Dog Bobbing Head Around Food Bowl – [Bowl Behaviors Guide]

If you ever had a dog or dogs, you must have noticed that some of them bob their head over the food bowl or around it. You might find this strange behavior that came out suddenly, or they have been doing it for a long time. Usually, head bobbing or tipping over their food starts from the age of 6 months and can continue till they are three years old. It might seem like a problem, but this is normal behavior that occurs for many reasons, some of which are answered in this article. 

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What does a Dog Bobbing Head Around the Food Bowl Mean?

Dogs sometimes bob their heads around their food, commonly found and observed in some breeds. It can be because they have developed a habit of doing it since they were small, like circling before sleeping, but if they do it out of the blue, it can have some other reasons. 

Reasons Behind Your Dog Bobbing Head Around the Food Bowl

It is often a routine that your dog has established when it is preparing to eat. However, if your canine is older than three years, then it can be one of the following reasons: 

#1. Idiopathic head tremors 

These tremors occur out of the blue, and some breeds, such as Boxers, Doberman, Bulldogs, and mixed breeds, have head tremors. The medical cause is not yet known for these tremors, but sometimes it can be due to other reasons such as : 

  1. Low sugar levels – Dogs can also suffer from low sugar levels, which can cause head bobbing. The simple way to treat this is to rub honey or corn syrup on your dog’s gums. Mainly, low sugar levels occur in lactating dogs. You need to ensure that if your dog is in the period, you don’t have to worry, but if not, you probably need to visit the vet.
  2. Calcium deficiency – If your dog is not lactating, the reason behind head bobbing might be calcium deficiency. You can treat this with a supplement or the chewable calcium bones for dogs but first, reach out to your vet for any other calcium supplements.
  3. Medications – If your dog is on any medication, especially heartworm medication, the head bobbing might occur. You must visit the veterinarian and ask the doctor to recommend other medicines for your dog.

#2. Intuitive reasons 

Yes, there might be chances that your dog is tipping food bowls or bobbing its head around due to other reasons which are not at all related to health but are entirely intuitive. Some of the reasons for it are : 

  1. Smell or sound from the bowl – It can happen anytime while they are eating or before they are going to eat their food. Your dog might not like the smell of metal from their bowl or the food, or it can happen because the collar makes noise while eating. It happens way too commonly with a food bowl.
  2. Playfulness – If you are not giving your dog enough attention, they will start playing with their food bowl. Your dog can tip over or bob its head around it. It often indicates boredom when you don’t give enough time to your dog. The pup can also take food out of the bowl and try to hide or bury it, a standard behavior noticed with head bobbing.
  3. New dog – If you recently bought a new dog or puppy, your old dog might act up trying to protect its food from the new pup. This behavior involves head bobbing in most cases and being protective of their food.

Your Dog Needs Special Care. 

If you have a boxer breed or bulldog who suddenly starts doing head bobbing, you might relate it to a seizure, but that’s not the case. Head bobbing is not associated with the incoming episodes, and because they don’t have any relationship, any medication for seizures will not work for head bobbing. Head bobbing is entirely normal and should not be exaggerated at any point. But if your dog starts to faint and becomes unresponsive at any point, it can be because of a neurodegenerative disorder.

How Do You Treat Head Tremors in Dogs?

There is no treatment to treat idiopathic head tremors as of now. However, these tremors are often confused with epileptic seizures. In such cases, your vet may prescribe phenobarbital to overcome seizures in your dogs. This medicine doesn’t treat head tremors; its long-term usage can affect your dog’s liver. 


Head bobbing might seem normal, but if it gets frequent, like ten times in 2 hours, you need to see a vet. It can either be a health issue, or your dog has picked up the habit of doing it. Some of the key takeaways are :  

  • You must be more cautious if your dog is older than three years and has experienced head bobbing.
  • You must be careful about the medication you give, as it might cause the head to bob.
  • If your dog is lactating or facing hormonal changes, it should be because of the low glucose levels.
  • If not a health issue, it must be because of the smell, taste, or sound of the food bowl
  • Your dog wants to be playful and is getting bored because of the less span of attention they are getting.
  • If none of the above, you might need to be extra careful and observe the dog, and if it gets frequent and starts to lose consciousness, you should consult a vet, and he may run a few tests to know the reason. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Why does my dog move his head around his food bowl?

If your dog bobs his head around the food bowl, paws at its dish, or pushes food with its nose – it means your dog is in a playful mood. Your dog is seeking your attention.

What causes head bobbing in dogs?

The possible reason for head bobbing in dogs can be idiopathic head tremors. It can also be due to any intuitive reasons, including the weird smell or sound of the food bowl or the playful mood of your dog.

How long does idiopathic tremor last in dogs?

Idiopathic tremors in a dog can last from a few seconds to several hours. However, most episodes last no longer than five minutes. The tremors can occur while the dog is sleeping, standing, or resting.

How to tell if your dog is having a seizure?

Your dog is having a seizure if it shows any of these symptoms:

  • Become unsteady and have trouble in walking or balancing.
  • Collapse, stiffen, or fall to the side.
  • Lose consciousness
  • Drool or foam at the mouth
  • Lose body function controls and urinate or defecate
  • Chomp or make biting motions.
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Hi, my name is Dave. I am the founder of You will find all the vital information about dog food here. Our team has a straightforward aim, to help you make the right decisions about dog food for your furry friend. We will keep posting more fact-based dog nutrition & food-related content. Please give your support & love.