Why Do Dogs Bury Bones

Dog digging a hole in he backyard.

Purebred dog laika in a garden.

A dog burying items in the backyard is an image that we all know. Whether from comics, TV or our own life experience, we can all picture a dog proudly toting his treasures around to be hidden somewhere. So, why do dogs like to bury things like bones and their favorite toys? In short, it’s because they want to to keep them safe and protected. It derives from a behavior that was necessary for survival in past generations of canines.

The history of hiding treasure

Back when dogs were wild, they roamed in packs. Hunting for food often took days and a lot of energy. Once they were able to catch and kill something, they had to protect it from scavengers. Sometimes it was because they wanted to save it until it was safer to eat. And sometimes, if the hunt went really well, they hid it their leftovers to save for later.  Also, more than just protecting it from other animals, the dirt and earth helped to maintain freshness a little while longer.

Why do dogs continue to bury bones?

Our domestic dogs don’t really have to worry about their ancestor’s problems. Even when you have more than one dog, we know that they don’t have to worry about going hungry. We will always make sure that they have enough food and toys. However, they’re still inclined to hide their bones and toys in the yard and under their bed.

They have stockpile – When you dog has tons of food, toys and treats they want to save some of it. And to them, that thought taps into their genetic mind set of burying and hiding. They simply want to save them for later, so they hide them in a safe spot.

It’s a game – Our dogs also like to bury and hide more than just their own toys and treats. Dog parents often find their remotes, jewelry, shoes and other common objects hidden around the house (and sadly, sometimes our yards). This is a way your dog gets you to play with them. They know it gets your attention and sometimes even entices you to play with them.

How to stop burying if it bothers you

No one wants a backyard full of holes or to spend hours looking for your shoes or remotes. If you thinking digging and burying is a real problem, make sure to talk to your vet. But you can also try these tips to see if they help curb the behavior.

  • Minimize their access to toys and other objects
  • Don’t let them take bones or toys outside
  • Put up fencing around areas you don’t want them to dig

Burying bones and other objects is incredibly normal for our canine companions. Stemming from their ancestral roots and continuing into domesticated life, it seems to be a behavior that is going to last.

What is the strangest thing your dog has ever buried and where did you find it? We’d love to hear your stories in the comments below!

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