Why Do Dogs Bury Their Bones?

Dogs bury their bones as a form of instinctual behavior stemming from their wild ancestors, like wolves and foxes, who used to hide their food to protect it from other predators. This instinctive action is called caching which ensures they have a backup food reserve in case of scarcity.

Even though dogs are now domesticated and have a steady source of food, some still retain this behavior. It’s a way for them to guard their valuable resources, not just bones, but also toys, and even uneaten food, which they might ‘save for later’ by burying.

Last Updated on September 20, 2023

Do you have a garden? If you are considering bringing a new dog into your home, how much your garden matters to you is a very important question.

Breeds such as Dachshunds, Basset Hounds, Beagles, Siberian Huskies or any mix of these breeds love to dig – especially in gardens. Digging is instinctual for these dog breeds for many reasons. For example, digging allows them to gain access to prey such as badgers and rabbits or create a warm place to sleep or hide from bigger predators. But most importantly, digging allows dogs to bury their bones.

Dog in bed

Bones and Toy-Burying Habits in Dogs

Dogs will bury a bone or beloved toy under any surface that offers cover and protection. You can find bones in laundry baskets, wood piles, beds, and even under carpets. Your dog’s survival instinct relies on its ability to dig a hole and bury its food. From its doggy perspective, it believes doing this will keep the bone from being eaten by anyone or anything else. This is a remnant from the days when dogs would exist in packs. If the smaller members didn’t hide their food, it would be taken from them by one of their bigger pack mates.

If you find your dog’s hiding behavior endearing, it makes life a lot easier for you and your canine friend. However, if you find your dog’s burying behavior annoying, there are a few methods you can employ to deter this behavior.

Why Don’t Dogs Bury Their Dog Treats?

If your dog has access to varied treats such as biscuits and even different kinds of dog toys, chances are you will be the proud owner of a hole-free garden.

This is because when a dog has a balanced diet that does not include bones, it has no reason to dig a hole. For a balanced diet you can start feeding wet dog food to keep your pup healthy and hydrated. Furthermore, dogs love toys and especially squeaky toys do not usually bury them, so having many different playthings can provide a good distraction from digging. The exception to this rule are the Huskies who have a biological imperative to dig holes for escape, sleep or pleasure. Attempt to curb your dog’s digging behavior by first incorporating a more balanced diet and providing more satiating dog treats, snacks or toys. And while you’re out buying things, add some decent dog flea collars to your bag.

If your dog continues digging holes for its bones, this might also be a sign that you are giving bones out too freely. If your dog has only one bone to gnaw and no competitive dogs to hide it from, it will chew happily on its bone without burying it. Other positive ways to discourage your dog from digging include taking your dog on regular walks, separating bigger dogs from smaller dogs during bone distribution time and rotating treats so that your dog experiences different textures and shapes.

It is important to note that strategies that change the composition of your garden, usually do not work. Approaches such as sprinkling pepper or deterrents on the soil or grass are not effective and can cause gastrointestinal distress to your dog.

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