Does your dog bury the bones or toys that you give him in the backyard? Or does he bury stolen socks under your bed or in the couch cushions?
Why do dogs bury bones? I’m sure you wonder why your dog digs holes in your garden, and it’s pretty simple. Dogs have a natural instinct to bury and hoard. But, where does it come from? Here are a few explanations why your dog likes to dig and bury goodies in odd places.
The ancestors of domestic dogs are the gray wolf and wild dogs (1). Both animals live on a diet where they either feasted or starved. While they did need to eat meat every day, it wasn’t always possible to obtain it. So, when they did find it, they would forge themselves because they knew it might not happen again for several days.
This type of eating also taught them not to waste their food, and also the need to bury some in the dirt for those days when they were starving. Through the process of burying food in the dirt, the meat lasted longer since the dirt protected the food from the sun and prevented it from going rancid. The wolves and wild dogs were then able to return to the burial spot where the preserved food could be found and eat it on those lean days.
Your Dog’s Natural Instinct
Your dog obviously still has the same instincts as the dogs before thet, even if they are fed every day. While they don’t have to, they will still have the urge to hunt, herd, and bury their food. Some dogs do it more than others, but it’s possible for all dogs to display this behavior, although dogs in the sporting categories tend to do it more.
When a dog buries bones it’s a type of “food caching”, which means storing the available food supply for later access. It’s typical behavior in mammals and birds while domestic dogs have inherited the instinct from their canine ancestors. Even wolves are known to occasionally bury their kill’s remains.
These days, a dog doesn’t need to store their food because they have loving owners that feed them the best dog food. But the natural urge to bury things away for later is still there.
Plus, the need to bury things doesn’t always have to do with the storage or protection of their food. It can simple by a way for a dog to savor their cherished objects until they can enjoy it again later. Bored dogs often bury items while anxious dogs use it as a way to relieve stress.
Certain breeds like terriers are just more prone to burying and digging, whether they are trying to just dig holes for no specific reason or bury their toys and food. Dogs that were specifically bred to chase or hunt specific animals also like to bury treats, toys, and bones.
You will find Dachshunds are often busy scratching at their bed, trying to bury a bone under a blanket or a couch pillow. There’s no reason for it outside of their burying instinct. While it may be annoying to some dog owners, it isn’t a reason for concern.
A dog that will cache food will also visit their food hoard when they are in the mood. They may ignore it for weeks or move it constantly over a short period of time. Other dogs will actually bury a toy or bone and then completely forget it. It just depends on your particular dog.
When a dog does not retrieve his food or treasure, it’s not because he doesn’t know where it is. Dogs have an insane sense of smell that is about 10,000 to 100,000 times the sense of smell of a human. So, remembering or finding a previous treasure is really never an issue.
Too Many Things
If you notice your dog burying his bones and toys frequently, just give him less of each. Think about it. If his resources are scarcer, then he won’t be as inclined to bury items he really wants. Rotate out his toys so he can still enjoy a variety of playthings without having an overabundance of toys.
For dogs that really like the hide and seek part of burying items, try and turn it into a game where he buries that beloved toy in a pile of pillows or blankets instead of destroying your yard or garden. You could also give your dog his own dirt spot in the yard where he can bury all his treats and toys without sacrificing the rest of your yard using an invisible dog fence to set the boundaries. The idea is to satisfy his natural instinct while finding a way for him to bury toys and bones without destroying your yard.
Do dogs remember where they bury their bones?
Amazingly, dogs always remember when they have buried toys and bones. How do they do that? It’s simple really. Unless a dog has buried a toy or bone super deep, they will use their smell to locate where they hid their bone.
Periodically, a dog will remove his bone from his hiding place, just to remember where it is. Dogs also like to hide their bones when no one is watching, and if you do catch them in the act of hiding it, they will remove it and find another spot. This urge to bury extra food is pretty strong, and it will even cause them to push around a bone on pavement or carpet in a similar way to burying it outside.
Why does my dog hide his bones?
It’s an instinct that dogs have to hoard their food. Back when food was hard to come by, your dog’s ancestors would have to compete with other dogs in his pack for food and bones. They would hoard with what they go and bury the bones near their den. When food became scarce, the dogs would dig up the older bones they buried and eat.
Other animals also hoard like beavers, squirrels, and leopards, so dogs aren’t the only ones saving their food for a rainy day. Even though your dog’s bowl is always full and he doesn’t have to hoard, he still has that same instinct to prepare for a leaner time.
What breeds of dogs bury bones?
All dogs will have the potential to bury bones, but some breeds are more predisposed to do it than others. Breeds like Carin Terriers, Miniature Schnauzers, Basset Hounds, Beagles, Dachshunds, and Terriers were originally bred to hunt game and honed their digging skills along with their innate instinct to search. So burying bones is typical behavior for them, but remember that it’s a behavior all dogs can have.
Why do dogs cry when burying bones?
It’s a bit confusing to see your dog cry as he carries or buries his bone. Why would he cry, shouldn’t he be happy? Well, actually, he is. Your dog is expressing his happiness and his thanks for his bounty. So, don’t worry, it is completely natural for your dog to cry while he buries something valuable to him.