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Why Does My Dog Bury Things?

Dogs bury treats and toys as a way to protect their treasures; however, there could be other reasons why they’re doing this.

February 7, 2022 4 min read
Why Does My Dog Bury Things?

It’s a natural instinct for many dogs. Your furry friend may bury a bone in the backyard or a favorite toy in a pile of blankets. It’s not uncommon to discover a random sock, food wrapper, or remote seemingly hidden in an odd place. Dogs bury all types of things, from dirty clothes to food, and it’s not for no reason at all. In fact, there are several common reasons why your pet may be burying items indoors or out.

Protect Treasures from Other Animals

In generations past, wild dogs had to be clever to survive. Food was hard to come by, and packs of dogs would roam about in hunting mode. It took considerable time and energy to acquire a meal, and these dogs would hurry to eat before it was gone.

It wasn’t long before wild dogs figured out that if they buried their food, they could come back for it later without fear that other animals would steal it. By burying bones, meat, and carcasses in the dirt, the cold dirt would act as a type of “refrigeration” and maintain the freshness of the goods longer.

Modern-day dogs carry many of these same instincts to preserve their treasures. Of course, it’s not just food that gets hidden away. Many dogs like to hide toys, chews, and comfort items, especially if there are other animals in the home.

Some Breeds are Predisposed to Digging

Certain dog breeds are predisposed to digging and buying habits. Some of the most common breeds that dig and bury include Terriers, Basset Hounds, Miniature Schnauzers, Beagles, and Dachshunds.

Some canines were originally bred to hunt. For example, Carin Terriers were bred to chase and hunt small game. They have a natural instinct to search and possess excellent digging skills. However, regardless of breed, all dogs may potentially dig.

The Dog Has Too Many Toys or Treats

It’s normal for loving dog owners to want to give their beloved pets toys, treats, and chews regularly. However, when dogs receive too many goodies, they may feel the need to hide the excess.

If you’re not a fan of your dog’s burying habits, consider giving your pet fewer toys or treats at once. Leave a small assortment of toys and chews available to prevent boredom but not enough that your pet is urged to hide his collection of valuables.

They are Bored or Want to Get Your Attention

Dogs often dig or bury things as a way to occupy themselves when they’re bored or lonely. Dogs require frequent stimulation and need an outlet for their energy. When their owners do not provide this outlet, they may look elsewhere for something to do.

Burying things can be a fun way for dogs to challenge themselves mentally and physically. This outlet requires them to find the perfect spot to hide items and use their physical endurance to dig holes or cover items with clothing or blankets.

The best way to curb this type of behavior is to provide your dog with plenty of physical and mental stimulation. Go on frequent walks, play in the backyard, and provide a regular rotation of toys. It’s important to add variety or your pet’s routine on occasion.

They are Struggling with Stress or Anxiety

Dogs deal with many of the same emotional ailments as their human counterparts, such as stress and anxiety. Dogs with these conditions may exhibit symptoms in several ways, such as by digging or buying things.

Digging can be a self-soothing behavior for some pets. Dogs that do not feel safe or feel threatened by people or animals in the home may dig and bury items, such as food, to feel more in control.

Burying is more common in multi-dog households or with pets who have dealt with scarce resources in the past. It is important to make your dog feel safe to avoid these behaviors. Speak with your vet if you are concerned about your pet’s anxiety.

Tips to Stop Unwanted Burying Behaviors

  • Place digging deterrents in the yard if your dog is digging up your backyard; set up deterrents like plastic chicken wire, partially buried rocks, or a sprinkler system. Cayenne, citrus peels, or vinegar can also help keep dogs away.
  • Go on frequent walks. Some breeds need more exercise than others. If your dog is starting to dig, grab a leash and head out for a walk to redirect his train of thought.
  • Create a distraction. Distractions can be effective at preventing unwanted behaviors like digging and burying. Your pet’s favorite toy, a treat, dental chew, or activity can help distract your dog from the activity at hand.
  • Look for signs of pest infestations. Some dogs dig because they see rats, gophers, squirrels, or other pests in the yard. Call in an exterminator if there are signs of burrowing animals or invasive rodents.
  • Provide a cool place to relax. Your dog may be digging in the dirt to try and keep cool. Prevent overheating by creating a cool place for your dog to rest, such as under a tarp stretched between two trees.

For many pet owners, digging and burying habits are no big deal. Dogs often turn to burying things as a form of play or exercise. However, if digging and burying behaviors become destructive or an obsessive compulsion, it may be time to talk to your vet about your concerns.

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