down and the water is moving it partly triggered this. At the moment I’m giving her water out of a pot I have to hold which isn’t sustainable!

      1. Sabrina

        !!Update!! Since knocking the bowl seemed to be the cause of why she refused to be drinking from it I bought a new set of bowls where the water and food bowls are in one unit (More solid, less harder to knock based on overall shape). She then watched me fill water from the kitchen into her little water pot and then I poured the water into her new bowl. She then drank from it with some encouragement and I gave her lots of positive reinforcement (petting and positive words, no treats). I did that the first few times she drank from that bowl and now she seems to be fine! It’s harder for her to knock this bowl and have the water move around so fingers crossed this is resolved!

  11. I am very surprised that searching the internet it seems like there are no “experts” that have any idea what is going on, despite this being a common issue. My Schnauzer is exactly the same way, terrified of any bowl of any material shape or size. She stands there contemplating approaching what is terrifying because she is very thirsty. A few laps and then you hear nails scuffing at the ground as she is trying to run away as fast as possible. There are no bugs, ants etc that could set her off… nothing. Yet she goes outside and drinks from the planter water trays with her face pressed up against the pot to get in there… none of this makes any sense whatsoever.

    1. Hi James,

      I don’t think it’s common at all. That’s one of the factors contributing to why in those rare instances people like yourself encountering this are struggling to get to the bottom of the why and what to do about it. It’s also unlikely that “nothing” sets her off. I’d be curious in your case to see what happened if you used a planter water tray in the exact same area her current water dish was. If she spooks does she stop using the outside water tray. I’d also try removing the outside water tray and put an identical water bowl as her inside bowl in its place and see what happened.


      1. Bobbette Mattis

        I have the same issue with my 12 year old shitzu. I have to dump his food on the floor. He won’t even take it off of a flat paper plate. His water bowl has to be completely full to the brim before he will drink from it. He prefers also to lap at the wet shower floor when he can. I think it’s his vision causing this.

  12. Suzanne Brookman

    Have a Lhasa Apsa she is 9 years old and has just started this I have to pour her water on the floor for her to drink it and just started thinking her eye sight is getting bad and can not see the bowl good???

  13. My 12-year-old Maltese is also afraid of his water bowl and his water bottle. The only way he will drink is if I stand next to the bowl with my foot next to it or my hand touching the bowl. He will eat but he’s kind of skittish of that too. I have thought of everything you have said above. We have tried everything! This has been going on over a year now. He’s had these fears off and on but it seems like this past year has been really bad. Now he has decided that during the night he wants to sleep with his face right next to my face or my husband’s face and he used to love to sleep under the covers but he doesn’t want his head covered up anymore. He wants his head on the pillow touching my face. He also wakes up all throughout the night barking because he wants to get a drink but I must be standing touching the bowl for him to drink. It is really driving me crazy and interrupting our sleep so much that it is upsetting me!!!

    1. Hi Sue,

      That’s a pretty late onset for this sort of thing. I’d have him thoroughly vetted. Blood work, xrays, detailed dental etc. If it’s not physical it likely is a relationship based problem. If he’ll drink with you touching the bowl then it’s possible that bit by bit he’s become manipulative and you receptive to his machinations.


      1. Leean Birmingham

        Is there any more info on this, dog afraid of drinking, my lab too has been doing this for a long time it’s sad and pitiful. And yes he has issues.

        1. Hi Leean,

          This is it so far. However the comments, some with input/suggestions grows weekly. The more video I get sent the greater the likelihood I’ll see some pattern that we’re missing.


        2. Desiree Steele

          My 8 year old Yorkie Just suddenly started this behavior after a grooming session at a new place!! I’m suspecting maybe has something to do with her inner ear ….. not sure if this theory but will flush her ears with colloidal silver and see if it makes a difference… anti anxiety remedies have not worked

  14. Maria Kuczer

    My 3 year old rescue has become afraid to drink from her metal raised bowl. Vet said could be her reflection. Suggested seeing a behaviorist. I can’t afford that. She eats from the same type of metal bowl right next to it even when her tag hits it. She has always be a anxious dog. Afraid of other things (Fireworks, storms, quick movements, noises). I have tried different bowls outside and inside. She will drink from the floor and my hand and puddles. But needs coaxing each time to come and drink. I’ve tried milk in the water and chicken broth but sometimes she drinks it and sometimes she doesn’t. Vet said not to let her drink from my hand. I’m so afraid of her becoming dehydrated. It’s been a week and so far physical came back fine. May do blood work. Vet doesn’t think meds will help. Any help you can provide is appreciated.

  15. My dog will drink out of the bowl part for water and won’t eat or even touch the food I get really worried because she goes around eating the cats drive and canned food.
    We have tried everything wet,canned,dry but none will she eat.

    1. This isn’t that uncommon. Cat food is often more palatable to dogs then their own food apparently because the protein content is significantly higher. The protein quality is often higher as well. Separate feeding times or separate feeding areas where the dog can’t access the cat’s food (up higher) may help. It may take as much as 4 days of stubbornly missing served meals before your dog caves and goes back to it’s own food. I would also check the quality of the food. Send me the brand name and a picture of the list of ingredients and I’ll offer an opinion.



    Dear John: This summer, I started to give my Lab water in a metal bowl from the outside hose. He drinks it up in a sec. Now he will not drink from in house metal bowl . Comes,the winter and I won’t have access to the outside hose. I am afraid he will not drink at all.What to do?

    1. Is he healthy? How old is he? Has he been playing catch the water coming from the hose? If he’s old enough to rigorously exercise do so then take him to his water bowl in the home and video what happens and send to me. If he drinks stop worrying.



    Dear John: Thanx for your reply. My rescue Lab is now about 6/7 yrs and I have had him for about 51/2 yrs. He is healthy but is very, very lazy & a couch potato. He was bred to be a hunter but did not want to hunt as the breeder did not want his lazy genes mixed with his hunting dogs and make them lazy so he put him in the shelter; I got him the very same day. From day one my Lab “Sonny” never jumped, kissed or cuddled. He just lolls around. When I take him to the dog park, he lays on the cement while all the other dogs are frolocking. A friend suggested I take the outside water bowl and fill it with the hose water but bring it into the house. I did this and “Sonny” followed me into the house but would not drink from the raised metal ‘hose’ water bowl. When I went out to get this water, I fell down and twisted my right knee and could not walk….”Sonny” has now stopped eating his reg. food too. It has been three days, no food, no water and I am on a walker laid up. Now I am really worried. ….Adele

    1. It’s unlikely he’s not drinking for three days. He’d be near death. Food possibly. Either way take him to the vets. It’s possible he’s drinking somewhere (toilet maybe). When you take him to the vet – mention his life long lethargy and get some blood work. Thyroid may be off.



    Thanx John for your reply. When I saw how lazy he was, I did take him to the vet and checked his thyroid which turned out just fine. All in all, he is very healthy and used to gobble his food. Now that I am laid up, he is not eating nor drinking nor does he have access to the toilet. Thank you for your insight. …Adele

  19. Donna Everhart

    Well. I’m glad I’m not the only one with a quirky eater/drinker. We adopted our small Yorkie when he was three, back in Dec 2012. When we first got him, he ate/drank – no problem. He will be six in Nov, and for the past 1.5 to 2 years, he’s become nervous about eating, more so with the drinking. Like many of the others above, he approaches his water bowl, same one he’s had all along, (color is pale cream/with little black bone designs) and growls or barks at it, and I have to “encourage” him by saying, “noooo, drink your water. Drink your water.” Bark. Bark. Bark. RRRRR. RRRRR. “Noooo, drink your water, that’s GOOD water!” Like the others, if I approach his bowl and act like I’m going to fill it up more, he’ll drink a few laps. Sometimes I just tell him to drink, and eventually he will. I’ve tried ignoring this, and he’ll give up and not drink at all, and I KNOW he’s thirsty. Even if I’m not in the house, i.e. if I’m outside, I can hear him barking at it. My husband’s conclusion – he’s not doing it to get attention, he’s truly thirsty, and he wants it, but…

    The food is weird too. He’s better about that than the water. I had to sort of “re-train” him to get him to eat. I put one piece of kibble down at a time, and then he “circles” me while I sit on the floor. More than one piece? He won’t eat. It’s like it screws his little head up.

    Since he was “normal” when we got him, I have tried to figure out what went wrong and where. I fed him a homemade diet and he at that off a plate. To be honest, I think his first trip with us (a long 13 hour ride) back a couple years ago was the turning point. Getting him to eat in that strange environment where the noise level was much higher (my in-laws house – they are old and talk loud and have the TV loud, etc) might have been the trigger.

    Somehow, we’re getting by.

  20. It’s really funny my dog that is 12 yrs old started not drinking water out of her bowl. My wife bought gravity feed water bowl so we never noticed she wasn’t drinking water. Then she started whining every night 2 to 3 times in the middle of the night to go outside. At first we thought she needed to go to the bathroom but after awhile I’ve noticed the dog licking the water off the grass. So we thought maybe it was due to the gravity feed water bowl so we went back to the metal bowl but she still refuses to drink. So now I have to put water on a plate or out of my hand even off the floor she will drink but not out of bowl.

  21. My 8 year old dog (Eski-poo) stopped wanting to eat and drink from his bowls a couple of years ago. Two issues I thought had happened: 1) he had some bad teeth and has since had them removed. 2) Last winter when drinking from his metal bowl I think he got a “shock”. Not sure if either one of these has caused a food/water bowl phobia. He will drink from the lake, or any outdoor bowl, or if I lift the bowl to his face. Otherwise he starts to drink/eat and then runs away like he’s been shocked or scared by something… I wish I knew 🙁

  22. My 8 year old dog (Eski-poo) stopped wanting to eat and drink from his bowls a couple of years ago. Two issues I thought had happened: 1) he had some bad teeth and has since had them removed. 2) Last winter when drinking from his metal bowl I think he got a “shock”. Not sure if either one of these has caused a food/water bowl phobia. He will drink from the lake, or any outdoor bowl. He will drink non-stop when I lift the bowl to his face. Otherwise when he starts to drink/eat at his normal bowl he runs away like he’s been shocked or scared by something… I wish I knew 🙁

  23. Jackson

    My dog Blanket is a 8 year old chihuahua terrier mix I adopted from an unknown but clearly abusive life 5 years ago. He has always been afraid of bowls, but it has usually resulted in him waiting a long time to eat or drink and then finally getting the courage to nervously do so.

    Over the summer, our cat, who had been his companion the whole time I’ve had him, passed away, then we welcomed two new cats into our home, the head to get most of his teeth extracted due to bad and worsening oral health that has been an ongoing problem.

    Somewhere in the midst of those changes, he switched from being able to work up the courage to eat and drink on his own eventually to not. Instead, he will bark at us until we hold the bowl at a specific tilted angle and even then he will only sometimes drink. We changed the food/water locations many times, but it has not helped. Sometimes if we put the water in the middle of the bedroom doorway he will drink on his own but obviously that is not a practical place to put it since we keep stepping in the bowl or slipping on the water around it.

    His food we were able to manage by putting it in a large silicone bowl and placing the bowl outside when we put him out there (bringing it in when he comes inside so slugs don’t get in the bowl). We have not tried this with the water but I know that he can sometimes find areas in the backyard where there are little bits of water. We also don’t have a sillicone bowl for the water because I got the other one years ago and have had trouble finding a second.

    It has gotten to the point where he spends half the night barking at us to let him in and out or to hold the water bowl so he can drink. We live in an apartment so letting him bark is not an option.

    I’m also having trouble determining whether it is a factor of either of the changes in cats or the fact that the cats (try as I might to stop them) eat his food and drink his water, or a factor of pain related to the now two month old tooth extractions or if it is a maladjustment to having no teeth or something else, since it started in the midst of a lot of big changes.

    I should also mention that I have spoken with the vet about this a little less than a month ago and we decided to put him on some herbal anxiety treats (composure) that we give a couple times a day. Haven’t noticed any changes and if anything he is continuing to get worse at the same pace. Yesterday I also went to brush his teeth for the first time since surgery and noticed his gums were bleeding BEFORE I actually put the toothbrush in his mouth. Made me wonder if he is having pain related to the extractions and wondered if dogs can get dry socket or anything like that, as I know my partner’s dry socket took a long time to recover after he got 3 teeth pulled at once in the spring.

    1. 12 1/2 yr schnauzer, same issues with food & water. Never an issue until about 2yrs ago. 1yr ago I bought Calm & Peaceful + Senior Formula from Kingdom of Basil & started her on 100mg Sam-E. She has some moments of anxiety but only last a few minutes. I also covered her water bowl with plastic table cloth. She drinks now where she would not at all before. Some days she won’t eat off her glass plate, maybe 1x per week, but if I throw the food to her on the floor she eats. Since the product from Kingdom of Basil it is very tolerable. I will never abandon her, she is everything to me. Hope this might help you some!! Also after giving her the Sam-E & herbs we had a thunder storm, usually she is terrified for hours, she didn’t react at all, I almost fainted. Godd luck!!

  24. Jeanine

    I have an 11 yr old Chihuahua that I adopted from a rescue 7 yrs ago. He would never drink out of his water bowl. I assumed it was became he didn’t like having the water splash on him. I put water in his food, so he gets plenty of it that way. He also will not eat out of a bowl, so the moistened food I have to hand feed him. I bought a hamster water bottle and finally he will drink water out of that. He’s smart, he let’s me know when he’s thirsty. I wonder if as a puppy he may have used a water bottle in the cage, I’m thinking one of those Amish puppy mills.

  25. Katherine Nicolson


    I just reading all the above comments and it seems that I am experiencing the exact same issue with my 4 year old Chihuahua. He will only eat his food if it’s put on the floor. In fact if the food is left on a plate he will run over to us and start jumping up and down to grab our attention and for us to follow him to the plate. When I first got him he had a little bowl and would eat out of this then all of a sudden one day he was too scared to eat out of his bowl. We then started using small saucers and however he ended up running away from it. Another recent development is that he won’t drink out of his water bowl unless one of us stands next to it!!!! It’s absolutely ridiculous but he needs to eat and drink being a small dog. He has always been quite a timid dog; for example he won’t walk down certain roads, and will refuse to walk past certain large breeds. Can’t afford to pay for advice but if you still looking into hypotheses I’m happy to send a video to demonstrate this behaviour

    1. Yes please send video. I’ve had a few sent to me so far. If enough people send enough video we may collectively figure out this puzzling problem so I can provide some guidance.


  26. ed allen

    I wanted to volunteer that our 8-year old black lab suffers from this issue. I am convinced of the cause if not a major contributing factor. Originally his stainless steel bowls were on a wrought iron stand and I twice observed where his dog tags got caught in the stand and when he backed off, the stand followed, and when he then freaked out, the bowls and stand went flying halfway across the kitchen. We remove his collar in the house now, and switched to ceramic crock bowls on the floor but he hasn’t forgotten the haunted feeding station incidents.

    1. Thanks for the input. Every little bit helps. Is your dog sensitive by nature? Does he suffer from separation anxiety and/or is particularly clingy. Afraid of thunderstorms, fireworks or other loud over head sounds?


      1. Wendy Mowry

        Not sure if this helps, but we actually observed the day our Maltipom developed a fear of his food and water dish. While he was eating, he got a shock from static. He was using a metal bowl in a iron holder. We laughed and really didn’t think anything of it, because our house tends to be dry in the winter and his fur was long and had a lot of static at the time. But when it happened a few more times he would bark at his bowls and became reluctant to eat. So I put his food and water in ceramic bowls, thinking That if he didn’t get a shock he would be fine. That helped a bit, but he was still very skittish. So then I tried clear glass bowls, and plates. I even started removing his collar, thinking he was afraid of the noise. So after reading what you said about anxiety and fear of fireworks, it makes sense. So I will just continue coax him along.

  27. My 10 year old Shih Tzu has been refusing to drink from a bowl for as long as I can remember. We have a stand alone shower where he goes and stands until someone pours water out of a glass for him. He’s not fond of eating out of bowls either but he will. He prefers to take his food out of the bowl and put it on the floor then eat it off the floor. I’ve had him since he was 2 months old and he’s always done this.

    I’m fine with the way my dog is. I just wanted to add his story.

  28. Marichu D.

    I thought I was the only one having this problem, every time I ask my vet, they seem puzzled. I have a 4 month old pitbull terrier mix…she just recently started to be afraid of eating out of her bowl. I’ve been spoon feeding her for the past 3 days now. People say to just leave the food there and she’ll eventually eat, but I tried that, and she ended up not eating the whole day. I’ve been using a plate to feed her from, since I noticed that being close to her bowl scares her. I thought she might’ve been scared seeing her reflection in her stainless steel bowl, so I bought her a plastic one, but she’s still afraid. She’s also been more nervous than usual and barks and cries through the night, which she’s never done before unless she has to use the restroom. I really hope you can give me some type of advice. Thank you

  29. My dachshund has been doing the same thing mentioned by others. Afraid of water and food bowls. We feed him wet food from a plate on the floor and he eats no problem. We tried the same trick with water, but no luck. So we tried putting a small amount of organic no-salt chicken broth into his water and he lapped up the whole bowl. Might be worth a try.

  30. David Jung

    From all the various comments it seems to me that majority of the dogs posted about here are all rescue dogs. Now from what I can tell is that they’ve been abused regardless of scars or not. Remember that scars are just an indication of abuse so anything mildly subtle like a bruise under the fur is likely to go unnoticed by the rescue. It is likely the previous owner has hit the dog with the bowl or a similar feeding object. To see if this is the case empty the bowl and while near the dog drop the bowl next to them and see their reaction. You have to watch the reaction extremely carefully, if they’re reaction is immediate (before the bowl has a chance to reach the floor) or if they instantly run the opposite direction to hide, then that is could be a sign of abuse or sheer negligence of a prior owner. Since these things could happen by accident, don’t make immediate assumptions of abuse. You can also ask your family members if they’ve recently dropted the bowl on the dog recently.

    If being struck by the bowl was not the case, and you believe it is due to cataracts, try an elevated dog feeder. There are plenty on Amazon. Get one that goes about next to lower jaw level so that dog is staring at the bowl at an angle so he doesn’t look straight down and get scared from tunnel visioning.

    Other things you can try are a “U” shaped bowl like the ones used in pig stys. You can also try forced starvation (though it is not recommended), by starving the dog for 24 hours where by the end of the day the dog will eat or drink pretty much from anything or anywhere. The method is usually used for dogs who’ve turned picky due to their owners giving them house food.

    Hopefully this helps the majority, and lastly don’t expect any immediate changes always give a week or two to settle in before moving to a different solution. Dogs take time and patience.

    *PS* it says, “Ask the Dog Gut Newsletter”. Don’t think that was intentional.

    1. Hi—just wanted to let you know that my dog, not a rescue, just started not eating out of her bowl. She’s 8. Timid, but not too anxious. She’ll drink, but not eat. The bowls are slightly elevated. And, they are mismatched. I broke one of the original from the set and replaced it with a small “human” bowl—years ago. She gets a mix of lean meat and kibble and will not eat. She’ll bark until I place it on the floor.

  31. christine

    I have a very healthy 4 year old golden…..who has eaten out of the same bowl for the 4 years Ive had her….just recently we lost our other dog whom she knew since birth….but still, eating was fine….we recently brought home a new puppy…she was definitely a little aloof at first but has accepted the new puppy just fine…..its been 3 weeks since we’ve had the pup…and eating has been fine..until 3 days ago…..cowering away from the same bowl…same food…I tried changing food and she will only eat out of my hand….which is literally in the bowl…..she hasn’t had an ounce of anxiety since we’ve had her…this is totally new…..Im not sure she’s had any water either!!! like you said, I sort of have the mindset….she knows where it is, so when she’s dying of thirst she will get water!!! but its so frustrating and worrisome at the same time!

    1. Hi Christine,

      You may have noticed on this thread it’s mostly tiny dogs. I suspect there’s something different going on in your dog’s case. Perhaps a sensitive tooth. Get it checked out at the vets.


    2. Holly A Obrien-West

      That sounds very similar to what we are experiencing with our medium sized dog. I posted our story up above but also wanted to respond to you. We haven’t had a lot of life changes except for our dog getting sick a couple weeks ago. Ever since getting sick she refuses to eat or drink out of bowls and has become rather skittish about sudden noise.. Prior to this she was always happy to eat and drink from her bowls and had absolutely no issues with any type of anxiety and no fear of noise. I have to hide liquid in with her food on a flat plate and literally stand there and encourage her to eat and even then she looks scared. Such a total change from her normal behavior. All blood work at the vet came back normal

  32. Hi there. My 14 year old Bichon’s has been scared of her water and food bowl for the last several months. She has been an anxious dog all her life ( we got her when she was 13 weeks) but now she is the most anxious I have seen her. She jumps up every few minutes like something scared her and she doesn’t drink or eat much unless I spend much time coaxing her to do so. I took her to the vet a couple of weeks ago and everything is good from the blood work except she was slightly dehydrated. I feel so bad for her and wish she would go back to eating from her bowls. The best she drinks is if I fill her waterbowl up to the tippy top and she might get 3-4 licks before she jumps back in fright. She doesn’t eat well because of her anxiety either. She takes a quick bite and runs and then walks back slowly and eventually takes another quick bite . She is very slim and vet said she is very slim and doesn’t need to lose anymore weight. So sad have you been able to come up with any possible solutions since last year?

  33. So I have a 5 pound chihuahua, she is 3-4 years old. She has always been kind of scared of the water bowl but she would drink out of it just very cautiously and only a few laps at a time. We went away for a few days and when we got back she was not eating or drinking from the bowls. I had to hand feed her, she od now eating. But she will jot drink water from her bowl I even changes bowls. She will drink water from a cup though, so this is how I have been giving her water. It doesn’t matter the size or shape of the cup she will drink it up. She will also drink rain water and eat snow outside. I’m not sure what to do?

  34. Good evening John,

    I came across this thread looking for answers why my 6 month pug puppy just started barking at his bowl. We got him a new elevated water and food set up. He started barking at the food bowl. The water bowl is exactly the same as the food bowl and he has no problem with drinking the water. It is a slightly larger bowl than his previous one. I put his food back in his old one (he never once barked at this one) and he started barking at that one too. He hasn’t eaten too much today so I eventually put it on the floor and he ate it right up. At first I thought it might be the new bowl but since he wouldn’t eat out of his old one, I’m not sure now. Will upload video of him doing it next time. Any advice is appreciated. Thanks!!

  35. I have a 10 year old terrier mix that we adopted back in September, 2015. He was a stray so not sure what he was up against in his ‘previous life’. He has pretty severe separation anxiety to the point that he hasn’t been left alone since we adopted him. We hired a behaviorist to help us with his anxiety and was making good progress. But now, he won’t eat.

    He used to eat and drink no problem – we would feed him 1 cup of mixed wet and dry food with his arthritis medicine mixed in in the morning and night. He would eat it up, no problem, would even sit and wait for it patiently as we got it ready.

    We had to leave him for 2 weeks to visit family across the country. He was with another smaller dog that he has met before, but when we came back, his food issues sprung up.

    We can’t get him to eat. It’s been like this for 2 months, and has gradually gotten worse. At first, it would take a couple tries to get him to eat out of his bowl, then he refused. We moved to a plate, and same thing, would eat off that a day or two and then refused. Over time, we’ve moved to hand feeding. Now – he won’t even eat out of our hand. He’s shaking the whole time and cowering in the corner whenever we bring the food near him.

    We’ve been to the vet, done blood tests, and the only thing we’ve found is his thyroid wasn’t working right, so he’s now on thyroid medication. Other than that, he’s as healthy as he can be (after 4 repeat blood tests per the vet).

    We’re at a loss as to what to do!

    1. I’d like to see some video. I’d like to help however while the description of the behaviour is in keeping with the experience of many others with regards to eating and sometimes drinking the time lines don’t make sense. A dog that refuses to eat or drink simply dies and these dogs are obviously not dead. In fact in the images I’m sent they don’t look even underweight. I’d like to know more about the times they do eat or drink. It might provide some clues.


  36. Linda Claxson

    I have a 9 year old Shih Tzu bitch that simply will not drink water from a bowl of any kind. She drinks water from puddles and literally searches for it whenever she goes outside but will not touch it in a bowl. We have tried big bowls, small bowls, deep bowls, shallow bowls and every type of material imaginable – nada! Funny thing is she will eat out her bowl. We’ve always just accepted this and done what we can to make sure water is available outside (we make puddles) as well as inside but she is now on crate rest for a slipped disc so we’re worried we won’t be able to get her to drink. I keep putting water bowls in her crate but immediately tips them over to make noise to get attention as she hates the crate. I don’t know what to do. We cannot leave her outside to find water as she’s not allowed to walk and with her being on medication I need to know she has access to water 🙁 I really do not know what her issue is with bowls but I would appreciate any suggestions. Thanks

  37. Patricia

    This is amazing to find, my poodle/terrier mix has recently started doing the water dish he goes to take a drink and gets a little then jumps back it takes him forever to get a drink often he will come get me to go to the water dish with him. He has just had his dental so I know his teeth are good he does have a cataract which we were blaming that. He hasn’t ate off a dish in sometime his tags scared him we removed collar but he still eats off a mat or the floor. It is a comfort to know others are going through this. He is a rescue has been with us 5 years he is 11 years old. (as far as we know Vet said he was 6 when he came to us. He was from a hoarder bust so he had many issues this is just one more to deal with I am just hoping to learn how to help him.

  38. Patricia

    This is amazing to find, my poodle/terrier mix has recently started doing the water dish he goes to take a drink and gets a little then jumps back it takes him forever to get a drink often he will come get me to go to the water dish with him. He has just had his dental so I know his teeth are good he does have a cataract which we were blaming that. He hasn’t ate off a dish in sometime his tags scared him we removed collar but he still eats off a mat or the floor. It is a comfort to know others are going through this. He is a rescue has been with us 5 years he is 11 years old. (as far as we know Vet said he was 6 when he came to us.) He was from a hoarder bust so he had many issues this is just one more to deal with I am just hoping to learn how to help him.

  39. Danielle

    My almost 4 year old Cockapoo will not drink out of his water bowl anymore. He used to drink out of the same bowl with no problems. Now I have to literally pick him up and put him in front of it, he’ll take a couple laps and then cower and literallyfreeze, sinking to the ground with his tail between his legs. He’ll try to back away and I’ll have to pick him up, reposition him and start again. He’s clearly thirsty!!!! As for food, we had moved to feeding him on a paper plate but now even that has started to go downhill. Same situation. Pick him up and put him in front of it. It’s a long process. He’s otherwise healthy. Just neurotic about something it seems!! He not really skittish otherwise either! I know he’s not consuming enough water and its stressing me out!

  40. Laura Csrtwright

    I’ve recently adopted a 6 year old standard poodle with eating issues. She’s skittish anyway but oddly not afraid of thunder or lightning. We have a wrought iron feedin stand with stainless bowls and she’ll during water just fine but is incredibly reluctant to eat out of the bowl. She just stands there looking at the food. I can coax her into eating some, but she’ll stop after a few bites and back away, looking at the food. If I stick my hand in and give her the same food by hand, she’ll eat it. We’ve taken the stand away and put nonskid bowls down instead. Again, she’ll drink but eat very little. Just stares at it and eventually walks away. She’s under weight and I’ve not managed to add any weight in the 6 weeks I’ve had her.

  41. Hi,
    I don’t have much to add, but I am so glad my dog is not the only one with this issue. He is a 2.5 year old Malti-poo who up until last week would gobble up his food in 1 minute as soon as I put it down. Now he won’t go to his food unless I am holding the bowl and dumping a few pieces at a time onto the floor for him. Before, I would have been hesitant to even put my hand near his bowl while he was scarfing down his food – now it is the only way he will eat! If I just put it down in his bowl or a flat plate, he stands in front of it growling and shaking, like he wants it but is afraid of it?! He is a fearful dog – sensitive to noises, thunder, fireworks and pops and booms are the worst but very friendly with most other dogs and people. Not sure what to do, so far water is ok but I am worried that will be an issue as well. He did get over his fear of walks (which took about 6 months, and fear of walking on wood floors – yes, this was real) but the food thing seems even more troublesome to me. He has been on a calming supplement from the pet store (a natural type with herbs) for the last few months, which seems to have helped somewhat with his other fears (at least the walks and wood floors) but now this! Will it get worse – will it go away?! It seems to have happened overnight. Worried about my little guy!

  42. Our 10 year old Yorkie started refusing to eat out of her bowl 8 months problem just put her dry food on the floor. Suddenly she acts afraid of her water bowl and we are trying all of the things mentioned in messages above. She will drink when we hold a small bowl or a glass at eye level…I am wondering since she needs water to stay alive if this could be an act for attention? We both work and don’t know what she does while we are gone… Our plan is to take her to the vet for a checkup as soon as we can afford it in a few weeks! We love her and don’t want her to be afraid!!

  43. I have a chi mix who is 3, and has had bowl/plate issues since we got her. She was about 12 weeks old from a pet store. She was with other puppies bigger than her and she wasn’t as assertive as the others. We figured they always beat her to the food bowl so she learned to stay away or else get beat up. She does drink water out of the water bowls however. Food? Most of the time, we become impatient and just hand feed her. Although if really hungry, she will eat ONLY carrot pieces off of a plate..and will growl if any other animal tries to get near her. (Only carrots on a plate – nothing else will she go near). Hand fed, she loves her kibble, meat, a variety of veggies and some fruits. She also watches tv, barks at cats and dogs (only) on the tv.

  44. Lesley Corriveau

    I have an 8 year old Chihuahua and for the past year he goes to his water bowl takes one lick and whines. He won’t drink unless I am petting him and will stop if I stop petting him. He will whine all day long. I go to pick him up to take him to his water bowl and he shows resistance but drinks as soon as I pet him. He eats the snow and drinks the water out of the puddles. He also goes to his food dish takes a little and then runs, then repeats.

  45. Rachel Steele

    Hi there!
    So glad to read this post but sad there are still no answers. We have a 2 year old lab mix who ate out of bowls fine when we got him a year ago (he was near starved) then got sick from eating something bad outside, during that time he stopped eating and drinking so I ended up hand feeding him. Since then he has been indifferent to food except when I hand feed him. He will lick food off a spoon with gusto but completely ignore his bowl. He won’t even approach his food bowl when we first put it down, he refuses to come eat, only later will he eat some food but typically he pulls it out of the bowl to eat off the floor. This is a lab we are talking about here! Who runs several miles a day and doesn’t seem anxious as a rule (he is super friendly and confident) I sure do hope we can get insight! Happy to send a video.


  46. Elizabeth

    We have a Saint Bernard, 8 years old. We got Benny when he was a puppy. He never had problems to eat in his stainless steal bowl on an iron stand. A couple o moths ago he started refusing to eat. We tought was because we were given him too much treats. We decide to stop the treats and only offer him the food. He ate a few bites and stop. After two days we were very concern because he start to get weak and with a hard time to get up. My husband decided to try to give the food on his hand and he ate a lot. My husband try to put the bowl on the floor and Benny got scared and didn’t get close. Looks like he is afraid of his food bowl. His water bowl is made of the same material, but he is not scared of drinking water from that. Benny has a dog door and he can go out to the fenced backyard any time. I don’t know if a animal got inside the house to eat his food and scared him. Do you have a suggestion?

  47. Catherine Friedman

    Really glad I did this search. I have a 13 y/o mutt of some sort who is avoiding water, it is all I can do to get her to drink and I am concerned that she only drinks if i am with her. That said she will drink out of any old nasty water hole outside and even lick the pavement but fights drinking out of her bowl. She does have anxiety issues. Glad to hear she isn’t alone!

  48. I’ve got 4 small dogs (about 15-20lb each). One of them is a 9 1/2 year old 18lb male miniature schnauzer. He’s always been a finicky eater, and I have to remove his collar to keep the tags from jiggling on the stainless bowl. But he’s generally a happy confident dog, who is not the least bit fazed by fireworks or thunder.

    His fear of eating and drinking out of his bowls started about a week ago. We turned on the ceiling fan, as it was starting to get warm in the house, and I suspect he got frightened by the reflection of the moving fan blades. We’ve since turned off the fan.

    He comes to the mess area when I call the pack for mealtime, but he’s hesitant to eat or drink. At best he may take a couple of nibbles from his bowl, or he may eat a little from my hand. I’ve tried moving his food bowl to a different location, but that didn’t work.

    I may try feeding the pack at different location, perhaps on the deck during the summer. I may also try to find other bowls that don’t reflect as much.

  49. Jonathan

    My 10 year old fox terrier has the same issues. She will only drink water from her bowl if I put my hand on the edge. I suspect yet sight, but am not 100% sure. She won’t eat out of her food bowl either. I spill it on the carpet for her, and her water she will jump back several times like the water is boiling and then she will drink it off the carpet. I’ve tried numerous bowls, dishes, cups. She will drink out of a flower pot outside which has a dish under it, so I may try a home made pot on a dish with a hole and rim. I’ll upload a video later of her drinking…

  50. My 10 year beagle has kidney disease. He has vomited but hasn’t since Saturday 9/31. He was eating fine up to then. All of a sudden he has stopped eating. Still drinking water. I have two questions first could he be associating vomiting with food and second how can I get him to eat. I tried everything to get him to eat. He looks like he’s hungry but I really think he’s afraid to eat.

    1. Hi Marsha,

      He might associate the discomfort of vomiting with food and be hesitant but most dogs perceive vomiting as a hobby rather then an inconvenience. You should contact your veterinarian immediately as I suspect something else is afoot.


  51. Michelle W.

    We have an almost 2 year old rescue lab/golden mix with the same exact issue. Started her out with metal bowls. Since day 1 she very anxiously walks up to the bowl, grabs a mouthful, walks a few feet away, dumps the food on the ground and eats it there. Same with water. She will anxiously walk up to it, very carefully lean as far forward as she can (while leaving her back legs in the bent position – in case she needs to run, I guess) and drink quickly, then scamper away while looking at the water bowl from a distance. Since she has been in our care, she has never had a scary experience to cause this behavior, but she has always been anxious of new people (submissive urinating), and new things (like a newly delivered ups box sitting in the foyer). I had read that some people thought it might be the reflection in the metal water bowl, so we switched her to hard plastic. Nope. Same thing. She will GLADLY drink up rain water or water from the hose outside. So strange. I will try to get footage and send it in to you. Would love to know why she does this. No health issues associated, clean vet checkup, but it’s just strange! 🙂

      1. My 4 yr old Carolina dog who we rescued as a puppy has recently become afraid of his food bowl but not his water bowl. He eventually eats but it takes a little coaxing which is strange. Both bowls are on the same riser and both are metal. He also has become unsure of where he walks. A flooring transition between our living room and kitchen is now avoided.

        He has always been a little anxious and afraid of spoons, feet (we cannot put our feet near him) and water.

        We think he had a rough time before we got him but the sudden fear of his bowl is strange.

    1. Betty M

      My 9 yr old mini schnauzer acts almost the same way. I have to put his food next to his bed on a rug and he will stand in his bed and stretch to the food bowl to eat. Any kind of noise and he will stop eating for a few minutes. He has a good appetite. He suddenly stopped drinking water from his bowl. The vet insisted he was getting water somewhere when I told him there was no water available except his water bowl. He will lick water from our wood deck after a rain and also lick snow. He went from being friendly and sociable with visitors to being scared of them. He is terrified of any noise especially thunder. I got him @ 6 yrs old from a breeder where he was neglected and mistreated. He was used for breeding purposes only. He was fed raw chicken bones for his six yrs there and his front teeth were worn to his gums. I had them extracted and he can only chew with his back teeth. He loves to play outside and very active. But inside he walks with his tail and ears drooped and wants to stay close to me constantly.
      I am so happy I found this forum and know other dog owners have the same problem.

      1. Hi Betty,

        If you’ve gone through the other suggestions I’ve made, try placing his food and water on a non-conductive mat that is large enough for him to stand squarely on. In some cases, I’ve begun to think it has something to do with a similar problem in the livestock industry pertaining to stray voltage.

        – John Wade ( (Don’t forget! If you find that the many free resources on this site inform, save you time and, or money, Click the link to Buy Me A Few Coffees)

        1. Betty M

          I discovered where my dog was getting his water outside. When we built a deck, we put black plastic underneath it. The plastic held puddles of water from rain and snow from the deck. He was crawling under the deck and drinking. We pulled the plastic out and covered the area where he was digging to get underneath deck to drink. After pacing back and forth trying to get underneath the deck he finally gave in and drank water from a bowl I sit close to the deck. Later that day when I put his food close to his bed as usual, I also put a bowl of water and he drank from it. but that was a one-time thing, he drinks from his bowl outside though,

        2. Betty M

          I’m sorry but I tried buying you coffee and it wouldn’t accept my credit card and not sure why. I used my card for another purchase with no problem so not sure why it declined.

          1. Thanks Betty,

            Sorry for the delay getting back to you about this. You weren’t the only person that had difficulty buying me a coffee. I never did figure out why that was the case but it appears to be working now.


            John Wade (

            PS Don’t forget if you find that the many free resources I provide companion dog owners via Ask The Dog Guy website ( and elsewhere (YouTube, newsletter, etc.) inform, save you time and, or money why not buy me a coffee? Click the link to Buy Me A Few Coffees

  52. April Thompson

    My 2 year old american pbt is afraid to eat or drink from his bowls. He was fine as a puppy but as he got older it changed. I have noticed that sometimes if I sit in a chair next to his bowls he will eat a little. He eats just fine outside but still refuses to drink. He’d rather drink the collected rainwater off the ground than out of his bowls.

  53. Cristina

    I thought my dog was the only one. He is a maltese 9 years old and this started happening about a year ago. He doesn’t like eating from the bowl that he has had for about 7 years. I sometime put his food on the floor and he will eat from it but with fear. I have put it on a flat plate and he will eat but you can tell he is afraid. At first i thought it had something to do with the wall the bowl was next to because when i would move his bowl from the wall he would eat the food. But then he started doing the same thing. Then we moved his bowl on top of carpet and he ate it just a few times then he did it again. So im not sure what is going on. My kids also mentioned that if they were to move the food around with their finger he then was okay to eat it. What have you come out with as far as what it could be?

  54. I have two pugs from the same litter and have had them since they were puppies (they are six now). One is more anxious than the other. He struggled with fear of eating from the bowl for years. He would eventually eat from it, but it would take several minutes of him trying to get up the courage and then retreating in fear. It was painful to watch. He eats off of the floor with less hesitation. Interestingly, we were given the tip to add water to their dry dog food as it is supposed to be easier on the system. Since we started adding water, he digs right in! I hope this helps another furry friend. Good luck!

    1. My lab was just whining over her bowl and I walked up to her thinking it was empty and it was full. I sat down at our kitchen table and watched her and she ate all her food. I notice when she eats she looks up at a stainless trash can that is about a foot away. It could be the reflection that is throwing her off. Some days she seems more confident (hungry) than others. She has always eaten better if we are all at the table or I’m standing near her cooking. I guarantee if you put a little chicken broth or cooked ground beef on her dry food she would have no problem eating alone. I always thought labs were laid back but they can be pretty neurotic.

  55. Reply —
    I have the same problem with my 12 year old Shih-tzu. She is afraid to eat and drink from a plate/bowl of any material. We feed her straight on the floor. She even barks or growls at her water bowl. Sometimes she does get desperate and lap and then skit back. She will do that several times. Not sure what to make of it. She goes outside and will lap up rain puddles in a heart beat .I moved her from out stable home several times now. I have to put her food on the floor . I spend all night telling her to drink her water cause she just stands there stalking the bowl and growling her water bowl.

  56. Catherine Willis

    I’m floored by the amount of people with the same problem. I, like everyone else came on here looking for a solution for my 6 y.o. Maltese puppy mill rescue dog. I’ve had her for 6 months and it’s been a problem all along. Like someone commented earlier she has taken to waking me around 2am. I also thought she wanted to urinate but no, she prowls the yard looking for puddles while I stand bleary eyed in the doorway. It’s Australia! We have no puddles!

  57. I gave up and put mine down last weekend because if it teeth very expensive . I already went down that road. If it’s fear I can not protect her 24/7, she stopped sleeping with me scared of the bed. Last weekend when I took her out she was sniffing in the asphalt and looked up at me like she had no idea who I was. There would be days of not eating she had lost weight and was only an 8 lb Shitzu. In my mind she had to many issues for my wallet. In loving memory to my Ginger

  58. So glad to know I’m not the only one going through this, although it doesn’t make it any easier. I rescued my yorkie mix 2 yrs ago. Bought his food and water bowl the same day I brought him home. He ate and drank from them with no problem up until a few months ago. Now he’s afraid of them, and will very reluctantly grab a few pieces of food and then take off. Will not touch the water at all. Put a bowl of water outside, which luckily he will drink from. He will only eat his food if I dump it on the floor, or outside in the grass. Very frustrating for sure as I don’t know why this suddenly started after 2 yrs. He’s not anxious about anything else, fireworks and thunderstorms don’t bother him at all. Wish he could tell me 🙁

  59. Sadie is a 2 year old Jack Russell. I found her 8 months ago on Craigslist. She’s the perfect dog, smart, attentive, doesn’t bark much and easy to train and minds well. But she is scared to death of white bowls and plates. I can put her favorite food in a white bowl and she wont go near it. If I put it in her dog bowl or on the floor she eats immediately. Weird huh?

  60. Our 10-11 year old pug will not eat out of her raised bowl we tried to get her used to it tonight put she just let me hold her in my arms and did nothing but shake… i was wondering if you could give me any tips for this problem

  61. Robert Rogge

    I have an American bulldog mix a few weeks ago we took her to the vet for sedating to have her hips looked at she would up getting sick most likely kennel cough and now we’re having problems getting her to eat from her dog bowls we tried buying canned dog food wich she will eat seldom from a spoon but will not touch her food in the dog bowl we cooked up some chicken breast today which she ate no problem i dont want to resort to only human food any ideas

  62. Sherryy

    I almost didn’t google the subject of “tea cup dog afraid of eating and drinking out of bowl.” I thought it was too unique to my pet to be on here. Glad I did, While I don’t see any resolution, much to my surprise do see it’s very common and mainly small dogs, but some large? I thought it was the tin bowl, she was bullied by the other dog, she sees spirits, it was our recent move, she’s experiencing pain or she is old (11 yrs). My dog is a teacup (5lbs) female Pomeranian. She will drink and eat from my hand, drink from shower, tub, ground, almost anything but her bowl. On occasion I can tilt or hold her Bowl and she will lap a few sip and run away, perhaps return and lap a few and run. (Odd thing) She has the same behavior with food, (she has always carried food from her dish a short distance to devour it), but now she approaches it with a sense of fear. Wants to eat, attempts to approach it then runs. I’m thinking maybe my sons much younger(2 yrs) 5 lb Multipoo was intimidating her. Still not sure if this isn’t part of the problem. I just make sure I get some food in her daily. She is getting old and I want her to be healthy and don’t leave me for much more time. What have we figured out? Oh today I put water in a Dixie plate and I had to hold it at first, then she drank it all.

  63. Rob Benjamin

    Same problem with my 7-year old plus Yorkie. Until about 6 months ago, he shared both food and water bowls with our other dog, a 7-year old plus Chihuahua.

    Both are rescue dogs adopted the same day, and both get along well. Both are getting Royal Canin dry Yorkie mix for over a year. The Yorkie has always eaten food gingerly, grabbing one piece at a time, then jumping back to chew it before going back for another piece.

    Water had been less of problem, but now he won’t drink from the bowl unless it is full to the brim.

    We tried giving him food and water in smaller white ceramic bowls, and he has the same reaction.

    Re other issues, he has had severe skin allergies for the past few years and is on a daily dose of Apoquel. He eagerly awaits this since we wrap in in a pill pocket.

    He also eagerly eats ANY dog treat we give him and goes crazy when he thinks he may get a pizza crust.

    My grand-daughter will sometimes take food from his bowl and scatter it on the floor. He eagerly eats it when she does this, and will sometimes do the same if I do it.

    As others have mentioned, even though we pull him back in as soon as we see it, when he goes into our backyard, he immediately drinks from whatever standing water he can find. I can video all of these behaviors, but would like to know what a video would show that all these descriptions are not telling.

    1. My two year old is has stopped playing, barks at any noise. He jumped out of my arms three months ago in our workshop,now he will not even go in the workshop. He is still very loving and smart, is there anything I can do to help him be happy again?
      Thank you, Barbara

      1. I’m afraid I don’t understand. Is this related to this thread? If not, post it in a more appropriate thread. Either way, I’m unsure as to how I might respond. Did he injure himself when he jumped? Is that why you think he has stopped playing and is edgy? I’d take him to the vets but tell them he took a fall from a considerable height and hasn’t been himself since.

        John ‘Ask the Dog Guy’ Wade

  64. Kelly Thompson

    I found this site trying to figure out why my dog was afraid of his bowl. (He is a bloodhound mix). After I read some of the above issues I remembered something had once fallen off the counter into his food dish. We started feeding him away from the counter and “Voila” he ate out of his bowl no problem. Whenever we forget and give him water or food near the kitchen counter he takes a bite/sip and backs away from the bowl. He’ll move too and from the bowl. Whem we move the bowl away and he’s fine. So think about if there is something that may have spooked your dog.

  65. My parents 5 year old Boston just started doing this. If my dad puts the bowl on the living room floor and lays down next to I’m the bowl she will stretch out and still pull away but she will drink

  66. Mary Molly

    My last Mini Schnauzer had this problem. She uses a Stainless steel bowl. I found that when I switched to a plate she was fine. When I got my next Mini Schnauzer I was surprised that at 7 mths she started having the same problem. She is a confident dog with NO other fears. But I do know what is causing the problem. As she goes to reach for her food, her metal tag clinks the bowl right when she is about to grab a kibble. She is disturbed that her food is clinking at her. She manages to grab one piece and pulls it away from the bowl to eat it. She wants so bad to eat but is afraid it will clink at her. So the answer is to feed your dog without her collar….remove the tags….or feed her on a plate. Problem solved!

  67. Starlene Dunn

    Our little dog is scared of her food ( not sure about water as she rarely drinks) and there is no tag, no noise. I am amazed there are so many dogs with this problem and no one seems to know why. We have tried everything, and have an appointment with a pet psychic next week.

    1. Hi Starlene,

      I won’t dismiss anything yet, however every pet psychic I’ve ever encountered has been a fraud. Let me know if he or she comes up with anything interesting though.


  68. Barbara

    So glad to know I am not the only one experiencing this weirdness. Mr Darcy has been without these anxieties for 5 years. He is a bichon/poodle mix. He remains a happy eater, but two weeks ago, freaked out at his water bowl, and it has been a struggle ever since.

  69. I rescued my mixed terrier from the street 10 years ago. Just recently he is terrified of his food dish and will not eat from it. He drinks water from dish right next to food. He was just at the vet for regular annual visit, and had full bloodwork done and is fine. He will eat from floor so it is not the food. He will go without food for many days (well over 5-6), or more . I cannot keep going through this, I love him dearly, (he is also my service animal), & a visiting therapy dog. I simply do not know what to do anymore as I have tried several different bowls, even paper ones. Hev will not even eat hot dogs, lunchmeat or anything else out of any dish, only his water. Please, any suggestions? My vet does not know why., but he cannot just starve himself to death, so what can I do?

    1. Did they veterinarian check his throat? Someone posted a comment a while ago about discovering a throat irritation that meant that when the dog swallowed it hurt which some dogs might associate with their food.


  70. Jessica

    My 6 year old Golden Retriever has been acting like this for a few weeks. I know why– he had tonsillitis. His sore throat made it uncomfortable to eat, and he decided it was the bowl that was the culprit of his pain! Now he won’t eat or drink anything from a bowl. (I have tried 3 different dishes of different shapes, and different types of food, and changing the water so it’s fresh each day…) He drinks out of the toilet now and will only eat out of my hand. I’m tired of that, so I’m just leaving his food bowl out and hoping he’ll get over it and eat at some point. Never been a bad eater until now, so I think he will get hungry enough and decide it’s OK.

      1. Jessica

        I took him to the vet because he wouldn’t eat, and the vet noticed the swollen tonsils. After a couple weeks of antibiotics, he ended up having a tonsillectomy. He’s still afraid of his bowls, still drinking out of the toilet!

  71. Jonathan William Shantz

    My 12 year old chihuahua does the same thing and I’ve spent hours studying this sudden fear. Some things I’ve taken into consideration is my dog may see his reflection in the water dish. Also he may see his shadows (ears) on the floor or wall. So couple things I’ve tried… I’ll sit with him while he eats or drinks and it seems to work. Also, I’ve bought black bowls and dishes to limit his reflections and have put them in a darker area of the house where little shadows can be casted. Seems to work, but I also think he just likes me on the floor now with him while he eats. Try it

  72. My Cooper went blind 2 years ago and became scared of bowls. He won’t drink at all. We got a plate for food and add water to the food, but now he is getting scared of the plate. It takes a lot of coaxing to get him to eat. He’s clearly hungry and it makes me very frustrated.

  73. sara pendleton

    Hi John. I have a 15yr old lab who has dementia and he barks at his water bowl until i scoop it up into his mouth and eventually he will drink this is n9t a problem except at 3am when he does it until i wake and neighbours are complaining any ideas how i can ease this for him? Thanks

    1. my little terrier had dementia and I had to syringe water into her mouth. Careful not to drown them though, little bits at a time. She didn’t know how to lap any more. Otherwise she was eating and walking and happy enough.

  74. This started out of the blue with my 2 year old Pomeranian. About a week ago and it’s getting gradually worse. He won’t go up to the bowl – just ignores it. (Food, not water). Then I would slide the bowl quietly over to him and he would eat everything. Tonight that didn’t work, so we put it on a plate. I don’t mind putting his food on the floor but I hate to think of him experiencing such anxiety. He is pretty hyper, though not fearful of anything else. I just figured he was a Pom so of course he was hyper! But it’s clearly more than that – I’ll take him to the vet and have his tonsils checked and let you know.
    – Louise

  75. Carol Ann Rowland

    I have had my 3 year old beagle for a bit over 2 years. He has been afraid of water throughout – won’t walk past the bathroom if he can avoid it, and was nervous about approaching his water dish and we’ve noticed lately that he has his neck stretched/extended to an extreme, so that he could drink with his body as far from the water as possible.

    Today he started just whining and not drinking. It went on for hours before I figured out what was wrong. I managed to finally coax him and have him drink, with support.

    He also is often afraid of his food dish but that he eventually gives in for. Sometimes it helps if I take one piece of food and take it out of the dish and hand it to him. If I can get him to eat one morsel then sometimes he will feel able to continue, with caution at first.

    A friend of mine has suggested getting a water bottle like what they use for guinea pigs and see if he’ll drink from that. I don’t know why he is getting worse now.

  76. Wow… and I thought I was the only one! We rescued our cute little Havanese six years ago, and just this year she became deathly afraid of her food bowl. At the time we were using the kind of bowls that sit in a stand. Since she would still drink from the water bowl, I tried switching them around, but no luck. I also tried moving the stand to different locations. She eats dry dog food, and she would only eat pieces that had been dropped on the floor. I had to start feeding her by hand, which means that if I’m not home she doesn’t eat.
    About 5 months in we bought a new stand with bright new bowls, and for a few weeks she ate heartily and enthusiastically. Suddenly, however, she became deathly afraid of the new food bowl as well. Like before, she still drank water but would have no parts of the other bowl. I tried everything I mentioned before, but she remained terrified of the bowl and would only eat from my hand or morsels that fell onto the floor.
    Since the other bowl sets had been ceramic, I switched to stainless steel but no luck. I also took her bowls off the stand, but this didn’t do any good either.
    It has been around 8 or 9 months of this now. The vet believes that if she starves long enough she will eat, but I hate to see her go through that. Wish I knew what to do.

    1. Hi Yvette,

      I agree. There are instances where I don’t have any problems waiting a dog out, but that’s normally when the dog has decided it doesn’t like a necessary change in the food offered. There are some species where this can be dangerous (parrots or overweight cats) but healthy dogs aren’t known for problems in this arena. If they’re healthy they’ll eat sooner or later. However, in this case, the dog is afraid not being stubborn. I too hate to see a dog struggling on the basis of fear. I’d love it if you’d send some video of your dog struggling with this. I hope with enough videos I’ll be able to see a pattern.

      Have you had this dog’s teeth checked? I ask because I’ve worked with quite a few Havanese and some of them have had dental issues? Not conclusive but does her breath smell worse than one would expect?


  77. Sylvia Rodriguez

    I’m having this exact same problem it started when I bought a flowing faucet for the cat he freaked out now he won’t even get near his own bowl for food or water but has no problem eating from underneath the table when something drops or outside the plant container that has water in it.

  78. Ellen Mancuso

    I have a 4 year old Chihuahua/Min Pin mix. At only 4 pounds, she is afraid of everything! Noises, falling tissues, people, moving too fast, food & water bowl. She has to drink her water from between the cobblestones in the yard. Although after a walk, she will take sips from the bowl. She will eat from her dish if someone’s finger remains in the dish along the side, while she eats. Definitely neurotic. Has been this way almost from day one…at 6 weeks old. She will only go to certain family members and feel comfortable. She will remain calm in familiar surroundings. Likes to play with her toys as long as she is around familiar people. As there are two other (small) dogs in the house, I believe she is intimidated by them. Could be some of the cause for her behavior. Tried different methods to help her, but to no avail.

  79. I have a rescue chihuahua rat terrier mix who has zero issues eating of his bowl before. He’s now 7 years old and only recently started acting fearful about food. I have to hand feed him and sometimes he will relax enough to eat from the bowl. I too have to tag off his collar to make sure the tags don’t make noise. He is fine eating treats. The pattern now is he refuses breakfast, I go to work, take him for a nice walk, come back, hand feed him, coaxing him all the while. Repeat for dinner. Have not tried putting food on a plate yet but that’s a good idea. This seems fear-based and not about being spoiled.

  80. I would like to know if all the water is tap water in all these cases I would also like to know the geographic location of these comments connected to the dates not all of these cases are the same Source problem however what needs to be explored is whether there is another reason outside of the bowl and the water which is affecting all of these dogs or most of them is it sound that humans don’t hear is it Earth changes that we don’t perceive is it underground Drilling there has to be a Common Thread here I find it hard to believe that it’s the bowls again I would like to know if all of the water referred to is only tap water and where these people are located on the date they say these problems have begun to occur it seems that most of the dogs are older dogs another question is is there a Common Thread of dog food I find it difficult to believe that all these dogs are neurotic unless they’re nervous system has been interfered with mr. Dog guy can you get more information along the lines I suggested

  81. My 3 year old medium mixed breed dog is like this. I hate to say it but ever since we rescued him as a puppy he has exhibited signs of low intelligence to the point that we are sure he must have suffered some head trauma. He is afraid of everything, he sometimes barks at us like we’re a stranger even though we just left the room, he growls when we pet/give him love and he refuses to eat or drink from bowls. He would literally die if he couldn’t get water from outside. I know this is not the case with every fearful dog but I am very sure that he has had a brain injury and is the animal equivalent of mental retardation. It’s quite sad.

  82. Our 12 year old toy poodle is afraid of her water bowl. The videos I see is exactly how she is reacting. I purchased a dark bowl for her water and I go with her when she wants to drink. I put my hand on the bowl and all is well until I release my hand. So now I wait for her to completely finish and we all are better off now. She is not afraid to eat. I have always used a small fruit type bowl and she has never reacted as she does to the water bowl.

  83. Kelly Mac

    We just on July 17 got 2 Shih Tzu a brother and sister , they are now 9 weeks old . Missy eats and drinks great from anything and everything . Gizmo drinks great but will only eat if we put his food on the floor or I feed it to him and his is something I do not want to get in a habit of.. we have tried Metal , plastic , ceramic , shallow , deep .. I’m at a loss .. Help !!! Do I have a OCD pup??

  84. Our dog just started doing this today. She is a 3 year old Brittany Spaniel (not a rescue). But unlike the videos she is terrified to even look at her food or water bowls. Twice today she has tipped her bowls over and ran inside in ungrounded panic. Her species is a hunting type and today a small creature came in our backyard and she tried to kill it (but she did not succeed). Do you think she is paranoid because of this? Thanks

  85. My dog stop eating from her bowl , she just want to eat from the floor ( actually a tray where I put her food and her bowl of water) my major problem is that she doesn’t eat dog food and it is really a mess, I have to wash it after every meal, she eats meat, but she does not like vegetables , so I use them as a pasta sauce , like sweet potatoe or pumpkin etc… She does not care for food or treats, how can i get her to eat from the bowl again….. she drinks fine, but she is afraid of the food bowl does not matter which one, I already put in a paper and cut around the food and still she did not eat…

  86. I got my cross shih tzu/pekingese from a breeder when she was 10weeks. The mother had been taken away at 7 weeks ? When I went to look at the pups they were in a garden shed with a couch in it but never seen any feeding bowls When I got my dog home she wouldn’t eat from a bowl or plate. I put her food directly on the floor and she ate it then, She has sometimes eaten from a bowl as I persevered but then refused. She cowers and approaches the bowl or plate on these occasions just like the video of the lab at top of this discussion but she will not eat from it at all and have to resort to putting the food on the floor. She also apparently suffers from white dog shaker syndrome I was told by my vet as at a year old she was confronted by 2 other shih tzu’s and she started to shake uncontrollably and also drooled puddles of water from her mouth. This has became worse as she has grown older, she is now 8. She suffers from any loud noise, thunder, sudden noise of any kind makes her shake uncontrollably . She nevertheless is in good health, plays and loves toys especially her ball which she retrieves and brings back to me. I taught her within half an hour to do this she is really pretty smart dog. She also barks when my door bell rings and when a stranger will keep this up until I say to fling her ball for her and then she will play with them. Sorry this is a bit all over the place, I am just thinking about her behaviour as I am writing this. No idea if anyone else has this pattern with their dog, but would be interesting to know. Oh and she suffers badly from being left on her own even if I get out of my daughter’s car or leave with a friend for even 5 minutes she cries and performs until I return. I live on my own and must admit the fact I find it hard to leave her and especially if I want to go on holiday knowing she is like this.

  87. Did you ever come to a better conclusion on what is going on with these poor pups?
    I have a rescue dog (pit/Dane mix) who has been afraid of the water bowl the entire time we have had him, and recently now will not eat out of his food bowl either.
    He even gets scared if the bowl is in his kennel with him.

    1. Hi Leah,

      The comments contain some ideas. One I hadn’t encountered before was tonsilitis. I’m hoping more people will send in video of their dog’s behaviour as I think we might see some patterns after a while.


  88. After so many posts – what’s the verdict on your research?

  89. Hello John,
    I had the problem of my dog getting spooked at the water bowl for years. Tried all types and sizes of bowls, nothing ever seemed to help. He would drink, but always acted as though there was something gonna get him. Recently I moved. When I started running my AC I put a large plastic tub down to catch the drip outside. It’s approximately 2’x4′, & about 4″ deep. I noticed right away that he has no problems drinking from this larger source. Don’t know if this will help anyone else, but it made a big difference for us.

    1. Wow! Am I seeing this right? Nine years talking about dogs being scared of water/food bowls? Well here’s 1 more. . 7 year old terrier and he JUST started being afraid! On here I read about hand feeding. As long as I am touching his bowl he’ll eat from it. I know this is an old thread but I couldn’t resist!

  90. we just adopted a 10 month old Chihuahua and at first she would eat her food out of the bowl. Now we have switched her food to blue buffalo and she is scared of the bowl and if i put her next to it she fights me to get away. But she will eat out of my hand.

  91. I have a 1 year old black lab… just recently it began getting cold in our area and of course mice have moved in… it seems as though ever since that our pup has been afraid to drink or eat from his bowls. He acts scared and barks at them instead. He would eat off the floor or out of our hands but not from the bowl. After about a week, we moved his bowl to another location and the house and what do you know, he began eating and drinking from his bowl again… weird.

  92. Cezanne Pellett

    Our 8 year jackshund has the same problem. He will cautiously approach the bowl, grab a little food and quickly back off with it. Then he’ll set it on the floor and eat it a few feet from the bowl. At first, I thought it was silly or funny, then I realized how it must feel to be literally afraid of your food. We have a few pets, so we have one of the gallon size water containers and it bubbles sometimes and that scares him so he absolutely will not drink from that. We thought, since the food was next to it that maybe the whole set up just scared him, so we put separate water and food dishes in another part of the house for him. But he does the same thing with the water there, and won’t even touch the food, he’ll only eat from the one by the big water jug. We’ve had him for 7 years and I know he hasn’t done this the whole time, but I can’t remember how long ago it started. It’s been at least a year and it seems to be getting worse. He’s also started getting really aggressive about wanting human food, he’ll practically jump into your lap to get a plate from you. We avoid letting him have our food, but sometimes he’ll get ahold of something and heaven help you if you try to take it away! He doesn’t really seem to be afraid of a lot of things, he’s never been jumpy or nervous, just a fairly even tempered dog, it’s just been lately that he’s gotten weird about food.

  93. Hi, John,
    Years ago I used to work for professional show handlers and we would run across this the-bowl-wants-to-eat-me situation with some of the dogs. Our solution was all dogs were fed on pieces of newspaper torn in triangles, or paper plates. I worked primarily with small dogs and they were trained to drink out of water bottles. No scary bowls and clean-up was easy.

    When I managed a large boarding kennel the dogs were fed out of those paper trays sold for fast-food vendors. No rattle, low, you could throw them away after they were done. I still use the paper trays for my own dogs. Fed and in the garbage goes the tray.

    The only dog I’ve had that had trouble eating from a bowl was a very elderly ChiX that had a series of strokes. She would look at the food but couldn’t seem to coordinate dropping her head, grabbing the food and swallowing it. My solution was hand feeding her the last year of her life. She could drink fine, though, until the last six weeks. I syringed her with H2O the last weeks, then she had a stroke and died. So there was something neurological in her case.

      1. 17 year old shitz tzu with dementia has coordination problems described. He is blind & deaf. He spends long minutes lapping at his water dish…I’m trying everything. For several weeks made food that he ate: cooked chicken breasts, cooked carrots and skimmed chicken broth into food processor..consistency of pudding. Then, caught him trying to eats rat terrier’s kibble. He doesn’t like my cooking anymore…trying to feed him kibble.
        Have tried on newspaper and in bowls stacked. He puts his face in kibble the tosses it up in the air most of the time.
        Neurological sounds like what’s going on. Have been to vet on regular basis through the years.
        He doesn’t seem to be in pain. Just confused.

  94. Nickole

    My 2-year-old Jack Russell has started behaving this way since I purchased a new water container. We had a smaller gravity fed one, but we were filling it twice a day, so we upgraded to a larger size. I noticed that when the bowl on the new one gets a little empty, an air bubble will form and it makes a noise as the air travels to the top. I think the sound scared him and he refuses to drink from it. I feel bad as I didn’t understand this was an issue for him until I heard him licking the bathtub clean after a shower. I have looked at other containers but don’t see one that will be any different and trashed the old one.

  95. Natasha Yee

    My little 8 year old apple head long haired Chihuahua also has issues with this. She is pretty anxious in general at times, but she is also very loving and cuddly. When she approaches her bowl, any slight shift or noise of the bowl or plate makes her jump back. She will eat, very apprehensively, moving away from the bowl to actually chew and swallow the food. Then she whines and barks when she gets to the bottom. She is pretty tiny, but so are her bowls. I have tried different materials, etc. She does seem to prefer to eat off the floor, though she must have been through some type of food related trauma, because she still moves the food away from its original location to eat it. Poor little nerve ball. I got her at 6-8 weeks old, can’t remember exactly.

  96. My family adopted a puppy about 1 1/2 months ago. She is currently coming up on turning 4 months, and within the past week is suddenly afraid of her ceramic food and water dishes. She has had them since she was adopted, and had no issues before. I do know her collar tag clinks against the dish, so my parents removed the collar (She had only just gotten big enough to wear it), but she still is scared. If I hand feed her with my hand over the bowl, she’s fine, or if I cup the water in my hand she will drink. I had her lying in my lap and clipped my own jewelry and her tag against the ceramic gently while giving her praise and treats, and she didn’t act like she was petrified with fear. But she still avoids the dishes. She otherwise acts fine, and doesn’t seem to mind the dishes existing. It doesn’t seem to matter where we put them either. She will drink and eat out of my cat’s ceramic dishes. Any ideas?

  97. My family recently adopted an English cream golden puppy about 1 1/2 months ago. She is coming up on 4 months of age, and within the past week has suddenly become afraid of her ceramic food and water dish. They are the same dishes she had from day one. She just recently grew enough to fit the collar on, and we did notice the tag clinks against the dishes. We have removed the collar, and at one point I had her in my lap and I gently clinked my jewelry and her tag against the dish while giving her treats and praise. She did not act petrified with fear, nor did she make an effort to run away. She will eat and drink if I cup the water or kibble in my hand and hold it over/in the dishes. She has never had any prior issues with the dishes. The location does not seem to matter. The strangest part is that she likes to drink from my cat’s ** ceramic** water dish. Any ideas?

    1. Nope, outside of the usual culprits (eyesight, tooth problem, tags clinking etc), I’m stumped. Many of these cases seem to have some other cause. I do have a hypothesis I’m working on and I’m developing a survey. Please send a few videos of your dog’s reactions both with and without your attempting to entice.


    2. Update – (Monday, September 17th, 2018)
      I’m looking for volunteers to test a theory I have as to what is causing this issue with at least some of the dogs. It may provide a potential and relatively simple and inexpensive treatment. (Or it may be a dead end.)

      – John ‘Ask The Dog Guy’ Wade
      Embracing Science and Common Sense

  98. 12 year old Corgi, same thing all of a sudden. His eyesight is deteriorating so may be part of the problem. He has a voracious appetite. He will start to eat or drink, then jump backward, startled. He is drinking less than half the amount of water he normally consumes, daily. I’ve tried everything and nothing helps; really feel bad for him.

  99. Ryan sadler

    Hi John,
    I read your response about the black lab and my dog has a similar situation, however she is not old, and she is now afraid of the whole mat we put the bowls on. She used to eat out of her bowl, but gradually became afraid of it (we took her collar off as well). Therefore, we decided to place her food directly on the mat. She ate it at first and then the same thing happened with the bowl, where she gradually became afraid of that as well. She is now afraid of that whole area where her food is, and even when we move it, she won’t eat it and we have to hand feed it to her sometimes so she stays healthy and eats. Do you know what the problem is or anything we can do to fix it. Thanks.

    1. Hi Ryan,

      No, I’m not sure what the problem is. I think there are several different potential causes. I’ve been talking to some people that are familiar with electrical and magnetic fields as I’m starting to wonder if there is in some dogs a sensitivity that most humans do not share. These issues are so often in the kitchen where we have many appliances I’m looking for ways to measure for different fields to see if I can find a pattern to support the hypothesis.


    2. Update – (Monday, September 17th, 2018)
      I’m looking for volunteers to test a theory I have as to what is causing this issue with at least some of the dogs. It may provide a potential and relatively simple and inexpensive treatment. (Or it may be a dead end.)

      – John ‘Ask The Dog Guy’ Wade
      Embracing Science and Common Sense

  100. I’m so glad I found this post. It’s interesting that I see a lot of shi tzu breeds. My Bodhi is a 6 year old cocker spaniel/shi tzu mix with the same issue. It’s really only developed over the past couple years. He is a nervous pup (takes after me lol). So he’s afraid of fireworks and thunder and forget it if I drop a spoon on the kitchen floor. The water part isn’t a issue because I have one of those pet water fountains so he drinks from the running water. I’ve learned that he is a bit better with a paper plate but he is still timid. He will eat off the floor no problem or even from my hand. He used to love eating leftover soup from my bowl but he won’t now. It’s the oddest thing.

    1. Update – (Monday, September 17th, 2018)
      I’m looking for volunteers to test a theory I have as to what is causing this issue with at least some of the dogs. It may provide a potential and relatively simple and inexpensive treatment. (Or it may be a dead end.)

      – John ‘Ask The Dog Guy’ Wade
      Embracing Science and Common Sense

  101. Eva Garroutte

    Very similar story w/my Maltese rescue–always been afraid of food and water bowls (and even of food NOT in bowl). I have to give him water via syringe much of the time and food often by hand. He absolutely acts like the food and water are causing him pain. I noticed several people above mentioned their dogs having teeth removed. Is this generally true? Our dog had all but 4 teeth removed when we got him from the rescue and now he’s lost all of them. His tongue accordingly has always hung out of his mouth. Do you suppose the odd behavior is somehow related to his not having teeth or proper use of his tongue? Does that make it hard from him to ingest comfortably? Do the rest of you have dogs with missing teeth?

    1. Hi Eva,

      It’s possible, however I suspect it might be more connected to the reason he had to have those teeth removed. If he was suffering for long enough from tooth decay or whatever required the extractions and it was particularly painful eating or drinking he may still be expecting a jolt every bite from a food bowl or lap from his water bowl. Pain is a powerful teacher but not one where the student always connects the dots correctly.

  102. suzanna Bares

    My 14 yr old Beagle does the same thing with his food bowl . Did it once with the water. Just like the lab, he jumps back and walks away. The only way I can get him to eat is to dump the food on the floor.

    1. Update – (Monday, September 17th, 2018)
      I’m looking for volunteers to test a theory I have as to what is causing this issue with at least some of the dogs. It may provide a potential and relatively simple and inexpensive treatment. (Or it may be a dead end.)

      – John ‘Ask The Dog Guy’ Wade
      Embracing Science and Common Sense

  103. Hi John,

    Having this exact same problem as the original post except my dog is a 6 month old border collie. He won’t drink water, eats snow and will eventually eat his food but is scared. He will drink water from a plate or food of the ground with encouragement. When we first got him (around 4 months old) he ate and drank just find out of the bowls.

    1. Update – (Monday, September 17th, 2018)
      I’m looking for volunteers to test a theory I have as to what is causing this issue with at least some of the dogs. It may provide a potential and relatively simple and inexpensive treatment. (Or it may be a dead end.)

      – John ‘Ask The Dog Guy’ Wade
      Embracing Science and Common Sense

  104. Recently our Rhodesian ridgeback started being afraid of her water bowl at 8-9 months of age. She is a well-socialized puppy who is not generally anxious about other things. We have tried many approaches, including ignoring her behavior. So far, she seems to be getting worse.

    1. Update – (Monday, September 17th, 2018)
      I’m looking for volunteers to test a theory I have as to what is causing this issue with at least some of the dogs. It may provide a potential and relatively simple and inexpensive treatment. (Or it may be a dead end.)

      – John ‘Ask The Dog Guy’ Wade
      Embracing Science and Common Sense

  105. Nigel Fleming

    Hi John,

    Did you ever get to the bottom of the “bowl fear”?

    I can’t see any dates on the posts so don’t know how old this thread is.

    I’m UK based, have a 6 month old healthy Dachshund, who we got when he was 4 months.

    For the first month he ate and drank out his bowl. Then for no obvious reason he stopped drinking out his water bowl (though he will drink when totally desperate).

    If I’m playing ball with him inside and the ball rolls near his water bowl then he’ll give it a wide berth. If it stops next to his bowl he won’t go and get it.

    And more recently he is very timid when it comes to his food bowl. Just looking at us as if to say “you don’t seriously expect me to go near that do you?”.

    Yet, if I put the contents into a Kong he’ll happily sit down and eat it.

    Having said that, sometimes he’ll happily eat out of it, not looking timid at all. Breakfast seems to be the biggest issue, but lunch/evenings are entirely random.

    Who knew this was such a common thing for dogs?


    1. In many cases, it’s a combination of a dog owner with a history of being far too attentive to the dog and a dog with a fair amount of intelligence but is wired due to genetics and perhaps critical socialization period experiences. However, that doesn’t explain all the cases and I’m no longer all that sure it’s the case with the majority. It’s a puzzle I would dearly like to solve. Without sounding like a conspiracy theorist nutter I’m beginning to suspect that some of these dogs are far more sensitive to electrical and magnetic fields than others or just as sensitive as any other but are far more put off. There is a product that I think might help test my hypothesis and I’m awaiting a return call from its manufacturer.


      John ‘Ask The Dog Guy’ Wade
      Embracing Science and Common Sense
      London’s #1 Referred Puppy and Dog Trainer

    2. Update – (Monday, September 17th, 2018)
      I’m looking for volunteers to test a theory I have as to what is causing this issue with at least some of the dogs. It may provide a potential and relatively simple and inexpensive treatment. (Or it may be a dead end.)

      – John ‘Ask The Dog Guy’ Wade
      Embracing Science and Common Sense

  106. Danette

    I have a 10 year old Maltese. When we got him, he was kept in a separate cage because they said he was an “aggressive eater”. We also have a 10 year old shih tzu/papillon mix who we had first. When we brought home the Maltese, he would growl or bark at our other dog so from the start they have been fed in separate rooms. And, we stop the bowl years ago. He didn’t seem to like his face/ears getting in the food when it was in a bowl. This led to grooming which he is terrified of (along with the usual storms, smoke alarms, fireworks, etc) so I think he associated it with that. But, also from day 1, he has been a picky eater. In the past several years though, it’s a real struggle to get him to eat at all. He literally cowers in fear and starts shaking when we put food in front of him. I try hand feeding him but he refuses. After many attempts throughout the day, he usually gives in and eats. No problems that I ever noticed with the water bowl, just food for him. We’ve tried every brand on the market trying to get him to eat. If it weren’t for the fact that he is doing more harm to himself than his brother, we’d swear he was doing it just to tease him because it makes him crazy that there is food that he can’t eat and the Maltese won’t!

  107. Kathy Thomas

    Hi did anything ever come of this thread? Pet parents of a hand fed 9 month old Cavalier spaniel……..just wondering, as interested in suggestions. No paper plates, no bowl, no plate, carpet or my hand only since 10 weeks old. Thanks

    1. Nothing new yet, but I’m working on a hypothesis and will be hopefully posting an update soon.


      John ‘Ask The Dog Guy’ Wade
      Embracing Science and Common Sense
      London’s #1 Referred Puppy and Dog Trainer

    2. Update – (Monday, September 17th, 2018)
      I’m looking for volunteers to test a theory I have as to what is causing this issue with at least some of the dogs. It may provide a potential and relatively simple and inexpensive treatment. (Or it may be a dead end.)
      – John ‘Ask The Dog Guy’ Wade
      Embracing Science and Common Sense

    3. Update – (Monday, September 17th, 2018)
      I’m looking for volunteers to test a theory I have as to what is causing this issue with at least some of the dogs. It may provide a potential and relatively simple and inexpensive treatment. (Or it may be a dead end.)

      – John ‘Ask The Dog Guy’ Wade
      Embracing Science and Common Sense

  108. My 8 year old maltese poodle gets scared by the sound of her food plate when it moves on the floor and then won’t eat for days until she’s so hungry she just gets over it. She has no problem eating the cat poop though…

  109. S Knack

    2 weeks ago while drinking my dog got the tags on his collar hung on the platform that his water dish sat on. He jerked his head up and the water dish came with it. It scared him and now he’ll only drink small sips then back away staring at the bowl. I got rid of the platform and keep trying different bowls, also moving the bowls to different spots. Nothing helps, poor guy is terrified.

  110. Dan Rodriguez

    I have the same problem with my Golden Retriever. If you have any suggestions I’d love to hear them. I need help

    1. Update – (Monday, September 17th, 2018)
      I’m looking for volunteers to test a theory I have as to what is causing this issue with at least some of the dogs. It may provide a potential and relatively simple and inexpensive treatment. (Or it may be a dead end.)
      – John ‘Ask The Dog Guy’ Wade
      Embracing Science and Common Sense

  111. Kristin

    Found this post while doing some research on the issue, might be worth a try:

    I’m pet sitting for a friend’s dog and he’s afraid of his own bowls. I recognize that sometimes it takes a day or two for some dogs to settle in when they are in a new place, but it has been three and a half days now and he seems legitimately terrified of the bowls his owner brought no matter where I put them, whether I’m sitting next to them on the floor or leaving them alone completely (water bowl is metal – he will drink enthusiastically out of a different metal bowl that I have at work, food bowl is plastic with rubber bottom, dog is 1yr). Finally got him to eat this morning by adding an egg to his kibbles and dumping it all on the floor after a little hand-feeding.

    1. Update
      (Monday, September 17th, 2018)

      I’m looking for volunteers to test a theory I have as to what is causing this issue with at least some of the dogs. It may provide a potential and relatively simple and inexpensive treatment. (Or it may be a dead end.)

      – John ‘Ask The Dog Guy’ Wade
      Embracing Science and Common Sense

      1. Wondering what your theory is or how to test it? Our border collie has been terrified of her water bowl for years if it’s set on a hard surface (like the tile floor) but will drink enthusiastically from the same bowl if it’s sitting on a rug or towel. Tried plastic, ceramic, metal bowls. Same reaction if it’s sitting on a hard surface. One time we put the water bowl in the hall on the wood floors and called her. She stopped when she saw the bowl and wouldn’t go around it even though she really wanted to come to us. She’s fine with her food bowl though. At this point she has impaired vision but she has done this for many years, well before her vision started going. She was adopted from a shelter at two months old so I wouldn’t call her a rescue.

  112. My 8 month old female sheltie is afraid to eat and drink from her bowls.She had to be hand fed and watered when she wore a cone for 2 weeks and now she is spoiled,how to we break this habit we got her into ?

    1. Hi John,

      If you’re sure that it’s none of the other things you find (she’s healthy) in the comments here and it’s simply just stubborn/spoiled, put her food down twice a day and set a timer for 2 minutes and remove the food. No coaxing, no drama, don’t even stay in the same room. No treats at any point through the day either. It may take 4 straight days if she’s a hardcore case and she may miss a ton of meals before she realizes your home is not a diner and you are not her personal valet. However, by day 4 the average dog is back on track. Leave water out all the time.


      John ‘Ask The Dog Guy’ Wade
      Embracing Science and Common Sense

  113. Jill Sullivan

    I have a 14 yr old pekingese who has not eaten for 4 days. Last night, I scrambled an egg and put it on the floor and she gobbled it up and then came in the living room with a kick in her step (as if she were saying “well Mom, thanks for finally feeding me.”). Today I put her food on a flat piece of tin foil on the floor (because she eats wet food) and she approached in gingerly and then licked at it for a few seconds and then walked away. I will wait to see if she eats it later today but am hopeful as she would not get near the bowl. This is the same bowl she has eaten from for 4 years. She will eat a hard treat when we leave the house for any reason so it’s not the gums or a tarter build-up issue.

  114. Fernando Rivas

    I have the same issue. I’d like to volunteer for your theory.
    Thank you!

  115. Hi, this site is interesting to me. My 12 year old 20kg rough collie has recently had the same problem. First it started with her bowl of water and she would try to get outside to drink out of the water feature and now it has started to happen with her food too (both bowls are ceramic and she’s eaten out of them for years). I’ve gone through all the usual causes: teeth, age, eyesight etc. but she’s acting totally spooked and now will only eat out of our hands (not even off a plate). She’s clearly hungry and thirsty. My guts are saying she’s simply frightened of something or has heard a sound (she’s also spooked by wind, fireworks etc and always has been) and is now either frightened or is unforgiving because she’s been spooked before even once. My two best guesses are: we moved to a new house four years ago and have had a mouse to deal with during that time. We wondered if they are in the foundations (holes are now blocked) and she can hear them but, my second one (which is why I am very interested in your electro magnetic theory) is that we have recently got a smart meter fitted in the cupboard beside where her bowls sat. The little reader thing is on the bench (they connect wirelessly to the meter in the cupboard) and I’ve wondered for a little while if this is the problem as she is a very sensitive dog with very sharp hearing etc. I’d be very interested in hearing your hypothesis. Best Dawn

  116. Just adopted a two year old havanese /poodle/Shih Tzu rescue. Scared of water and food bowls. Glad to help do experiment. If my son sits next to him he will eats bit. He’s very underweight, so I’m worried. HVe a video hog him with the water…glad to send.thanks!

  117. Jackie Steele

    Hi, my 10 month old lab mix has started doing this. What is the “experiment” you’re doing? I’d be happy to help/volunteer.



  118. My 12-year-old dog is having this same issue for the past several days with his food only – he drinks water just fine. I tried using different types (stainless, stoneware, paper plates, etc.) of bowls and dishes, as well as putting them in different places in the kitchen and pantry. He still acts afraid to approach the bowl and will eat a few bites, then back away. He loves the food and will eat it if I pour it on the floor, hold the bowl, or hand feed it to him. Normally, he eats his meal in ten seconds flat! Yesterday, I tried a different mix-in wet food with his dinner kibble and he ate it in the original bowl in the original location, no problem. This morning, with just kibble in the bowl, he is skittish around it again. Note, he does not wear a collar in the house, so no tags are hitting the bowl. This behavior happened in the past and I was able to solve the problem, which turned out to be that his stainless bowls rattled a little in their holder. I wrapped electrical tape around the holder so the bowls sat more snugly in it and didn’t move or make noise. It’s been about a year and I can’t figure out what the problem is now.

  119. Juliana

    My 13 yr old female Siberian Husky has a fear/anxiety to eat and drink she has had the eating problem for more years than I can remember but it has gotten worse as she would at least eat and drink from a bowl but now will only eat off the floor, on a towel or by hand. She developed the drinking problem about 18 months ago when she pretty much stopped drinking from
    A bowl unless she was coming dehydrated but mainly would drink from rivers, puddles or a water bottle. We have had her since she was 14 weeks purchased from a pet store. She is a pure bred and has always been healthy with regular blood work and check ups. Vets never seemed to be concerned with her weight only stating she could put on a few lbs but that she is healthy otherwise. We had another female Husky for 2 years when we got her who had no problem eating or drinking or any anxiety issues. They grew up together until my oldest dog passed last year. My younger dog displayed anxiety from the point we got her but we thought it was because of a new environment. She did get better and didn’t have issues eating or drinking initially but after a few years she moved with my boyfriend at the time to a place dogs weren’t allowed and become “programmed” to being in a room while he was gone which I believe created a need to be in the place she sleeps 99% of the time which in every place she has lived has been our bedroom. Seems to be her safe place. This was the beginning of her anxiety always wanting to be in the bedroom so we eventually had to move her food and water into the bedroom she does come out at times and loves to go on walks etc but when we’re home she wants to be in her room. We thought all of this was weird but she has always been healthy otherwise so we’ve tried to accommodate her anxiousness by doing whatever seemed to make her more comfortable and hoped with love and time she would get less anxious. She has always needed some coaxing to eat but never to drink. She was fed from a bowel either metal or ceramic. There would be days she would eat all of her food and some days she would barely eat. We did try not encouraging her to eat and limiting the food to a few minutes but she would hold out for two days at a time without eating so we went back to encouraging since she will hold out longer than we can and she’s thin enough. She did have stomach issues for a while which made us think was a cause why she feared eating associating the stomach pains with food but now she rarely gets to that point where her stomach hurts because we will put the food literally inside her mouth and she eats it. I hate doing this because I feel like it’s creating a pattern although it’s not necessary all of the time but I do it at least once a day to make sure she gets certain vitamins or pills. Moving forward I’ve tried many varieties of food raw, cooked, boiled, freeze dried, canned, kibble and even ice cream but she generally acts scared and needs to be coaxed/encouraged to eat it. When being fed she usually has a sense of fear or uncertainty like if she’s going to be hurt except when given treats she usually will take it fairly quickly although she may not eat it right away or at all. She obviously eats and drinks to a certain extent because she wouldn’t have survived this long and she does have good stools. I can tell she wants to eat and drink because she comes out when it’s time to eat stands and looks at the food or will go to the water bowl and just looks at it multiple times a day but either won’t drink or maybe one or two quick drinks until she’s dying of thurst and comes drinks the whole bowl in one sitting. I’ve tried putting different things in the water bowl like treats, kefir, ACV, etc but nothing works. I even give my dogs purified water or bottle water it helps a little as they prefer it but not enough for my one dog to drink it frequently. I’ve even gone to the point of constantly making sure the water bowls are free of debris and filled to the top since she seems to drink more in those situations. She is getting slightly better because at one point she would only drink water from the floor or a water bottle and would only eat directly from the floor and it felt like nothing we could do to get her back to the bowl but we finally put our foot down and stopped serving her water and telling her no when drinking from the floor puddles. She slowly came back to the water bowl more frequently but it cannot be metal, electric or raised. She now drinks from a ceramic water bowl and sometimes when she’s looking at the bowl if we put her head really close over it she’ll start drinking and good girl comments encourage her to drink. We’ve tried a lot of things I’ve fed my dogs boiled chicken, steak and salmon too and that only worked for a short period for her. For a time we had to sprinkle kibble around like chicken feed and she ate that for a while but then got tired of it. I don’t feed my dogs kibble but I was willing to try anything so she will eat regularly. And we tried different size paper and ceramic plates, hand feeding, cutting boards, raised dishes, ceramic dog bowls of various sizes and depths none worked but she’ll eat off a towel and if I stick the food in her cheek. I know she’s done eating when she completely walks away from the feeding area and after a few minutes of not returning I pick it up. I feel like she started getting scared of bowls when we started to hand feed and drink our other dog who had k9 cognitive disorder. That’s obviously an assumption but my older dog use to eat from ceramic bowl or a metal raised bowl. Also if there is a lot of noise going on she won’t eat or drink and the bowl cannot move otherwise she’ll run away. We also noticed that almost every time before we’re going to go out she goes to the bowl and drinks a ton of water like a survival technique as if she knows she will be thirsty on her walk etc. this again doesn’t make sense since we take a doggy water bottle with us on all walks and offer our dogs water multiple times. I did read some where about removing the tags from the collar may be causing noise against the bowl which I haven’t tried yet but I just recently started giving her zylkene for her anxiety prescribed by our vet which had helped a little with her coming out of the bedroom more frequently and socializing more but not with eating or drinking. She’s been on it a month. At this point Id just love for her to be less anxious, eat consistently on her own and drink regularly from the bowl. I can’t think of one thing that started all of this especially since my dog seems to not be afraid of jumping off rocks and jumping into the ocean or standing her growned with other dogs but she has all these anxieties towards things that she shouldn’t fear. All I want is my dog to be happy and healthy so I’m doing whatever works for now but I do have a 3yr old rescue that we got at the age of 6 months and I don’t want her to start getting these habits as she’s already getting upset at feeding time because she seems to think our other dog is getting more food since it takes her longer to eat and getting more attention during that time. I’m going to do some videos of her in eating and drinking situations and post back here to see if anyone can help with her issues.

  120. We have a rescue who won’t eat out of any dish. We have to put food on floor. He drinks very little and is scared of any dish. We give him wet food which contains water. Many vet visits no solutions. Very nervous poodle girlie mix. Tried medication didnt help. We just can’t travel no one would understand and feed him. Poor dog.

  121. My new rescue is doing the same thing. I’ve had him for around 3 months and in the last few days he has been fearful of both his water bowls. Upstairs and downstairs. He will wine to go outside to drink from the plastic ice cream bucked I keep filled for him in the back yard.
    He has also suddleny been afraid of the stairs to go upstairs in my house and my boyfriends house. He has no issues until now.
    Increased barking at noises as well.
    He is an older gentlemen so my guess is it is just eye sight. 🙁

  122. So my 8 month old black lab was scared of her food and bowl just one day out of nowhere. It took a few days of her moving and hiding from her food at breakfast. At dinner she must have been hungry so although she hesitated and was scared to approach her food she still ate at dinner probably because she was starved from barely eating her breakfast. Two things i think were the issue….1. She would push the bowl around and sniff around the bowl and acted weird and scared and then move back from her food. Also i should add the bowl was stainless steel. Anyway after a week of trying to pet her while eating or telling her to eat i decided to put her kibble on her matt where her bowl was. She ate all of her food no problem. After 2 days of getting more comfortable with her food her new bowl from amazon arrived which was black instead of stainless steel and on a stand which would not allow her to push the bowl around and act finnicky with it. She eats all of her food now out of the new bowl with her tail waggin compared to before tail between her legs and would cower from jer food.

  123. Montyjam

    Sunday November 4, 2018

    We have had our Bichon mix rescue for approximately 3.5 years. He was 15 months old when we got him. He was skinny, afraid of everything, had fear aggression towards other dogs, etc. We do not know his history but expect neglect and maybe even abuse.

    Since we got him, he has gained five pounds and become a friendly, funny dog who likes just about everyone. He is very cuddly, loves to be held and snuggle with both of us. He sleeps on our bed with his adopted sister, a Chipoo. She is dominant and he is passive by nature. They go to doggy daycare three days a week and are well socialized. We travel frequently so we leave them with the same dogsitters they’ve had for years. They have the same dog, in the same house and everyone gets along very well.

    During our last trip away, he stopped eating his freeze-dried raw food while with them. They resorted to giving him the kibble we left for them. Since he’s been home, he’s been jumping back from his food bowl after one or two bites. He sits there, whining to eat but terrified of his bowl. If we move the food around, he will eat a bit more and then starts whining again. This goes on until the bowl is empty.

    We’ve also tried different bowls, plates, spoons, and using our hands. He will take a few bites and then back away. Just to be clear, he absolutely LOVES this food. If we are late serving it, he will sit in front of us, waiting for us to feed him. Then the trouble starts. Whatever you are doing to try to solve this mystery, we are willing to participate.

  124. My dog has the same problem. Started at age 5 but I realized the problem was seeing his reflection in the bottom of the food bowl. Fixed that with a black bowl. But now at 12 it’s started again. It’s not the tags clinking. I tried taking his collar off but no change. It’s improved by shifting all the food to one side of the bowl – towards him – so doesn’t block his nose? About half way through I shift again and he usually finishes but I sometimes just have to dump the food on his mat. Weird since he is a very hungry dog!

  125. Michael

    My 8 month old black lab out of nowhere became scared of her food….I made sure not to make a big deal of it during feeding time in order to not make it worse … after 3 days of her being scared of her bowl and food and me frustrated that she wouldn’t eat I decided to put her kibble on the floor on her Matt….she ate it without the cowering from her bowl…she became comfortable eating off the floor and after day 3 of eating on the floor I introduced her to new bowls…I switched from her stainless steel bowl which she would move around with her nose and be really scared and not eat from …to ….2 bowls that are black and on a stand ..I got them on Amazon. At first she was hesitant but did eat and tried to flip the bowl but she couldn’t and now after 1 week she eats breakfast and dinner no problem and is back to her normal self…the bowls I bought were called platinum pets modern double diner stand…not to advertise for them but since she eats from it now and is not scared I’d recommend …get a bowl that your dog can’t see their reflection….and can’t move or flip over…hopefully this helps

  126. My Border Collie is 14 & 1/2. She was diagnosed with canine dementia last year…Sundowner Syndrome, pacing and panting all night, sleeping all day. My vet recommended a Neuro food, melatonin and fish oil. It helped tremendously. For the past 2 months though, she won’t drink water out of her usual 2 bowls in the house. She wants to do on the deck and drink out of the plant tray, which began with rain water. The other place is in upside down Frisbees, again outside. We are starting to have freezing weather, and I am lost as to how to get her drinking water inside again. It’s also quite disturbing to have to open 2 back doors to get her onto the deck to drink water. She used to eat and drink water in the same inside area, plus she had another water bowl upstairs. She wants nothing to do with the inside bowls…though she still eats inside. Help!!!

  127. I’ve had the same problem with my 6 month shih tzu. She sniffs then backs off and stares at her bowls, sometimes going 1-2 days without eating or drinking. She will eat off the floor but recently found she will eat off a paper towel. Will try a paper bowl now for the water. The bowls I have tried in the past are glass, plastic, ceramic and stainless steel. Maybe an odor thing? Or noise of some sort.

  128. John:

    We have a Coton who has recently become frightened of her water bowl, then her food bowl. After reading many comments, I thought that the electric shock theory might be correct. She would jump whenever her tags hit the bowl, as well as when her bowl moved on the tile floor and made noise. I think the sound scared her, making her think she was getting a static shock.

    We took off her collar. Used a smaller bowl on a rubber placemat so it won’t move. Also put the water bowl on a placemat. I am also looking at grounding my dog’s kennels, which are metal, so that they can’t get shocks from them, either. (Now that I think of it, she also slowed down or was resistant about getting into her kennel, also. She used to race her “brother” to the kennels.)

    I believe that she was getting a small electric shock from her metal bowls, possibly through her metal tags on her collar. She also thought that the sound of her tags, or scraping of the bowl, was going to be a new electric shock.

    I have no proof, and no video for you. These are my impressions.

  129. My 7 yr old Chihuahua has started to get scared while trying to drink water. Whenever been scared before but for the last few weeks she’ll approach her water bowl and take a quick lick and jump back, repeat this a few times and then give up.
    If I hold her bowl up to her mouth she drinks loads but I can’t always be around to do this.
    We have very hot weather here so it’s a concern. I don’t want her to get dehydrated. Any ideas? Has anybody found any solutions? Please share, thanks.

  130. My 7 yr old Chihuahua has started to get scared while trying to drink water. Whenever been scared before but for the last few weeks she’ll approach her water bowl and take a quick lick and jump back, repeat this a few times and then give up.
    If I hold her bowl up to her mouth she drinks loads but I can’t always be around to do this.
    We have very hot weather here so it’s a concern. I don’t want her to get dehydrated. Any ideas? Has anybody found any solutions? Please share, thanks.

  131. Thomas Cuthbertson

    I am having the same problem with my 4yr old border collie bitch. She will take water out of a bowl but seem afraid when it’s food. Used a flat dish which worked for a couple of weeks. Started putting it straight on the floor but again only worked for a few weeks. At the end of my tether as she will go a few days without eating.

  132. Our shih tzu has problems eating or drinking off a plate or out of a bowl. Acts afraid/nervous of the plate. Doesn’t like the plate or bowl moving especially. On water we switched years ago to a plastic cup. She would not drink out of a bowl. She drinks just fine out of a cup. Maybe the smaller surface of the water is less scary?

  133. Same problem here. Adopted a corgi mix 5 weeks ago. A great eater. Several days ago he became afraid to approach his food bowl. I thought maybe the kitchen floor was too cold so I put a mat down. He came in yesterday and ate, This morning he is back to the afraid to approach and eat. I do not want to hand feed my dog. He is 8 years old. He has had a check up and dental work so I know nothing is physically wrong. His disposition has not changed. He still is alert and likes to go for walks and play. What the heck is this?

  134. Are you still looking for volunteers? I have a 3 yr old Maltipoo who had vomiting and diarrhea for two days and afterwards suddenly became afraid of food and water bowls. Have tried every type/shape of bowls. Will only lick water off floor or eat off floor. Any ideas welcome. Will volunteer for your experiment.

  135. Cami,
    Could be all of the things you described. Your doggie is young…he’ll probably get into the swing of things.

  136. Elaine Turner

    I have this problem with my 8 year old yorkie. It just started recently. He will drinkit of his bowl as usual but he acts afraid of his food dish. We have tried a dog dish paper plates. He will only eat his dry food off the floor and his wet food i have to hand feed him. Im at my wits end asto what to do to. Please help!

  137. Eye sight….
    I have read about half of the problemed dogs and their dishes that seem to have betrayed them. I joke a little as I too have been frustrated with the same issue. My 13yr Shepard mixed male has become weary of both his water and food dish. More so the food dish that he cautiously eats out of it but salivates profusely when we hand feed him.
    With the water bowl he use to stick his whole head in with no concerns, now is skittish but still is willing to drink. I don’t want to reinforce the bizarre behavior but he is more willing to drink from the water if I put my hand down on the rim of the bowl. He then will put his head next to my hand and drink almost freely, but not like he use to. He also, as mentioned with other dogs, freely drinks water from any surface outside.
    I was trying to think when the habit started with his dishes. But can not think of a specific event or time. We just know that about two years ago he started to loose some noticeable weight. But The wife and I don’t think it has been that long but not to far off the mark, and i think the two are to close not to be a coincidence of each other.

    I will say that it seems to be with older dogs, their eyes might be starting to fail them and if it has been more of a sudden change than a slower gradual change than it could cause them to see the dishes from a different perspective, clouds, haziness, or spots. My Sheppard seems to be getting cloudy eyes. But he is due his annual vet. check so I’ll get a professional opinion.

  138. Amy-Louise van der Merwe

    I have a yorkie 1 year and he started at 8 Months with the same problem but i need to lift the bowl a few inches off the floor before he will and he must stand between my legs. eat and he will also not drink out of a bowl i need to pick him up and he will drink fro m the tap in the basin. in the bathroom. if i give him a piece of chicken and and it’s to big with my hand he will get scared of it and eat a smaller piece off the floor. and other times he will eat if from my hand if it’s to big from the floor. but his main meals ha just ignore he will die of hunger but not eat anything form the bow. they even have a self feeder, but nothing. a plate of meat can stand in his way he willl not eat from it.

  139. Jonathan

    Hi there we also have the same experience as many above. We have a 3(ISH) year old Tibetan spaniel cross who is an ex street dog, rescued from Romania and now living with us in the UK. He’s been with us for around 2 years and has a whole host of fears and general anxiety. It was only towards the end of November 2018 though that he developed his fear of his food and water bowls. (Possible firework in time with visit to bowl we think???) He now will not eat or drink from any type of bowl unless we lay with him and touch the bowl for reassurance. He tells us when he is thirsty by standing at the back door and looking back and forth at his bowl, but will not approach unaided. If we leave his side whilst eating/drinking and he realises he will get spooked and walk away backwards. We haven’t tried waiting it out yet as honestly don’t have the heart to starve him with everything he’s been through. He lives with 2 house cats and they all get on fine, and funnily enough he has on occasion gone to his bowl to drink if notices one of the cats at same bowl doing so. I’m currently considering anxiety medicine tablets but unsure of the success of potential side effects of these.

  140. Brittany

    Has anything been determined? My 8 1/2 year old lab mix is having the same issues and it just suddenly started happening. I read the comment about possible cataracts and the m feeling as though they are going into a tunnel. I haven’t noticed anything with his eyes but the same time his fear of bowls started occurring, he also seems to have a fear of going through the hallway now. I have to coax him and walk with him most of the time. It’s been very strange.

  141. Carolyn

    My 8-year old lab seems to have developed the same issue. I tried giving him water in a smaller bowl, which worked for a while, then, he is just knocking the bowl over, spilling the water on the floor. So, I tried a small, clear, glass bowl, which seems to be working for now. I see the video link and will post next time this happens. Thanks, Mr. Ask the Dog Guy and other contributors.

  142. My 6 yr old Yorkie is doing the same thing. Will not eat or drink from her bowls. I bought her new bowls about a month ago – red metal ones. She was eating out of them just fine and then all of the sudden stopped. She just stares at them and cries. I switched them out for the old bowls but it didn’t help. She is still just staring at them and crying. She’ll eat out of my hand.

  143. My 12 year old pomeranian has been scared of his water bowl for about a year. We can NOT give him a stainless steel bowl unless it has a LOT of iced cubes in it. I am not sure if he sees his reflection or what, but I have to put my finger in the water and shake it around for him to realize theres water in it. Also, I do have a couple ceramic bowls around the house that have a paw print in the bottom and a dark ring around the edge of the bowl, and he seems to be Ok with those. I know hes got cataracts, and I think he has a form of dementia also. Those are a couple of the things I do to make it easier for him…

  144. Our 4 year old rescue greyhound is doing the same thing with his food bowl. We’ve tried differnt types of bowls, moving the bowl, taking off his colar, etc. The fear seems to come and go with him, which is odd. He will even eat out of my hand while my hand is in the bowl. SMH. The only thing I’ve noticed is that he gets weirder about it when we are off schedule (whole family gone for the day or I’m out of town for the evening). I work from home and he’s quite the momma’s boy, so I think he gets separation anxiety (otherwise, he’s not afraid of noises, just dogs that bark at him), but he will act neurotic for a week or more after we’ve been off schedule for a day.

  145. My 2.5 year old mix (12 lbs) just started doing this too. She will eat off the floor but not from her bowls. She was fine with them for the past 2 years, but something changed recently. I can’t remember the timing, but it could be related to a bigger dog tag we put on her collar. Maybe it started hitting the metal bowls and she was scared of the sound? We’ve taken it off but she’s still scared (guess she’s easily trained!). I’ll video and send it to you.

  146. Charlotte

    Our 13 year old shih tzu developed a “fear” of her dishes 2 years ago. She had always been a skittish little dog, so we assumed this was just a symptom of old age for her. We took off her collar, so her tag would not hit the dish and startle her, but that did not work. I bought all types of dishes, and none really worked all that well. She would eat a bite, then quickly stepped back like something scared her. Over time, she began to bark at her dishes, wanting us to stand beside her while she ate. Then, she began waking us up at night, making a quiet growling sound. When we took her to the vet for the sleepless nights, we also told her all of her various strange behaviors (like her dishes, also sleeping during the day, then quickly jumping up like something startled her), the vet zeroed in on the problem immediately. She had a neck vertebrae problem. When she tried to eat or drink, sometimes her neck would “zing” her. Bless her heart, she had been in pain for 2 years and we had no idea! Please, please let your readers know to have their vets check their dogs’ necks!

  147. John,
    I have a 10-11 yo Staffordshire Bull Terrier (45lbs) that we rescued when she was 3-4. She has always been afraid only of her water bowl. She hunkers down and sneaks up on it like a panther, and barely gets a couple of drinks. As many have stated she likes to drink out of puddles while we are on walks.
    I always felt bad for her, but it never alarmed me until recently. We moved the water bowl location and she started having some very odd behavior weeks later. She was suddenly whining to go outside (she has a doggy door), but would go as soon as I would stand up and command her to go outside. She was pacing all night and keeping us up at night. Finally she wasn’t eating her food. If anyone knows anything about bullies, their number one priority is food. I started thinking of changes we had made and realized it must be the water bowl location. I got down a short clear plastic bowl and filled it with water and she lapped it up immediately. I repeated the process four times and she drank it completely each time. I think that she was so dehydrated that she was constipated and was getting loopy.
    I pulled their old tall clear plastic bowl out and put it outside in her favorite spot on the back patio. I think she prefers that because she doesn’t feel trapped and can run away if someone tries to sneak up on her. I am almost positive that hers is 100% from trauma, but being a rescue I will never know what that was.
    I just hate that a fear will keep her from doing something that is necessary for her survival and she would likely let herself perish if the drinking setup is too scary.
    I’ve noticed that you were working on a theory, so if you have any updates or would like a video I would be more than happy to assist in any manner possible.

  148. We are experiencing this same problem with our seven year old German Shepherd. We have always taken off his collar when he ate because he didn’t like the tags banging against the silver bowl. But the fear got worse after staying with our friends who watch our two dogs when we take trips, he was fearful of eating out of his bowl and would jump back if it moved, he doesn’t like the shadows or the reflection of the water bowl either. We think possibly his stand got knocked while he was trying to eat and it scared him pretty bad.
    If I hold his bowl for him he will eat out of it, and now he’s afraid to drink water out of all the silver bowls as well, but if I hold it for him he will drink out of it. He also now has a fear of the small flight of stairs that goes off of our deck into the grass in our backyard, I think because it makes a creaking noise. Should we try buying him a new food and water stand made of plastic?

  149. My 7 yr old Chihuahua( who is of the nervous type normally) just developed this fear/anxiety of the food & water bowl when I recently changed her bowls because they were gross and old. Both the old & new are ceramic with a slight change of size: the newer is smaller and white and not blue as her old one. This is the cause because she never did this until I changed her bowls. I threw them out and now it’s too late to fish them out of the trash. Ugh!! I got her to drink and eat by feeding her on the floor and scooping water out of her food bowl with a clean kool aid scoop.

  150. My 8 year old Yorkie Just suddenly started this behavior after a grooming session at a new place!! I’m suspecting maybe has something to do with her inner ear ….. not sure if this theory but will flush her ears with colloidal silver and see if it makes a difference… anti anxiety remedies have not worked

  151. I stumbled upon this page trying to find a way to help my 5 year old Great Pyrenees. I’ve had him since he was 8 weeks old and as a puppy he was never afraid of anything. Eventually he refused to eat out of his bowl, but he would still drink from one. Then came a time when he refused to drink out of a bowl as well. He will only drink out of a fountain in our back yard. If we go on day trips he will not drink anything. He will not drink out of a another fountain or a puddle. He licks ice if you hand feed it to him, but he won’t bite it. I’ve waited him out for days and I have yet to see him even once look like he might give in and eat or drink from a bowl.

  152. Chuck Finley

    Any luck with your theory? We have a 12-year-old 3 pound Chihuahua exhibiting the same behavior. Very good eater and drinker up until one evening would not approach the water dish. We have tried plates, dark bowls, trays, bottle feeders. He only has one eye and not great eyesight in the good eye. We thought maybe reflections in the water, even sound bouncing back from the water, drops of water going up his nose. He now wakes up several times in the night thirsty but still afraid of the water. Happy to provide more info or videos if needed. Any help is greatly appreciated!

  153. Hello. I know this is a pretty old post, but I thought I’d put in my two-cents.

    I have a 4-year-old chihuahua mix who has only recently been facing this issue. I theorize that her fear comes from a bad experience. We went on a long walk, and I overestimated her endurance and she hurt her paws. I think she may associate drinking water and her regular food with that experience, because I brought along food and water for the walk. She wouldn’t drink out of a bowl of any sort, but when I filled a syringe she happily, albeit a bit reluctantly, drank from that. In an attempt to get her hydrated, I also soaked her food in warm water, and she found that easy to eat, as well as some peanut butter.

    My poor baby isn’t feeling good, but I thought I’d use the opportunity to throw that out there. Maybe if a dog was hurt or scared while eating or drinking, they associate the activity with the experience?

  154. My Tibetan Spaniel always loved his food and water bowls, any kind, didn’t matter….until yesterday. I was glad to find your site and see the video that represented exactly what he is doing. He is four years old and has never done this. I was wondering if his back hurt and he didn’t want to bend down to eat. This morning I put his water dish on top of a paint can. He did drink from it at that height, but I could see he was still showing some nervousness.
    Thank you for having this forum. I still want to get to the bottom of this problem, but I don’t feel as panicked now that I see others have the same issue.

  155. John W Morrison

    A lot more poltergeists than previously imagined!

  156. Jeni Tran

    Hi John,
    Dis you ever come up with a solution to the problem of dog being afraid of bowl?
    I have an 11 year old yorkie that will not eat or drink out of her bowls. She waits by kitchen for water to be spilled on floor for her to drink. She is currently also eating off food placed on ground on top of saran wrap. Ice toed different bowls and plates but nothing has worked. This problem occured about 2 months ago when we brought home a newborn. We are not sure if problem was due to our 3 days of absence while in the hospital or due to the baby. We had our baby a few days after 4th of July but fireworks were still being heard where we live. Not sure if that has any relevance.
    Hope you have answers…

  157. Jennifer

    My situation is a little different as my 9 year old husky mix has been recently diagnosed with Cushing’s disease (normally caused by a tumor on the pituitary or adrenal gland and causes an over production of cortisol). Some sypmtoms of Chushing’s are excessive drinking and urinating, anxious behavior (heavy panting, pacing, etc.), loss of muscle strength, and an inability to lose weight. She has always had a healthy appetite and drank like a sailor but recently she started panting and pacing heavily, especially at night, and would constantly need to be let outside. It was like having a newborn in the house all over again! Even at “rest” she would be breathing extremely heavy. Finally after several nights of no sleep, I took her to the vet and after several hundred dollars the tests came back that she had Cushing’s. Unfortunately there is no cure for this disease but the symptoms can be treated. After some research I put her on a holistic treatment regimen. FINALLY her anxious behavior began to subside and she was mostly like her old self until recently when she stopped eating or drinking out of her food and water bowls. Again, she is pacing and panting in the night because she wants to be let out so she can drink out of the gutter, bird bath, puddles in the yard…anything she can find! The weird thing is, she avoids her bowls like the plague but WILL eat and drink from them if I HOLD THEM for her…this is nuts, I have no idea what might have caused her to avoid them. I have another dog who is 13 and she eats and drinks normally. I’ve tried to wait her out thinking if she gets thirsty/hungry enough she’ll give in and use her own bowls but the most she will do if take a few laps of water and run off.

  158. Hello,
    Are you still collecting videos? I have a 9 year old Golden Retriever that is scared of her water bowl, but not the food bowl. She has been this way for as long as I can remember, but eventually succumbs and drinks. Recently, she has gotten worse, to the point that she won’t drink all day while I’m at work and whines at me around 8 p.m. from near her water bowl and she will not drink unless I stand close. I know this is a comfort thing. She also trys to drink from the bathtub faucet when it is turned on and will jump on the countertop in the bathroom to drink from the sink. Years ago I gave in and would let her drink from the faucet, but it got to the point that that was her only source of water (which doesn’t work when you have a job and are gone all day). We transistioned out of that habit with a dog water fountain type bowl- but that eventually became “scary”. I have tried them all, different types of plastic, rubberized material, metal, glass & ceramic bowls… various shapes and colors… nothing helps. She will eat out of anything, even the exact same bowl as her water bowl. She will drink puddles and any rain water that she can find. She like to swim at the beach and in the pool, but I’m not convinced that she doesn’t get in the water simply to drink it. I’m constantly getting after her and worried about parasites. She loves ice cubes- so that is how we are surviving, but don’t even think about putting ice cubes in her water bowl… I’m at a loss. Any suggestions? THANK YOU!!!

  159. My 8 year old yorkie started this a few years ago. He is afraid of everything and squints his eyes or his eyelids go wild. He used to eat scraps off plates and lick peanut butter off spoons not you put a spoon by him he runs away so fast. His brothers eat off the plates and you can see he wants to but he just hangs back. I do not know where this sudden anxiety came from its the weirdest thing. I search the net for answers and not one.

  160. My problem is related to this but not exactly the same.
    I have an approx.. 12 year old female lab/chow mix that I adopted 10 years. She was an extremely fearful dog deemed unadoptable, sitting on death row at the local animal control.
    I rehabilitated her to the point where now she is basically a guard dog – by her own choice. She will fiercely alert when someone comes to the house.
    Mind you, I don’t think she would tackle any intruders. No signs of aggression.
    She’s an indoor dog with access to the back yard via dog door. So she is used to being in the house and all the various noises that come with it.

    The TV is pretty much always on when I’m home. About a year ago, I started noticing her getting up and pacing while I’m watching a show. Took me a while to figure out what makes her do it: the ever so slight hardly noticeable “ding” sound of an elevator. I never knew how many times the elevator ding background noise happens in TV shows, until she started getting up every time.
    In contrast, after a recent hurricane I had to rebuilt part of the wooden fence, with compressor powered nail gun. She was literally standing right next to me and I had to tell her off while operating that noisy nail gun, with the compressor blasting as well…
    And she will be right there when I’m outside with the noisy weed whacker. Again, I have to tell her to move.
    But the elevator DING scares her to the bones. And she has never been inside or near an elevator in her live.

    Her fear has slowly progressed to the point where now, as soon as I sit down on the sofa at night, she gets antsy and wants to go outside. Before I even turn the TV on.
    When I put down her stainless steel bowl for dinner and she moves it to where it touches the wall and makes a noise, she gets scared of that, too.
    She gets to clean up after the cats – they’re messy eaters and she gets the leftover wet morsels I out in front of her. When those bowls touch while she’s licking them clean, she’s scared of that noise as well.
    I’ve successfully rehabilitated her fears & phobias 10 years ago with clam leadership and positive reinforcement. Used the same approach on her for this but can’t snap her out of it.
    Nothing will work. Can’t even get her to touch her favorite treat.

    Any ideas?

  161. John Russell

    I have a puggle and she is Spoiled. She stays with me on the road and she is the only dog. She has a large kennel for the day and she eats when I do. She is not a year yet and has been spade and all shots up to date.

    When it is time to eat she sneaks up to the bowl and grabs a couply piece and jumps back and chews. this goes on till she is full or until she spills her food everywhere. I have changed bowls and sizes and area and so on. I have been told that it is her ears scare her but i dont know if that is true…..Any help and thanks…..

  162. I’m so glad I found this. Our 11 year old mixed breed (bichon/cavalier king charles) has always eaten the same food out of the same stainless steel bowls on a mat. A few months ago she started barking at her food. She’s a “grazer.” She never just chows down but nibbles on it. Takes a bite into another room usually where there are people and eats it there. That’s always been her M.O. Now she wouldn’t eat it. Washed the bowl. No good. Tried a plastic bowl. No good. If I dump it on the mat she will usually eat it. Now a week ago she started acting fearful of the water bowl. Usually if we dump out the water and refill it she’ll drink some. Then after a while she won’t drink it again. Tonight my husband offered her a couple of pieces of chicken in a plastic bowl. She literally trembled. But then she ate it out of his hand. She does kind of look glassy eyed like maybe cataracts might be starting. Wondering if elevating the dishes may help. I’ll try to take a video tomorrow and upload it.

  163. I’m so glad I found this. Our 11 year old mixed breed (bichon/cavalier king charles) has always eaten the same food out of the same stainless steel bowls on a mat. A few months ago she started barking at her food. She’s a “grazer.” She never just chows down but nibbles on it. Takes a bite into another room usually where there are people and eats it there. That’s always been her M.O. Now she wouldn’t eat it. Washed the bowl. No good. Tried a plastic bowl. No good. If I dump it on the mat she will usually eat it. Now a week ago she started acting fearful of the water bowl. Usually if we dump out the water and refill it she’ll drink some. Then after a while she won’t drink it again. Tonight my husband offered her a couple of pieces of chicken in a plastic bowl. She literally trembled. But then she ate it out of his hand. She does kind of look glassy eyed like maybe cataracts might be starting. Wondering if elevating the dishes may help. I’ll try to take a video tomorrow and upload it, if you’re still taking videos. Thanks!

  164. My dog, a Pomeranian Terrier mix, seems to have gotten worse about drinking from his water fountain after having gotten All his Shots a few months ago. When I first got him he was 3 months old and I noticed that he wouldn’t drink much water. He started drinking less and less. Then one day he lost control of his bladder but got most of if on the puppy pad, but there was a lot of blood in his urine. The vet gave him antibiotics and he needed to drink lots of water and was now refusing to drink period. Had x-rays done and they found that he had bladder stones and that was the reason for all the blood. I boiled a small chicken in a lot of water to make him unsalted broth to drink. He drank some but not enough. I tried switching bowls. Nothing. Talked to Chewy and the suggested a Water Fountain. So I got one. Well, he was scared to death of it. So I ignored him after explaining to him and and telling him that in order for him to live he needed water. After a couple of days he got all excited and wanted me to watch him drink from his fountain. Had no problems with him drinking after that for a long time. But now he’s scared of drink from anything. It all started after he got his shots a few months ago. He has been afraid of his food bowl before the shots a few months ago. He was afraid to eat his food out of his bowl. He’d be eating then suddenly he’d jump and take off running from his bowl. Tried different things. Finally after moving his food bowl to the living room he’s eating fine, but drinking is a big problem now. First he was afraid to go in the kitchen to drink and would paw at me to go with him to get a drink and I’d have stand there til he was done. He’d even wake me in the middle of the night to go with him for a drink. Now he won’t. I’ve tried putting a small bowl of water on the floor in the bedroom and he won’t touch it. I’m trying different containers and even have a bowl of water next to his food bowl and he won’t drink. I give him dehydrated meat bully sticks that require him to drink a lot cause they some how make him thirsty and he wants to drink but he drinks in great fear and not enough. I’m wondering if there was something in those vaccines that is causing him to be hallucinating. He can be standing anywhere in the house or even be just laying on me and suddenly he’d just jump out of his skin scared to death. And fireworks, oh he just practically shakes to death. New Years Eve he literally laid on me with my arms wrapped around him the whole time the fireworks were going off and he vibrated me to sleep. When it all stopped he woke me and he was wanting water but was still too scared to try and drink! So we went to bed without a drink til the next morning and he drank in fear jumping back and forth and never really finished drinking all he wanted. Very Frustrating!

  165. My 10 year old blind schnoodle has just recently started barking at his food and drink bowls (very annoying because he does this multiple times a day). He has stopped eating out of any type of container and I have to hand feed him. He will have one lap out of his water bowl and then acts like he’s been shocked and backs away from his bowl. Would love any sort of help you can offer please. I live in a very hot climate in Australia.

  166. My 6-year old rescue mongrel is exactly like that. We’ve had him for 5 weeks now and for the 1st 2 he refused to eat or ate partially which we put down to new environment stress. He’s always been quite a poor drinker so I add water to his wet food. Last week we got to a point where he refused eat or drink for 3 whole days!!! Was definitely dehydrated and we managed to get him back to a better place after painstakingly syringing water onto his tongue which he would lick up. After that episode, he started eating well, but was still not drinking from any of the water bowls in the house. We took him out to a park run with other dogs yesterday and he happily drank from the plastic container with water there! We thought it was the container and used the same in the house, but no go. He sometimes looks longingly at the bowls (I put 5 different ones all over the house) as if he wants to drink, then walks away. He’s gone back to not eating again today so I’m crazy worried now…

  167. linda kaplan

    my perfectly trained 4 year old maltese was boarded in a home with 3 small dogs. Boarder fed all dogs at same time from their own bowls with their own food. My dog gets a spoonful of pumpkin mixed in her food. Boarder said other dogs other dogs would eat her food, so she hand fed my dog. Now my dog is home and will not eat from her bowl. Ive tried changing bowls. Nothing works except putting her food on saran wrap on the floor. How do I get her to get back to eating from a bowl?

    1. Hi Linda,

      If that’s all it is (not a health issue) the answer is:

      How And Why To Switch From Free Feeding To Scheduled Feeding the answer to your question is the “This Is Not A Diner” approach.

      1. To make house training easier (Gastric Colic Reflex – what goes in on a schedule eventually comes out on a schedule.
      2. Encourage salivation (Nature’s toothbrush for dogs)
      3. To teach Nosey Dogs (John Wade’s program to provide dogs with a mental exercise that taxes your dog’s brain twice a day, every day for 10 – 20 minutes each while you’re getting ready for work or making your own meal.)

      “This Is Not A Diner” Approach

      1. Put food down for 2 minutes and no more. (Set your watch timer). Take it up.
      2. Put it back down for next scheduled feeding for two minutes and no more.
      3. No treats in between until the transition is complete (4 to 7 days)

      Dog’s water should be always available.
      Dog will likely miss a few meals. Consider it intermittent fasting. He or she will be fine.


      John ‘Ask The Dog Guy’ Wade
      Embracing Science and Common Sense


  168. I have a new, older rescue. She has been eating like a champ for the past week and loves going outside. A local pet store has a free “rescue adopting a rescue thank you” sampler box and she eagerly ate. whatever I put in her bowl. This morning, we went for a walk, as usual. But when we came back, she bolted from the food I gave her. I had put stew (from a reputable company) in with the hard food. I thought it smelled foul, but it’s dog food. All day she sniffed and searched the floor. I finally realized she was looking for for any food. She also refused to go for her evening walk. Finally, I enticed her with some tuna I tossed at her, then she ate out of my hand, and I eventually had to feed her the tuna mixed with the dry, by hand. In the end, she finally ate out of the bowl, but she was still afraid of the bowl, which I changed twice. We’ll see what happens tomorrow.

  169. I have a 9 year old Pembroke Welsh Corgi that started this about a week ago. She has always eaten her food with water in it, a week ago she refused to eat the food with water. She will eat food dry, just not with water. She is also refusing to drink water out of a bowl. She acts like she is afraid of it. I have tried different bowls (stainless steel, glass, plastic, etc). She will only drink water if it is poured on a shallow mat. I have also experimented with different types of water. She will not drink tap water (I think the city added something to it that she does not like), she will lap a little filtered tap water. I am having the best results with bottled water, but she still won’t drink that from a bowl. I am able to add a tiny amount of bottled water to her dry food…..but nothing like she used to get. For a background she was born in my house and lived here her entire life. She has shown in AKC conformation shows (she didn’t like showing but loves to be with me). She is currently competing in AKC Scentwork trials, loves it and is doing well at it. She does not appear to have any health issues (she had a check up June 5th). She had a dental in February or March and is not having trouble eating or chewing treats. It is just a sudden “fear” or water in her water or food bowl. I would love to know if you come up with a reason for this!!

  170. I have a 2 1/2 year old border collie that has no problem drinking from any bowl…eating treats out of a paper bowl…but her dry food she circles anx acts like she has to run and sneak the food…lol. I put her treats with it…changed bowls. Then my hubby gets her to eat it from his hand….she gobbles it up. So now she barks to get her food handed to her. I thought it was th he height and bought an elevated dog bowl set. She hates it. Refused to even eat treats in the new bowls. Help.

  171. At this point there are over 200 comments posted here from people have the same eating issue with their dogs. I’ll admit to not having read all of them, but I spent quite a while reading many of them; they mostly read very much like my experience: I have a 7 year-old bordercollie-lab cross rescue who came to us six years ago with serious anxiety issues (particularly scared of men in baseball caps, and louder, deeper voices; the latter is likely why he responds much better to my wife and daughter than to me, though he’s largely gotten comfortable with me over the years) who has lost his eyesight, and has become fearful of the sound of dried-food cookies in his bowl, and of the sound of the bowl moving on a floor. This isn’t the first time this has happened though, and both incidents seem to be associated with sudden changes in his vision.

    He is not a dog that had ever had eating issues; in fact, up until the incidents here, he could easily be described as “highly food motivated”. The first major eating issue happened about 2 years ago around the time that we noticed he had started bumping into things; he had been losing his eyesight for a while, and we had taken him to a sight specialist, so we understood what was happening to him. At this point, he could still see a little, especially in good lighting, around his periphery. One day he bumped his stainless food bowl though, and the sound of the bowl on ceramic tile (and perhaps the sound of the food in the bowl) made him skittish of approaching the bowl and food. We tried moving the bowl, different bowls, changing his food, wet food, etc., but no luck. We also took him to the vet to see if there might be any compounding issues, but there was nothing other than his eyesight. We found we could hand feed him a cookie at a time, but it was apparent that he had associated the fear with the food itself as well, so he was very reluctant to eat at all. After trying a number of things over a couple of weeks (maybe three?), I tried yet another bowl, this time a resin/plastic type with steep sides, and it seemed to help. He had been eating more or less fine since that time, except for the fact that he generally won’t eat (or eat much) until my wife gets home from work in the afternoon; then he gobbles the whole bowl at once and drinks two, sometimes three, bowls of water.

    A couple of days ago, his eating anxiety returned. My daughter says that he bumped his bowl again and cowered away from it. His eyesight had taken a sudden major loss in the last two weeks as well, and it seems he now can’t see much of anything anymore. At the moment, he will sometimes eat a little food if he is hand-fed, and if I keep my voice very quiet, or try to speak in a squeaky tone; sounds associated with his general anxiety are certainly a major part of the issue here (though he not afraid of loud noise in general, like thunder, fireworks, loud motorcycles, loud trucks, etc.). He will also drink water if we take it to him away from where it and his food normally reside. Again, I’ve tried different bowls (including trying to feed him using his water bowl), feeding him outdoors on the grass, on the driveway (both with/without bowls), but he seems again to have associated food (or perhaps just eating in general) with his fear, and that fear seems to have been triggered by the sound of bumping his food bowl.

    I don’t think anything I’ve said above adds much information to this phenomenon. My dog, and most others in the comments above seem anxiety-prone, often with vision problems, and have been triggered by sounds associated with food and eating (rattling sounds, and sudden, unusual loud sounds at extreme close proximity). I should add that my dog is extremely prone to routines; he adopts new routines at the drop of a hat; especially those associated with basic functions like eating and going to the ‘bathroom’. This susceptibility to routines is nothing new to him, and has benefitted him in adopting to his vision loss, but it may also contribute to the difficulty of getting him to return to eating after another food/eating-related scare episode.

    It’s hard to discern how common this issue is amongst dogs since a comment section like this is anything but a random population sample; most people will have found these comments because of searching for a solution posted on line, and so, many have found their way here. Considering the number of dogs in the world, the 200+ comments here are an extremely small portion of the population; not that that makes the issue any less serious for those of us looking for a solution.

    I will continue to seek a solution, but I expect it will only present itself over time as my dog adjusts once again to his sudden change in vision, our encouragement for him to eat, and his increasing hunger. Two years ago it seemed that the new resin/plastic bowl had been the solution, but now I’m more inclined to think that it had less to do with his recovery than I’d thought back then; I suspect time, encouragement, and hunger were the major factors in his recovery, since he is now afraid of that same resin/plastic bowl that seemed to help two years ago. It’s likely that the new bowl simply came along at a point where he was more receptive to it due to hunger and time.

  172. MaryAlice Patrick

    Wow, just now stumbling across John TDG. Very interesting thread. Very informative. I’ll admit I haven’t read all the comments yet, but will finish them up here after this post, and then on to exploring the content of this web page even more. So far, I’m impressed!
    My 5 year old minpin has recently refused to eat/drink out of a bowl as well. The only way she even touches water is if I syringe it into her mouth, or of I mix it into her food. She has been taken to the vet with dehydration because of this. All labs normal. I find it hard to believe she would manipulate the situation to the severity of dehydration. She is very good at communicating to me when she is thirsty. She looks at the water desperately. I can tell she wants to drink it so badly, but for some reason, she just won’t. Can’t? It’s like the idea of consuming water upsets her. If she sees/hears me pour some into her food, she won’t even touch her food… Which is very unusual for my little porker! Tap water from different sources, different types of filtered/bottled waters… It doesn’t matter! She has also had a few other “strange” things going on that my mama instinct is saying may be the result of an underlying neurological condition yet to be diagnosed. ): Knowing my dog, and seeing the desperate frustrated look on her face when it comes to drinking on top of the obvious dehydration… There’s no way she would fake or manipulate it to that extent.

  173. Melissa

    We have a 2yr old Golden Retriever Female, pick of the litter from a top breeder who had a big farm where the pups could play. She has had anxiety since day one. Afraid of new places, riding in the car, afraid of the dog park (when there are no dogs there), afraid of the edge of the road (dirt shoulder) on a walk, afraid of trees when the wind blows, afraid of the dark, afraid of a quiet house, afraid of the ice maker, doorbell, thunder, fireworks, shadows, open doors, water in her bowl, and food in her bowl. She physically trembles in fear and leaps into your arms or runs and hides in a closet. We have tried plastic, metal, and ceramic bowls. She prefers to eat off of paper plates and she will drink out of a hand held dog water bottle. This means I have to refill it and giver water every time shes asks for it. We tried waiting out. She refused food and water until she got a UTI and needed medical care. We tried anxiety meds. They just made her lay around and whimper. We tried professional behavior training and NOW we own a beautifully trained dog, who is still afraid of thunder, fireworks, and eating food or drinking water. Desensitizing training did help with “some” of the other fears, but nothing has fixed the food and water issue. It is exhausting. But, mostly just sad that she can’t enjoy her life because of fear. Is there a remedy?

  174. Cindi L Rettmann

    Hi John,
    It looks like most of this discussion took place a couple of years ago. I found it trying to look into my Lhasa Apso’ problem. She has just started barking & growling at her water bowls. Sometimes she’ll take a quick ‘dip’ into it but won’t drink. Just in the past couple of days she’s doing the same thing with her food. Almost runs away from it like she’s afraid. I’m wondering if you ever came to any conclusions or if you’re still looking into it. I’d be happy to video her when I can & send it to you if that might help. Thank you so much!

      1. Cindi L Rettmann

        I’m not sure if I was successful in sending you a couple of videos or not. I’m not real good with those type things. I’ll try again if I don’t hear from you or see it? Thanks again, Cindi

  175. Cristina Hazar

    I’m so surprised to see so many cases of dogs being afraid of their bowls! We adopted a mini goldendoodle puppy from a breeder about 6 weeks ago. She’s currently 17 weeks. When we got her the breeder said she liked to tip her food bowl over. I thought nothing of it but now it makes sense. She tipped it over so that the kibble would fall on the floor … because she’s afraid to eat out of her bowl! She will drink water just fine, out of any bowl, but not the kibble. I tried switching from metal to ceramic or plastic, nope. Finally I moistened the kibble with water and put some on the floor and she ate all of it. Poor thing is hungry but if the food is in the bowl she won’t eat it. She looks at it and backs off. She’s a strange dog, afraid of some things but then very ballsy with others. Currently she’s getting feisty so we are focusing a lot on training. She’s definitely an interesting dog and I just hope that she doesn’t turn out to be a problem dog because she’s our first dog and we love her so much. Good luck to everyone, if anyone can figure out the bowl issue, let us know!

    1. Hi Cristina,

      What happens when you use a bowl that is simply too heavy to tip? If she’ll drink out of an identical bowl it’s highly unlikely this is related to the ‘mystery’ cases that run through this thread. More likely in this case she’s got on a track that has been part her doing, part your doing. I can’t say for sure, but that’s one of the more common causes of this behavior.

      Sometimes when it’s a person’s first puppy they tend to get started off with ‘new mom – get it all right – syndrome’. Konrad Lorenz the ethologist touched on this topic and referred to it as ‘baby schema’. Puppies trigger these same nurturing, loving drives as do our own species young. However, the desire to nurture isn’t quite the same as becoming an actual parent. While new moms and experienced mothers love the child in question to death, once the day to day exhausting realities start to seep into actually having to get through even an average day, ‘new moms’ start to realize they need some additional tools beyond simply nurturing (keeping a child, clean, fed, safe, and feeling loved) in their parenting tool bag. The tool I’m thinking of in particular is the “I’m not asking you, I’m telling you.”, tool, and perhaps the ‘I’m your mother, not your maid’, tool. Is it possible she’s taking advantage of your sensitivity? You might not even notice it. If you live with other people what do they think?

      If this is the case, I suspect if you were to put her food in a bowl too heavy to tip and schedule 3 – 4 feeding times per day where she was given two minutes maximum and the food was removed, she’ll overcome whatever is going on between her ears. Might take a few days which will require some self-discipline and a bit of courage on your part I’m sure, but I think she’ll come around. If she wasn’t drinking fine out of the same bowl, I wouldn’t make this recommendation.

      If this is what’s going on, it doesn’t bode well for how your obedience training will pan out as this part of her life is a big part of how she figures out ‘who is the teacher’, and ‘who is the student’. I suspect you’ll end up doing a lot of working around behavior and ultimately impact the diversity and overall quality of her future life. Have a look at some of my training books, and avoid treat training with her. She needs a ‘mother’, not a ‘dealer’ to motivate her.

      – John Wade (

  176. Kaitlin

    My 2 year old golden retriever will not eat out of a metal bowl. We saw one day her collar caught on the bowl so I thought that was the reason why. So we used a heave wooden bowl and that seemed fine for a while but then she just stopped eating. My 7 year old put a few pieces on the floor and she ate them. Now we have to dump her foot on a placemat.

    I know this is an older thread but has there been any updates?

  177. Hannah-Jean

    There is a dog at the local shelter that was found stray and went 5 days without eating or drinking. He is a big Akbash mix and is absolutely terrified of any type of dish no matter the size or material. We finally got him to drink out of a large, square, shallow tupperware dish with a hand towel scrunched up in the bottom of it to disguise the bowl. He will not eat anywhere but off the floor. Even hand feeding is hit and miss. If I tipped the bowl up on its side and put hotdog pieces closer and closer he would get about an inch away from the bowl but that was it. He trembles if a dish of any kind is near him in any way. He went to the vet today. I will update on what the vet said as soon as I know.

  178. Karen Bethell

    I have some more details of our experience. Our shihtzu same issue. Darts in for a bite, then skits back. If you touch the bowl with your foot, she’ll come back in for another bite, but skits back again. Even leaving your foot doesn’t make her continue eating. We we were thinking it’s as if the food is invisible un less something touches it or slightly moves it…. So bizarre

    1. Hi Karen,

      This is interesting. What you’re describing sounds a lot like Resource Guarding (Canine Resource Guarding in a Nutshell). Does your Shih Tzu resource guard in any other contexts (treats, toys, “found” treasures, person)?

      – John “Ask The Dog Guy” Wade – Embracing Science and Common Sense

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