DOG GUIDETraining & Behavior

Why Do Dogs Bury Their Food and Other Things? Weird Behavior Explained!

Dogs are notorious diggers, but one weird behavior I also observed is that some like burying food. It’s a quirky habit, which leaves pet owners wondering: why do dogs bury their food? There’s a lot of explanation here, but the most common is that dogs hide things they want to protect against predators. If you’re starting to dig dog food and grocery items from your yard, the following might be the reasons why.

Why do dogs bury their food?

🐶It’s their survival instinct.

why do dogs bury their food

Back in the wild, dogs will bury leftover meat against scavengers. They also do this to protect the food from parasites and direct sunlight.

Even though canines got domesticated, they still carry this instinct with them. Canines prefer the cool dirt when burying food, which could be the case in your garden. They use the soil as a natural refrigerator so they can go back to the food later when they get hungry.

Experts call this behavior ‘caching’ and is observed when a food source is scarce among dogs. It’s a feeding instinct that dates back to the dogs’ wild ancestors. You may even see your dog caching in the air as if burying the food under non-existent soil.

Overall, this habit shouldn’t be a problem unless your dog is doing it all the time. Limiting your dog’s access outdoors and consulting with a dog trainer will help solve this issue. Also, make sure that your dog is fully fed, so it doesn’t bury food when given a lot.

🐶Your dog is being possessive.

Some dogs tend to be overprotective and possessive of their things, including food. In turn, they hide their prized possessions by burying it under the ground.

I remember a friend once excavated a whole sleeve of Oreos and a pack of beef jerky from his yard. After a review of the security camera, he discovered that his dog has been doing it all along. Also, it’s not just the Oreos and jerky, there are also dog toys that have been missing for months.

Indoor dogs with no access to a yard will often squeeze the items under the sofa or under a pile of blankets. This can be a sign of anxiety, too, so I suggest contacting a canine behaviorist if the burying habit is getting out of hand.

The possessive behavior of your dog will also manifest on other occasions. It could be overly protective of you, as well.

🐶Your pooch is anxious.

why do dogs bury their food

Dogs develop various behavioral problems when they are anxious. This includes digging and burying things incessantly. It can range from dog food, toys, and even your important belonging. Dogs that have been left alone for long periods will also develop this habit.

Aside from that, rescue dogs are more prone to this behavioral problem. A new home and their past experiences make these doggos aloof and anxious all the time. It’s important to make the pooch feel safe in your home through continued companionship and care.

Most of the time, the burying habit will resolve on its own once the rescue dog acclimated to your home. If not, you may need the help of a professional trainer or a veterinarian.

🐶Your dog wants to get your attention.

Some dogs are clingier than others. They will try to get your attention every chance they get and in any way possible. Most of the time, we will pay attention to our dogs when they do something wrong, like digging under the fence or stealing our possessions.

Over time, your dog will realize that such actions are effective in catching your attention. With that, the pooch will keep stealing household items and their food to bury outdoors. Some will hide it under furniture or elsewhere that’s hard to find.

Before you put the blame on your dog, you should also reassess yourself as a dog owner. Are you always busy at work? How many hours do you spend bonding with your dog? If you barely pay attention to your pooch, the burying behavior makes perfect sense. Like a child, your dog is begging for your time, so they try to get it by doing weird actions.

🐶You’re giving too much.

Free-feeding your dog isn’t a good idea for a lot of reasons. First, it increases your dog’s risk of obesity. Second, it makes the pooch more likely to bury its food.

This is linked to canines’ caching habit in the wild. When there’s too much food available at a certain time, they will try to save up the leftovers for later. The only way they know possible is by burying it under the soil. When the pooch gets hungry, he will dig it back for a quick snack.

This habit is dangerous because your outdoor soil might be treated with pesticides. And when the dog eats the buried food, it may get poisoned. With or without pesticides, buried food is no longer safe to eat because it would have entered a certain extent of decomposition.

🐶It’s your dog’s game.

Bored dogs will often look for things that will keep them entertained. Unfortunately, it could be burying things around, including their food.

Dogs that like to play scavenger hunt will target shiny things like wristwatches, jewelry, and the likes, which they will bury. This will send you looking around the house, which is somehow playful and satisfying for your dog because you’re giving them attention.

Our dogs are smarter than we thought they are. Through our habits, our furry babies realize which are valuable to us and which are not. This is why your doggo knows exactly what to steal to get your attention with the hopes of initiating playtime.


How to stop your dog from burying food and other items

The burying habit of your dog could become annoying if it starts to steal expensive items. In some countries, dogs that are digging and burying things are considered a bad omen. Some say that it’s a foreshadowing that someone is about the die and be buried soon.

Regardless of the meaning attributed to it, burying food and other things are not normal. You should do something about it so your dog will grow up to be a disciplined canine. Here are some of the tips I recommend:

  • Pick up leftovers. During mealtime, watch your dog eat and pick up the leftovers once it’s done. Through this, there’s no way for your dog to target the food and bury it somewhere.
  • Keep the dog inside. As much as possible, keep your dog away from where it tends to bury things. Closing the door and building a fence will help curb this behavior.
  • Do not give chews toys that rot. Chew toys made of nylon and non-decaying materials are best, so your dog will not be prompted to bury once it starts to smell.
  • Keep your dog stimulated. A busy and tired dog has no energy to dig and bury food. I recommend giving the pooch daily walks and playtime to keep its mind off the burying habit. You can also give your interactive dog toys so your pooch wouldn’t resort to burying when it gets bored.
  • Brush up with training. Regardless if your pooch is fully trained, it will help a lot to brush up its obedience skills. This will let you distract them whenever an urge to dig or bury manifests.
  • Consult with a dog trainer. If the burying habit is getting out of control, you can always consult with a dog trainer or animal behaviorist. This professional can help trace the root of the problem to formulate an effective solution. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What breed of dog likes to bury things?

A: While all dogs may develop a burying habit, some breeds are more likely to do it than others. The likes of Beagles, Dachshunds, Miniature Schnauzers, and Basset hounds are notorious for digging and burying things. This is due to their strong sense of smell, which compels them to hide the scent from potential predators.

Q: How do I stop my dog from burying bones?

A: If your dog likes burying its chew bones, I suggest switching to one with a non-meat scent. You can get a dental chew bone with a minty fresh taste. This way, your dog’s instinct of burying decomposing food will not kick in. You should also limit your dog’s access to the outdoors where it can bury the bones.

Q: Why does my dog bury hits treats in blankets?

A: In the wild, dogs hoard food due to scarcity. Despite being domesticated, canines still have this hard-wired trait. This explains why dogs bury their food and treat under blankets and furniture. Outdoor dogs will dig a hole and bury food and other things as well.


Conclusion

Why do dogs bury their food? It’s usually due to their instincts to hide food leftovers. It could also be triggered by boredom and lack of physical and mental stimulation. You can consult a vet or a dog trainer to help you fix this problem.