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Why do dogs bury things?

Staff dog burying a toy advice

The reason why dog bury things

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Have you ever caught your dog rushing out to the garden to bury their new toy or latest bone? Many of us pet parents have presented our pooch with a new toy expecting them to play happily, only for them to bury it in the ground (or even under a blanket or in our bed!).

By Natasha James

It can seem like strange behaviour to us humans, but rest assured it comes from a perfectly healthy dog instinct.

Far from showing that your dog doesn’t like the new toy or juicy bone you’ve just given them, burying it is actually a sign that they consider it a valued possession which they’re safely hiding away until later.

Do dogs really bury bones?

Yep, they really do! Wolves, foxes and other wild canines don’t always know when their next meal will come, so, if they’re lucky enough to have an excess of food, they’ll bury what they have to save it for next time. It can seem unusual for a beloved pet pooch who has three square meals a day to prepare for times of scarcity, but this is a throwback survival skill.

Burying a bone will keep it fresher for longer. Underground bone is kept cool and away from insects, heat and sunlight, all recipes for decay. So, believe it or not, burying a juicy bone in dirt is actually a way to keep it fresh.

Is burying bones bad for my dog?

Burying bones is generally a harmless (and pretty funny) pastime but, while wild dogs have hearty digestive tracts, some of our pampered domestic dogs have developed sensitive tums in recent times and may not react well to all that dirt on a fresh bone. If you do regularly give your dog fresh bones or meat then ensure they eat it right away. Rawhide bones or chew toys are far less of a problem as they’re unlikely to attract as much dirt as fresh meat.

Could burying bones or toys mean my dog is anxious?

Broadly speaking, this instinctive behaviour is nothing to worry about but if your dog’s digging is paired with destructive or defensive behaviour or separation anxiety then it could be a good idea to call in the professionals. Some pups, particularly rescue dogs, may have had negative experiences that have led them to become defensive and possessive of their toys, bones or treats which leads them to bury things in safe and secretive spots. Once your dog feels safe and secure then any negative traits associated with burying should fade away. We’d always advise working with dog trainers or behaviour therapists if your pooch shows any unwanted negative behaviours.

Learn more about dog behaviour problems here.

Why does my dog bury his toys?

You understand why they bury food but why is your pup burying her toys? It could simply mean she has too many! Certainly not a huge problem, and one many dogs would be happy to have, but it can mean that your dog is trying to hide her toys for later!  Consider putting some toys into storage and rotating which ones they get to play with. It’s better than one day realising their vast collection of toys are now all hidden somewhere in the garden!

How does my dog remember where they’ve buried things?

There are so many different statistics out there, it’s not easy to know which is true, but a dog’s sense of smell is thought to be at least 40 times better than ours and a dog can simply smell where they’ve left their stash!

So, there you have it, dogs bury things to save them for later. It’s nothing to worry about and is an age-old survival technique that helped their ancestors during their days in the wild.

Want to know more about understanding your dog’s behaviour? Check out our tips and advice

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