Why Do Dogs Bury Bones
Does your dog hide his toys on your blanket or you kept catching your dog burying bones in the yard? You might be wondering why he does this kind of behavior and where it is coming from. Many dogs have a heightened desire to hide things in safe areas and are often predisposed to bury items that belong to them, and sometimes things that do not.
This type of behavior is called “hoarding” or “caching” and is common among dogs, foxes, and wolves. Read on and learn the five reasons why dogs bury bones and other things, and how or if you should stop it.
- Reasons Dogs Bury Bones
- How to Stop Your Dog from Burying
- Frequently Asked Question
Reasons Dogs Bury Bones
With commercial food provided by their pet parents, domestic dogs do not need to hunt for food to eat and worry about their next meal since they know their food bowls will be replenished during feeding time. So, why do dogs bury bones? Because a dog’s natural instinct is to keep things in a safe place and keep it protected.
A dog’s urge to bury food may have developed due to their strong survival instincts inherited from the domesticated dogs’ wild ancestors such as the packs of gray wolf and wild dogs. Food is often hard to find so to make the most of their prey, these wild dogs would dig holes and bury the rest of the meat in the ground near their dens– like jewelry placed inside a safety deposit box.
Without a refrigerator in the wild, the best way to preserve the meat was to bury it. The dirt helps maintain the freshness of the bounty, which the dog buried, longer by keeping it away from direct sunlight. The temperature of the earth also declines with the depth of the hole. It also prevented other creatures from smelling and finding it, and “marinated” the food with the earth’s tastes. Hence, if you witness this seemingly ubiquitous behavior of your dog burying items in your backyard or garden, rest assured–they simply want to follow their natural instinct to bury their food.
A dog burying bone can also mean he is bored. When dogs aren’t getting enough mental stimulation, play, or have outlets to expel their energy every day, they may find their own ways (often more destructive) to keep themselves occupied. A fun game of quickly stealing your TV remote or your shoes and burying it is an example that your dog is also seeking attention.
Some dogs may bury items as a sign of anxiety or stress or because they’re lonely. Digging, in this case, can be a self-soothing behavior for them. For instance, a dog may bury his food if does not feel safe in the area he is fed in.
He will then eat his food later at a spot like behind your home furniture or a time that he feels more comfortable and safer. This behavior is commonly observed in multi-dog households, or in a puppy mill, where pups grew up in situations where resources are scarce.
A digging tendency is commonly seen in resource guarding, dogs are also protective animals that guard and watch the belongings they find valuable or special. Burying bones on the ground and other items can be a way for them to protect their treasure as well.
Their breed may also play a part. Some breeds are prone to digging and hunting than others. Cairn Terriers, for instance, were originally bred to chase and hunt small animals like squirrels who also bury their nuts. Other breeds like Dachshunds and Miniature Schnauzers may also have maintained their digging and hunting skills.
Keeping for the Future
Another reason for your question, “why do dogs hide bones?” is that they’re saving them for future consumption. If the competition in the scarce resources is only with other dogs within the pack, it wouldn’t have been that bad–especially when they found good, large meat that they couldn’t devour as a whole.
However, jackals, big cats, and hyenas–not to mention other animals–can also catch the scent of the kill and would want a shot at the leftovers. That’s why if the dog doesn’t want their spoils to be eaten, they need to learn how to be cunning and wait until the coast is clear for them to return to eating.
How to Stop Your Dog from Burying
Since you already understand the meaning and answer to the questions: Why dogs hide bones? And why do dogs bury stuff? that it comes from the dog’s survival instinct to save extra resources, you can curb the behavior if the digging is becoming an issue by destroying your garden using the following tips.
Limit What You Give
One of the issues of being a loving dog owner is that you’re probably giving your dog too much. Hence, you need to limit your dog’s access to his toys so they can only become interested in the toys you leave out for him.
Also, try not to provide any big treat or bone right after his meal. By limiting the quantity or providing variety, you may minimize your dog’s impulse to dig and save things for later. Be sure that you rotate the toys to keep things interesting and still fulfilling his needs.
Distract Your Dog with Another Activity
Note to owners: This tip will only work if you caught your pup in the act! If you find him digging a hole, re-direct what he’s doing to another activity. This could include participating in a training activity, provide him with another toy, or playing tug with you.
Any work that would break his urge to dig-as long as you’re not telling him to stop digging. While it might be clear to your pup that you don’t like it when they dig, they don’t know what you do want them to do instead.
Give Enrichment Opportunities
Digging might be your dog’s trick to get your attention due to boredom–especially if he is only provided limited activity and their owners are busy. But if your pup is not bored, you may not have to deal with the digging problem. Enrich your pet by taking him for walks or play some nose walk.
The additional mental and physical stimulation will help ensure your dog doesn’t even have time to dig. But if your pup really seems to enjoy the hide-and-seek aspect of burying, you can turn it into a trick where the dog “buries” a bone or toy on cue in a pile of pillows or piles of laundry. Then give it a signal to retrieve. This turns into a game you and your pet can play together without having them destroy your yard.
Frequently Asked Question
Is burying harmful?
No, burying is not harmful. Burying treasures–both food and non-food items–is a natural tendency for canines . However, if the dog digs constantly that could create problems. Some compulsive canines will dig until their paws become sore and raw. If their paws are exposed to chemicals in the soil, they could get injured as well.
These types of dogs require behavioral and medical intervention by your vet. Also, keep in mind that even though dogs like to bury bones, pet parents should not offer them bones in the first place. Even though their wild canine ancestors ate carcasses, domestic dogs may suffer from dental or intestinal problems if they eat bones. So, place an appropriate amount of food in your pet’s bowl twice a day and chalk up his tendency to bury items to his ancestral heritage.
Do dogs remember where they buried their bones?
It depends. If your dog is a prolific, serial hoarder, they may forget over time where they buried their bones or treasures, particularly if they have a large space to cover. This is especially true for treasures that the dog may not have a scent trail on like his toy. Then again, dogs may locate bones and other food items easily even if they may not “remember” specifically where they put them. This is due to a dog’s strong sense of smell that is 10,000 to 100, 000 times stronger than humans so they may not remember where they buried their objects but they will surely find them if they just use their noses.
Why do dogs bury other things aside from bones?
Dogs may bury anything they consider valuable, not just bones. That’s why if dog owners want to enjoy reading their favorite e-book, they may sit on a sofa and feel a chew toy beneath the seat cushion. Or sometimes, when their favorite show is about to start, they may also find the TV remote nestled under their pet’s bed.
Although some canines are more compulsive with this behavior, many of them are essentially hoarders and tend to bury things. They simply want to save these precious items in a safe place so they can relish them later. However, experts warn that if the dog becomes obsessed with hiding food or his toy–to the point that they do it for long periods of time or you can’t interrupt them–then you may need to consult your vet as this could be an obsessive-compulsive component to their burying.
So, why do dogs bury things? It’s simply a natural instinct a dog inherited from its canine ancestors to fend off starvation. Bear in mind, burying behavior can occur for a horde of reasons, and motivation can include anxiety, boredom, and the natural urge to hide objects in safe places. So it’s normal behavior for dogs. However, if you have trouble stopping Fido from burying things outside, seek advice from your veterinarian.