Why Does My Dog Dance Around His Treats? – Answered

Domesticated dogs nowadays retain many traits held by their wild ancestors – and these include playing with or dancing around their food.

Why does my dog dance around his treats?  There are at least three reasons why your dog seems to enjoy dancing around his treats before eating them, ranging from its very nature to protecting its food from others.

Wild Instincts

Today’s dogs are considered more passive compared to their wild relatives. But a dog who loves to dance around his food before he starts eating it is basically emulating his undomesticated ancestors’ feeding practices.

During the olden times, wild canines have to use their stalking and hunting skills to survive and live. Feeding time is considered a pack ritual, where you have individuals assigned with particular roles and responsibilities to make sure the hunt is a successful one.

Each kill needs deep mental concentration and physical prowess such as running.

Today’s domestic dogs do not have these instincts as sharp as their forebears, as they do not have to hunt for food to live. But your canine pet appreciates more stimulation compared to what many households provide.


Whatever their size or breed is, dogs get bored if they do not get adequate exercise.

When they get bored or do not have enough exercise, dogs tend to conduct undesirable behavior. For instance, your pup may look at spilled food around his meal as a new game to play – and this act might catch your attention.

Try giving your pup 30 additional minutes of exercise and play. Your pet may have less energy dancing around his food and think more about his appetite.

It’s the Scent

One plausible and very likely motive for why many dogs play with their treats is to get their scent. Studies have shown that their sense of smell is at least 40 times greater than humans.

As a result, dogs would often mask themselves with the scent of their food, treat, or waste. You might even see your dog sometimes rolling around over his food or treat – a good sign that your pet is trying to pick up the scent of the treat. Even if we humans cannot smell the new scent of our dog, he and other canines can.

Here are some ways how you fix the problem

Exercise First Before You Feed

Why do dogs like to play with their treats? One reason is that they do not have a fixed schedule for exercise and feeding time.

You must offer your dog meals at specific times after exercise, as this will help him release some of his energy and later fully enjoy his meal. This will also provide some feeding structure by simulating what wolves usually experience: exercise, then feed later.

You can start by checking the daily routine of your dog. Do you walk him, or does someone from your family walk him every day? Does your dog have enough time to play around and dispense his energy?

For many dog breeds, at least one hour of exercise or physical activity is needed daily. Aside from his regular exercise, you can start giving him at least 30 more minutes of play.

Once you start doing this, your dog may have less energy for playtime when his meal arrives. He will then focus on eating his food.

For dogs, working for their food tends to be the natural order of things. So, for them, going for a quick run or walk just before breakfast seems more natural than eating their meals first and then exercising later in the day. Even short and straightforward games like fetch can work wonders.

Dogs are simply protective of their food and treats – which they consider their resources – and thus merely want their scent on the food so other animals would not take them.

Encouraging the Behavior

Your dog should understand: mealtime is entirely different from playtime.

You do not want your pet dog dancing around with his treats or spilling his food. After all, you spent some good money on dog feed.

Quality Time is the Key

Your pet could also be dancing around with his treat because he may feel he is now the pack leader and, therefore, can make his own rules. 

Remind him of the group pecking order with you as his owner by spending more quality time with your pet. Spending some quality time with your dog may help reduce any anxiety or worry he has about being left at home with no one to play with or he is not part of your group. 

This quality time should be considered different from the regular playtime. Giving your pet some good attention will help foster a bond between the two of you that establishes respect.

A higher dose of physical and social affection would tell your pet that as his human, you are his protector and that they would be more than willing to comply with the direction you want to go moving forward. 

Some quality time is needed, especially when you want your pet dog to change his behavior. You must increase the levels of affection and care towards your dog so that he would not misconstrue your actions as malicious or, at the very least, questionable.

Other Tips

High-energy canines, as well as intellectual ones, may benefit from additional brain stimulation. If you have the right tools, you can make your dog’s feeding time an excellent mental workout.

For instance, you can get feeding toys and games in pet supply stores that can help stimulate your pet dog’s brain. Food cubes that can dispense food when your pet rolls it in some way can be a good brain stimulation toy, to begin with. Once your pet begins to think he needs to work for his food, he may be more interested in eating it than just playing with it.

If you own more than just one dog, then you might want to think of feeding them in separate rooms that cannot be accessed by the other. It is also not recommended that you stand over your pets guarding their food, ensuring they eat, and not dance around with their treats to maintain peace. 

Some dogs begin prancing around in excitement when they see their human owners setting up their food bowls. If your pet gets emotionally aroused during mealtimes, you might consider ushering him first out of sight and smell before you start preparing his food so you can help tone down his stress levels.

You might also want to check if your dog if it needs specific nutritional needs. If you are not sure of the correct dietary requirements, it is best to consult with a veterinarian as soon as possible.

A veterinarian may be able to give you the right amount of food quantities your pet dog needs on a day-by-day basis. The veterinarian can also give you details on the best type of food for a particular breed.

If you are having a hard time taking your pet on his regular walk or run and he is getting bored most of the time in the house, you might want to attain the services of a professional dog trainer.

A professional dog trainer will be able to advise you on the proper exercise regime that matches your pet to make sure he is healthy and satisfied enough to prevent throwing his food around.

Final Thoughts

Sure, dogs dancing around with their treats may look cute, but you should always keep in mind mealtime and playtime are two different things altogether. These activities should never overlap.

Do not forget to exercise your dog; give him enough time to play around before feeding him.

Do not also forget to check with your veterinarian, as some dog breeds tend to be more susceptible to

bloating, which may prove to be fatal and is sometimes a result of eating too soon after intense exercise or strenuous physical activity.

If you need some help in exercising your pet dog, consider getting a professional dog trainer. After all, your canine may need a proper exercise regimen not only to get fit but also to avoid dancing around with his treats.


Why do dogs play with their treats?

Maybe they get their playtime mixed up with mealtime. That should not be the case. Dogs can be trained to play only during their playtime hours and eat their meals during mealtime.

Why does my dog hide his treats?

Your pet dog probably hides treats in areas where it thinks other dogs or animals cannot find them. Sometimes, your pet may even signal to ask for your help to keep his treats.

Why does my dog throw his bone in the air?

It is probably out of boredom. It may have too much time doing nothing. 

Why does my dog throw his food out of his bowl?

Arguably, this is something due to instinct. Our dogs bear this natural pack mentality, snagging a piece of his meal instead of fighting it out with other competitors.

Why does my dog roll on his treats?

Your pet may be rolling in its treats in order to hide scents and also as a way to communicate. In the olden days, wolves often roll in the food to tell their pack about the location of a food source. Companion dogs have adopted this behavior.


  • Brad

    Hi I'm Brad, the founder of bulldogpapa.com. Having been a vet of 6 years I work alongside our team to provide valuable insight into your dog's health. I have a frenchie myself named Senzu who is my pride and joy!