Why does my dog bury things?

Lots of pet dogs like to bury all sorts of items, not just bones.  But why do they do it?  Holidays4Dogs investigates why dogs like to hide their prized possessions from treats to cuddly toys.

When dogs bury things either in the garden or under the cushions on the sofa they are following their ancient instincts to bury excess food and hide it from scavengers.  By burying food in the soil it also keeps better than it would do if it were left out in the sunlight, but it also ensures that other animals can’t smell the meat.

Long before dogs were domesticated they had to hunt for their food which took up a great deal of energy, so hiding any left over meat would help the dogs through leaner periods or after an unsuccessful hunt at a later date.  Wolves and foxes display similar sorts of behaviour and this is known as ‘caching’

Despite the fact that dogs are now domesticated and generally, if they are much loved pets, want for nothing, this doesn’t always remove their instinct to bury things and it could be anything from your best leather shoe to their favourite toy.

Sometimes burying things is an activity a dog engages in because he is bored or frustrated or because he simply wants you to play with him.  I once had a Labrador who would push his tennis ball underneath the sofa in order to encourage me to retrieve it, so he could repeat the process again – usually during an interesting television programme!

However, if your dog has a habit of burying treats or food, it could be that you’re providing him with too much, so burying food he has been given him may indicate he is not hungry enough to eat it – but is saving it for later!

Sometimes, dogs with a shy nature may bury their food because they prefer to eat alone – when there are no signs of danger.

Burying things is perfectly normal behaviour, however – although it could be somewhat annoying if your dog has a penchant for hiding the t.v. remote control.  Burying food is also not normally a sign of health problem because dogs that are sick will generally ignore their food altogether, let alone have the energy to bury it.

Certain breeds are perhaps more inclined to bury things than others; hunting dogs and terriers for instance are often usual candidates, but it really depends on your dog’s individual personality and environmental factors.

A. Gordon.