You just gave your pooch their meal.
But instead of eating, they start bumping it with their nose.
It’s like they’re burying their food.
“But…don’t they like it?”
“What could this behavior mean?”
In this article, you’ll discover:
- Dog breeds that are prone to exhibit this behavior.
- Serious underlying medical causes of food burying.
- 9 surprising reasons why your dog pretends to bury food with their nose.
- And many more…
Table of contents
Why do dogs pretend to bury food with their nose?
Your dog pretends to bury food with their nose because of hoarding instinct, anxiety, overfeeding, loss of appetite, possessiveness, or attention-seeking. They might also be suffering from nausea or eyesight problems. Or they might belong to hunting dog breeds.
9 reasons why dogs pretend to bury food with their nose
#1: Fido is seeking attention
You may have noticed how your pooch acts like a kid at times. From their bursting energy to being playful and curious.
There’s a good reason for that.
A study suggests that dogs and 2 and a half-year-old kids have the same social intelligence.
With this in mind, pooches may also seek attention as children do.
Kids and dogs alike love attention. Particularly their parents’.
I’ve seen kids play with their food just to make their mom and dad reprimand them. Children would do naughty things to get attention.
Even if it’s negative. Still, they got attention.
Now, an attention seeker pooch may do this too. They’ll bury their food with hopes of getting your attention. Especially if you watch them when they eat. And when they stop you say:
“Come on, eat your food.”
By doing this, you might be reinforcing the behavior. If you respond to them with attention, they’ll learn that burying their food will make you notice them. And they’ll repeat their actions.
Note: Clingy dogs will often seek their fur parent’s attention. And there are dog breeds that are known to be more clingy than others. Which include:
- Border Collie.
- Hungarian Vizsla.
- Italian Greyhound.
- Labrador Retriever.
- Doberman Pinscher.
Keep reading: 11 Reasons Why Your Dog Is So Clingy All Of A Sudden
#2: Your dog is a hoarder
“Don’t worry, hooman. I’m just saving this for later.”
Your dog could pretend to bury their food with their nose due to their hoarding instinct.
This behavior originated from their ancestors. I mean the wolves.
Here’s how it works in the wild:
Wolves can have a meal by hunting. And that means they won’t be able to always get meals. They can only eat if there’s prey around that they can capture.
As a result, when they get food, they hide or hoard it. This is because they are uncertain if they’ll still have a meal after that.
They know that every day will not be a good hunting day. So, when they happen to have a lot, they try to keep for the days when the food is scarce.
Now, back to domesticated dogs. They may also exhibit this behavior.
And it’s not that you don’t feed them enough. It’s more of instinctual behavior.
Your pooch might still haven’t figured out that you’re going to feed them the next day. Or they’ll have food in their bowl again later.
They could be just making sure that whatever happens, they’ll still have food to eat.
In this case, you might also see your dog digging a hole when they’re outside. Where they could also bury other valuable items that they find.
#3: Your pooch is a picky eater
Does your dog bury their food with their nose and doesn’t eat it at all?
If so, that’s a sign of a picky eater pooch.
I know it can be bothersome if your dog doesn’t eat their food.
But you should know that…
Most often, it starts because of our actions. Which we, dog parents, are unaware have effects on Fido.
Here’s an example:
You’re eating a snack. Then your fur baby asks for some by looking at you with their puppy eyes. Some may even be persistent by barking.
And as a dog parent, who loves feeding pooches, you gave them a piece of your food.
However, this action may cause problems.
Feeding them human food might make them stop eating regular meals.
And become picky when it comes to dog food.
This happened to a friend of mine. Her puppy was a great eater. She ate whatever her fur mom put in her feeding bowl.
But that changed when my friend handed her pup a piece of chicken.
After that, the puppy wouldn’t eat anything unless she’s fed by hand. Or she’s given something that her fur mom is also eating.
You see, it became a problem. So, to address this, my friend trained her pup to eat from the dog bowl.
If you’re in a similar situation, here’s how it works:
- Train when the surrounding is quiet. So your pooch will be free from distractions.
- Put a nice meal in Fido’s bowl. It could be their favorite food. Let’s take boiled chicken for example.
- Let them sniff the food. You can move their feeding bowl near their nose. This is to make them know that it’s yummy food.
- If they finally eat from their bowl, praise them. Make them feel that eating there is rewarding.
- Practice this consistently until they manage to eat on their own.
Aside from that, giving too many treats could mean that…
#4: You’re overfeeding them
If there’s one thing we can agree with, that’ll be our love of feeding our pooches.
But let’s admit it, we sometimes take this way too far. As I’ve said, we might be unaware of the effects of giving pooches food. Too much of it to be particular.
Here are just some of our dog-human-food scenarios:
You see your pooch having a great appetite. They finish their food in no time. And they seem to expect more.
And you might think that your pooch is still hungry. So, you fill their bowl again with food.
Another is when you’re teaching your dog a trick. Most often we use treats as a reward. And sometimes, during training, we may not notice that we’re rewarding them too much.
These are just some of the overfeeding accidents. But it’s something you should be concerned about.
Overfeeding causes serious health problems in dogs. And might affect the length of their lifespan. Some of its effects are:
- Heart disease.
MedicAnimal says that you may spot overfeeding through your dog’s stool. It’ll make their stool look firm but softer on the tip.
Fido is eating the right amount of food if their fecal looks:
- Dark brown.
Overfeeding your pooch might also cause them to be…
#5: Your pawed child is nauseous
Burying your dog’s food might also be due to nausea. Which is a condition where people and dogs alike may suffer from.
Remember what being nauseous feels like? That strange feeling in your stomach that makes you feel like throwing up.
A nauseous dog may feel the exact same way. And since they feel like vomiting, they won’t have the appetite to eat. Which causes them to nudge their food and bury it.
“What can make my pawed baby nauseous?”
Nausea in dogs may be due to various factors. But overeating or eating too fast is the most common.
So, try to observe how your dog eats. That might answer why they bury their food with their nose.
Other than that, WebMD says that nausea may also be due to serious health problems. Which include:
- Food intolerance.
- Urinary infection.
- Intestinal parasites.
- Bacterial infections.
- Medication side effects.
- Inflammation of the intestine.
- Ingestion of toxic substances.
- Acute kidney and liver failure.
- Eating foreign objects (garbage or stool, for example).
Serious health problems brought by nausea can have signs such as:
- Weight loss.
- Stomach pain.
- Vomiting with blood.
#6: Your pawed baby is possessive
Some dogs may bury their food because of possessiveness. This is common in territorial dog breeds.
They’ll be protective of things that they claim as their own. This includes furniture, toys, and their food.
Some of the territorial dog breeds are:
- Giant Schnauzer.
- German Shepherd.
- Doberman Pinscher.
- Rhodesian Ridgeback.
A dog who’s burying the food with their nose might be their way of protecting it. A territorial and possessive pooch will do this with or without threat around them.
This will be the case if your dog buries their food and their body language appears to be:
- Ears are up.
- Hackles rise.
- Body posture is stiff.
- Keeping their head down.
- Whites on the eyes are visible.
- Tail is low and behind the legs.
Aside from that, you’ll know that your fur baby’s possessiveness is getting out of hand if they start:
Besides the breed, there’s another reason for possessiveness in canines.
So let me ask you this:
Did you get your pooch from a pet shop?
If so, there’s something you should know.
A study found out that dogs develop behavioral problems when separated from their litter earlier than 60 days after birth.
Results showed that 70 dogs exhibited food possessiveness as adults. These dogs are separated from their littermates at the age of 30-40 days for adoption.
Researchers also suggest that this is likely to happen if you got your dog at less than the age of 2 months.
Aside from that, this behavior might also lead to:
Resource guarding happens when dogs protect their resources because they sense a threat. It’s a part of a dog’s nature.
Aside from food, canines may also do this towards their:
- Food bowls.
- Dog parents.
- Sleeping spot.
This might be the case if you have many dogs in the house. Your Fido might see other pooches as a threat. And think that their food might get stolen. That’s why they bury it with their nose to protect it.
Note: Dogs who’re possessive or in resource guarding mode may get aggressive. Watch out because they might bite to fight for their food.
#7: Your fur baby is anxious
Did Fido have an experience of being starved before?
Or are they a rescue dog?
If so, your dog might be burying their food because of anxiety.
This will be the case if Fido has a bad experience of losing or not having enough food.
Maybe they received food in between very big intervals.
This also happens to dogs who’ve been in a puppy mill. Since canines there have a limited food supply. So while some of them don’t have much to eat, others may even be left with nothing.
So, if either of these is your dog’s case, they’ll be anxious that their food will be taken away from them any minute. That’s why they try to bury their food to secure it.
How to resolve this?
Be consistent in giving your dog enough food. Feed them at the right time regularly.
In time, they’ll realize that you’ll still provide food for them. Which will make them feel secure and happier.
An anxious dog will also display behaviors such as:
- Ears down.
- Blinking rapidly.
- Tail tucked between the hind legs.
- Eyes wide open (startle expression).
#8: Your fur pal is a hunting dog
Being a hunting dog means that they have an instinct of a hunter.
Mind you, hunting dogs have a great digging and burying ability. In the wild, they dig tunnels to find their prey.
Now, in domestication, your pooch might also do this. Although maybe not to hope for prey underneath their food. But just as part of their instincts.
Or maybe they’re using their intense smelling ability to investigate their food. Because hunting dogs also use their nose to locate prey around them.
Try to see if your dog belongs to hunting dog breeds. Here are some of them:
- Irish Setter.
- English Pointer.
- Golden Retriever.
- German Shepherd.
- Labrador Retriever.
- American Foxhound.
- Bluetick Coonhound.
#9: Eyesight problems
“I’m just trying to see what you’re feeding me, Mom/Dad.”
Burying food behavior might also be due to vision problems.
Your dog might be nudging their food because they can’t see what’s in their bowl. And they’re trying to find it out by sniffing. Which may appear to fur parents as burying their food.
Vision problems may occur in dogs at any age. And this could be due to:
Here’s how to spot symptoms of eyesight issues in dogs:
- Cloudy eyes.
- Pawing the face.
- Being easily startled.
- Obvious eye irritation.
- Red and swollen eye appearance.
- Often bumping into walls or objects.
- Suddenly staying at one certain place.
- Hesitating to be in a new environment.
If you’re suspecting vision issues in your dog, seek an ophthalmologist. This is to correctly diagnose your pooch and treat them right away.
There’ll be instances that eye problems have other underlying causes. Which include:
- Heart disease.
- Kidney failure.
- Liver disorders.
- Systemic diseases.