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Busy Paws and Buried Treasures

At A Glance

Dogs bury bones for several reasons. They’re descended from hunting gray wolves, so it’s in their DNA. Other reasons why a dog buries bone and anything else that catches its fancy include:

  • They’re saving it for later
  • They’re just bored
  • They’re in the mood for it
  • Their breed is prone to it
  • They are anxious

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You’ve probably seen your pup do it — gnawing on a bone and then burying it in random places, like in a burrow or under a pillow. It’s normal for dogs to do this. It’s not an apocalyptic warning or a severe behavioral syndrome, so there’s no reason to fret.

So, if you’ve been noticing this behavior and wondering, “why is my dog hiding his bone”, this article will help shed some light. Dogs have various reasons for doing this, but let’s focus on the most common ones.

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It’s Food Caching

Why do dogs try to bury bones? Much like other mammals and birds, dogs stash their leftovers for later, or like the famous phrase — for a rainy day. Consider it proof that dogs really are a wise bunch!

Dog owner Ed Elford observes, “It is their way of storing excess food.”

Let’s not forget — dogs were once wild animals. They are descendants of canids — a family of animals like wolves and red foxes known to cache. In the wild, animals live from one meal to the next. So, they would naturally save any excess food they find.

While our pets don’t have to go looking for food, this inherent trait can still be seen in many dogs. A dog buries bone just like humans stack food in their pantry.

Florida-based professional dog trainer and behavior consultant Teoti Anderson shares the same view, “A dog buries something to save it for later.”

A Break From The Monotony

Why do dogs bury bones or appear like they enjoy doing it? Surprisingly enough, just like humans, dogs can also get bored stiff and look for or even improvise an activity to shake off the lethargy.

They bury bones for the sake of having something to direct their energy to. It allows them to be distracted from their doldrums, get active, and entertain themselves with their bone and burying skills.

Digging dirt up and burying something under its pile can mean a dog doesn’t have much else to do. For pet parents, this is a sign that you need to engage and play with your dog more. It can be an indirect call for playtime or some physical activity.

Channeling Their Inner Wolf

Why do dogs bury rawhide bones? Well, it’s in their nature to bury bones because their ancestors were hunting wolves that buried the remains of their prey or stashed them in their lair.

A 1976 study published in the journal Ethology noted that dogs’ progenitors (canids such as wolves) were “scatter hoarders.” They would hunt and then hoard the bones and leftovers in various hideaways. Even young wolves would cache food to save it from their siblings. They would bury bones or carcasses under the dirt to camouflage the smell of meat, making it hard for other animals to find their stash.

Did You Know? According to published research, a dog’s sense of smell is about 10,000 to 100,000 times more powerful than that of humans.

But, why do domestic dogs bury things? Despite having regular access to food, dogs still have a knack for burying treats because it’s ingrained in their DNA.

“Dogs are descended from wolves, and they will sometimes bury food, toys, and other favorite things to hide them for later”, pet owner James C Hughes shares in agreement.

Their survival street smarts make them feast mindfully on a kill, saving some now to avoid starving later.

A Lingering Instinct

Why do dogs bury bones in bed? Or under the couch? They just have to do it, it’s like a natural response to stimuli. Veterinarian Dr. Chyrle Bonk from Idaho claims, “Dogs bury bones mainly out of instinct.”

Dog owner Anderson Moorer agrees, “When a dog has something in their possession they want to bury, they feel anxiety.”

It’s an innate feeling in dogs that they respond to so they don’t feel ungratified. They instinctively do it, often for no reason at all and simply because they feel like doing it.

cute dog burying his bone

A Way to Cope with Anxiety

You may be surprised to learn that burying or hiding bones, toys, or random objects like the TV remote is also a way for dogs to relieve their anxiety. So, why do dogs hide bones and other things, especially when it’s noisy or chaotic around them? It may be because they’re feeling stressed or anxious.

When a dog is abandoned, exposed to loud noises, or around unfamiliar people, it develops restlessness. Holding on to a bone or any object and burying it can help assuage the tension and helps them with their disquiet.

They Just Like The Bone So Much

Just as humans keep their favorite shoes, perfume, or jewelry somewhere safe and private, dogs also like to keep their prized possession safe. That’s another answer for why do dogs bury bones they treasure. If your dog likes a bone a lot, it will likely want to cherish it and keep it away from others’ reach.

“The general thought is that burying treasured objects is an extension of natural caching behavior seen in other canids, like wolves, coyotes, and red fox”, says Leslie Sinn, DVM, and Founder of Behavior Solutions, VA.

Dogs don’t mind the time and effort involved in burying a bone because it’s their way of preserving something they love. When we like something, we try to keep it with us as long as possible. And dogs are no different.

Their Breed is More Prone To It

Your dog’s breed might play a significant role in its burying behavior and can be traced back to its roots. According to Dr. Bonk, “Hunting breeds, like Dachshunds, actually tend to bury bones and toys more than herding breeds.”

Dogs that are bred to hunt or chase tend to bury their find. Even domesticated dogs of hunting breeds are prone to this behavior.

dog digging

How To Stop Your Dog From Burying Excessively?

Your dog burying random things in your yard is not really a cause for concern. But, if it goes overboard with this habit and you start finding your AirPods under a pile of laundry or an expensive shoe sticking out of the mud in the backyard, it can be bothersome.

No amount of yelling will help. If anything, it will only add to your dog’s stress and may trigger the behavior even more.

So, how do you address it? There are a few positive and playful techniques you can use to curb your dog’s burying habit.

Play Games

Most dogs have a lot of energy. And when they don’t get enough exercise or playtime, they can get a bit stir-crazy, leading to behaviors like burying bones. Your dog may even be doing it to get your attention. Set aside at least an hour of playtime or outdoor activity like playing fetch or going hiking to help release your dog’s pent-up energy.

Offer A Chew Toy

Instead of obsessing over a bone and burying it like crazy, a chew toy can be a good alternative for your dog. It will not only soothe their urge to bury bones but also give their jaws some exercise. Consider dental chew toys to help with your pet’s oral health.

Limit Access To Toys

Sometimes, dogs tend to hide some of their toys, knowing they have a lot of them. Try limiting your pet’s access to toys to curb their burying tendencies.

dog burying its bone

Frequently Asked Questions

Should I Let My Dog Bury Bones?

As long as your dog is not harming anyone, there’s no compelling reason to stop it. But if it starts to bother you, you can apply some of the abovementioned tips to help control your pet’s squirreling ways.

What Does It Mean When A Dog Buries His Bone Next To You?

If your dog is stashing its bones near you, it probably means it sees you as a safe place and wants to share its prized possession with you.

Why Do Domestic Dogs Bury Things?

Our pet dogs may live a pampered life, but it’s still rooted in their nature to bury things since they belong to the gray wolf lineage. They also do it for other reasons like out of boredom, storing treats for later, cherishing their prize, or to cope with anxiety.

What Breed Of Dog Hides Things?

Hunting breeds have a penchant for burying bones. These include Dachshund, Beagle, Terrier, Border Collie, Miniature Schnauzer, Basset Hound, and Siberian Husky.

 

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Paul Andrews
https://www.linkedin.com/in/paul-andrews-172490189/

A digital marketing expert by profession, Andrews is a gifted writer and animal lover at heart. A self-confessed "pawrent", Andrews is well-versed in all things dogs. He uses his years of experience of raising puppies into show-quality dogs to help guide first-time pet parents. He believes in spreading the joy that comes with being a dog dad and advocates more families to adopt pets.