Many dog lovers are stumped by one simple question: why do dogs hide bones? Oftentimes, dogs will bury bones, toys, and treats in the yard. You might even find them trying to hide objects in piles of laundry or in the couch cushions. Despite your best efforts, it might be difficult for you to train them otherwise, but that’s because burying is more than just an annoying habit. For many dog parents, it can be irritating and confusing when dogs do this and don’t listen, but the reasoning behind it is actually very simple.
Why Do Dogs Hide Bones?
A big part of this behavior has to do with your dog’s instincts. In the wild, wolves and wild dogs don’t like to waste food. They know that they might not be able to find meat every day, so if they catch something when they’re not hungry, they need to find a way to preserve it. So, they bury their extra food in the dirt to hide it from other animals. When food is buried, it also doesn’t go bad as quickly since it’s protected from the sun. It’s like a dog’s way of storing leftovers in the pantry.
Then, whenever wild dogs are hungry again, they can return to where they buried the food. To them, it’s just as tasty as it was before. Even though dogs are fed regularly by their humans today, they still have some of these instincts in them. Even though they know you’ll always feel them, they might still feel the need to save extra food and treats simply out of habit.
Some breeds will likely show these instincts more than others, such as hunting dogs. Hunting dogs often have a strong desire to hunt prey, which relates to their habit of hiding bones and other objects. Dachshunds, Beagles, and Basset Hounds are some of the many dogs that are more likely to hide bones.
Why Do Domesticated Dogs Still Do This?
Domesticated dogs should have no problem getting plenty of food to eat. After all, any good dog parent will probably feed them at consistent times each day, along with some additional treats on the side. However, even if your dog has a full belly and a comfortable life, they might still have an urge to bury bones and hide snacks.
While it could just be because of instinct, there are usually more causes for excessive digging and burying around your home. A common reason dogs hide food, treats, and bones is because they’re being overfed. Of course, many families love to spoil their dogs, so they might be guilty of giving their pups too many extra treats and table scraps. So, if you give them a snack and they try to hide it, it could be because they’re full and they want to save it for later.
Oftentimes, dogs bury things for fun too. They will hide objects in order to get your attention so you’ll play with them more. This could result in them hiding some of your belongings rather than just their own toys and treats. If this occurs, it’s likely that they’re seeking your attention and looking for more playtime. Dogs don’t hide objects for no reason, so it’s usually their way of telling you something.
Burying bones could even be a sign of stress or anxiety for your dog. Some dogs don’t handle being left alone well, so if they get scared or anxious, they might hide things without thinking it through. So, if you come home to find that some of your items are missing, make sure you check your couch cushions and laundry baskets. If your dog was rescued from a scary situation, such as an abusive owner or a puppy mill, they’re more likely to show these signs of stress.
When dogs misbehave, most dog parents scold them without a second thought. However, dogs tend to respond best to positive reinforcements instead of punishments. This is especially true for hiding bones since it is an instinct and not necessarily them acting out.
Can You Stop Your Dog from Hiding Bones?
There are a few ways to stop your dog from hiding bones, and it depends on the reason they seem to be hiding them. If you think it has to do with the amount you feed them, then consider their serving sizes. Oftentimes, the cause is too many treats, but if you cut back on their snacks, you might still notice them burying things.
So, consider how much you feed them for each meal. Dry dog food brands often list higher serving sizes on the bag than necessary, so it’s better to adjust servings to your dog’s specific size, weight, age, and activity level rather than blindly following a brand’s suggestions. After all, the more food you serve your dog each day, the more dog food you’ll be buying. Oftentimes, if you choose a healthier brand of food, their serving sizes will be a bit more accurate.
Dogs that hide bones also might need more attention. They might be bored and trying to find a way to express themselves. So, make sure you give them regular exercise, mental stimulation, and playtime to keep things interesting for them. Dogs that don’t get enough attention have to find other ways to entertain themselves, and oftentimes, their new hobbies are not so fun for their parents.
If you’ve tried everything you can to steer your dog away from their burying habits, then it might be time to talk to a professional. A vet or dog trainer might be able to give you additional help and pointers about how to prevent your dog from burying things. It’s not the worst behavior they could develop, but many people are bothered by it.
So, if you’ve ever wondered, “why do dogs hide bones?”, now you know the truth. Your dog’s behaviors are not just a way to annoy you, but instead, they’re part of your dog’s instincts and ancestral needs. Therefore, you should always think twice before scolding your dog for burying objects throughout your home and yard.