You give your dog a treat.
They happily take it, like they always do.
But this time, they didn’t eat it!
“Where are you going with your food, baby?”
And just like a pirate, they bury their treats.
They do this with toys and bones, too!
Ever wonder why this happens?
Should you be worried about it?
Find out more about:
- What to do if they start hiding their stuff.
- Whether or not this is unhealthy behavior.
- 15 weird reasons why dogs hide their traits, toys, & bones.
- And a whole lot more…
Table of contents
Why does my dog hide his treats, toys, and bones?
Your dog hides his treats, toys, and bones because it is part of his nature. Dogs are wired for survival and therefore try to keep food for later consumption. It could also be an indicator of stress and other underlying psychological issues. Or your dog is trying to get your attention.
15 reasons why your dog hides his treats, toys, and bones
#1: Their survival mode has been activated
Sounds like your dog is training for the TV show Survivor, doesn’t it?
After all, their ancestors and other relatives have been good at surviving in the wild.
Our dogs are closely related to foxes, wolves, and other canines.
Back in the wild, food sources were scarce.
It was hard to look for fresh meals.
Especially during the winter.
This is when most prey is hibernating or has moved away for warmer weather.
Sometimes canines would go hunting for days.
And still, turn up with nothing.
So they tried ways to store their hard-earned food.
If they do find them.
Unlike humans though, dogs don’t have refrigerators in the wild.
Wouldn’t it be funny though?
Finding your fur baby dragging home their own GE refrigerator to store food in?
But back to reality.
The closest thing they have to a ref is the cold ground.
According to research, they bury extra food to save it and eat it later. I mean…
It’s part of their instinct
This refers to items your pooch perceives as important.
“Hiding things? Really?”
Yes, they hide food and other things they deem important because they have been like this for a long time.
Well, not necessarily your pooch themselves have been like this.
More like their ancestors have always had the instinct of hiding things.
Pro tip: If you feed your pooch something that easily goes bad, make sure they eat it immediately. It might go bad if they store it by burying it. And while their ancestors can stomach meals that have gone bad, your fur baby might not.
#2: They’ve grown to have it as their habit
There are several things that dogs do out of habit.
They could be trained to do those activities.
Or maybe they saw it from another dog.
Especially if they see another dog as someone they respect. Then, they most likely will follow their lead.
Your pooch could also have just been copying you.
Same as how they are with other dogs, your pooch could be watching you and wanted to do what it is you do.
And since you haven’t stopped them, they repeated the behavior. And over time, it turned into a habit.
#3: They’re inviting you to play
There are many ways our fur babies try to invite us to play with them.
Jumping up and down…
Running circles on you…
All sorts of crazy antics just to get you up and throw their toy around.
We love playing with our pooch.
And they even more so!
Plus, it’s a nice and effective opportunity to deepen our bond.
It’s also a good form of exercise for your pooch! As your fur baby needs exercise to stay in top shape. And be healthy physically, mentally, and emotionally.
This could be why they drag their toys outside and bury them in the sand or in your yard.
They want you to notice and join their playtime.
“What should I do? Just play along?”
If you think they’re just trying to play with you, and you have the time, why not?
Just make sure that they are not destroying things around your home when they’re digging.
It would also be a good habit to teach your dog to clean up after they play.
Train them to bring their toys to a specific location.
Or maybe a designated toy box for them.
‘How do I train them to do this?”
You can start by showing them where their designated toy box is.
Let them know they should store their toys after playing by bringing them there after using.
If they follow you to the toy box, give them a treat.
If they can, have them carry a toy to the designated area.
You may also train them to do a few commands such as “come”.
If they’re not trained for it yet, walk alongside them while pointing where they should go.
Once they reach the area, give them the “drop it” command and give them treats.
Repeat the process and make sure you only give positive reinforcements.
Dogs, after all, learn best when encouraged and not punished.
#4: They’ve been overfed
“Uhmmm… is that really possible?”
I know, I know…
Your dog has a huge appetite.
They could probably eat an entire factory of dog food.
And I won’t doubt you!
Kidding aside, and to answer the question, yes… it’s very possible to overfeed your fur baby.
It can happen if you don’t look at the recommended amount of food to be given to your dog.
If you have a package of dog food lying around, check the label at the back.
There should be a food chart.
This will then show the amount of food to give your pooch per meal.
It will largely depend on their size, age, physical activities, etc.
Here is an example of a chart from Purina:
|Adult dog size||Dry food feeding amount (in cups)|
|3 to 12 lb. (1.4 to 5.4 kg.)||1/3 to 1|
|13 to 20 lb. (5.9 to 9 kg.)||1 to 1/3|
|21 to 35 lb. (9.5 to 15.9 kg.)||1-1/3 to 2|
|26 to 50 lb. (11.8 to 22.7 kg.)||2 to 2-2/3|
|51 to 75 lb. (23.1 to 34 kg.)||2-2/3 to 3-1/3|
|76 to 100 lb. (34.5 to 45.4 kg.)||3-1/3 to 4-1/4|
|100+ lb. (45.4+ kg.)||4-1/4 plus 1/4 cup for every 10 lbs (4.5 kg.) of body weight over 100 lbs (45.3 kg.)|
Most dog food companies provide information like these so your fur babies get enough meals.
The frequency of the meals is also important.
This is why it’s essential to check the amount that should be given to your pooch.
Better yet, consult your vet and seek help from them.
Overfeeding may also lead to obesity which in turn can give your dog several physical issues.
Joint problems and lower physical activity can be the main effects of this.
Pro tip: Rewards don’t always mean treats. Giving your dog pets, cuddles, and praises, are all valid ways of showing them you love them.
#5: You’re giving them too many toys
When it comes to our pooches, is there really such a thing as too much?
We love them a lot and would give the world to our babies.
If only we can always be there for our furry pooches and provide them the love and care they deserve…
No doubt that all fur parents like you and I would.
However, there should be limitations to the things that we give our fur babies.
One thing that can happen is that our dogs will think they can always get what they want.
This leads to unwanted behaviors such as being aggressive when they don’t get it.
Or demand in other ways, such as barking. So they acquire what they want all the time.
The principle of not giving too much also applies to toys.
Much like in food, having excess in toys may also cause your dogs to bury them.
If they have open access to tons of toys, they will be prompted to do so.
They might think, “Hey, my toys are so cool, I will save some of these for future playtimes.”
Before this happens, you should try rotating their toys.
Let them play with a few until they get bored, and then you pull out their other toys.
#6: Boredom got the better of them
“I am so bored… ugh.”
You then get up quickly.
Walk towards your fridge.
Open it and check its contents.
Close it seeing nothing that entices your appetite.
Then 5 minutes later do the exact same thing.
Yeah… happens to the best of us.
But not only to humans.
Our fur babies experience boredom, too!
And they can show it in several different ways.
One of them is burying things in your yard.
Or even hiding them in their bed. Between the cushions on the sofa. Under the curled-up carpet in your storage room.
You’d then be shocked why there are so many random things your dog owns hidden all over your home.
Can’t blame them if they’re bored.
Because they feel this way, they try to do activities that are interesting to them.
“How can I help them not feel bored?”
Check the activity requirements for your dogs.
Especially if they are genetically active and are bred to work, they might require 2 hours and above of physical activity.
Make sure that you meet their needs.
If you have an active dog, it is detrimental to their health to force them to be sitting all day.
It’s against their nature.
Aside from playtimes, you can also train them to do simple household tasks.
These include picking up trash, letting them bring you light items e.g. towel, and closing doors.
#7: They’re feeling fearful of having their things taken
Habits and other doggie behavior start small.
Much like training them to listen to commands, unwanted actions can form little by little.
In the case of hiding food, this may be the reason why they do it.
Dogs may want to move their food or their feeding bowls.
This can stem from the fear that you’ll take it from them. (Even though it never happened).
Or maybe the other pets will eat their share of food.
Because of their instincts, they will stay away from those that pose a threat to their meals.
They think of their food as something valuable and must be protected from thieves.
I mean, stealing food does happen between dogs.
So it’s good to train them to stay in one place when eating.
This will avoid moving food and soon burying or hiding them around the house.
What you can do is put a barrier or a gate on the passageway of your kitchen or wherever they usually eat.
This way they’ll be contained in one area and focus only on eating.
It would also help to train your dogs to only eat their share and not reach on others’ bowls.
Training your puppy while they are young will help better reinforce this behavior.
You might also be interested in: 7 Reasons Why Your Dog Rolls On His Toys + 5 Tips
#8: You’ve been encouraging this behavior
Well, if you do like them hiding stuff around your house, then, you’ve got nothing to worry about.
However, if you do want to remove this behavior, you gotta stop encouraging them.
“Stop encouraging them? I didn’t train them to do this.”
Whether you’ve given them proper training to hide things or not, dogs can still learn this behavior.
“How?”, you ask.
There could’ve been times when we unknowingly pet them. Or give them attention when they start hiding things.
It could be that you find it funny that they do this.
Or you could just genuinely be proud and happy to see them enjoying an activity such as burying a bone.
Once you show these positive emotions to your dogs whenever they hide things, it can have an encouraging effect.
They want your attention and love getting pets and cuddles from you.
So if they get these after hiding their treats, toys, and bones…
They’ll do it again.
Bera in mind that scolding them could also be rewarding for some dogs. Positive or not, attention is still attention.
So they’ll be hiding items non-stop because they think you like them. And they get rewards after.
Be more mindful of your actions around your pooch.
And refrain from accidentally encouraging unwanted behavior
#9: It’s how they are bred
Their breed can also come into play.
On top of dogs being natural at hiding and burying things, there are dog breeds who are even more so inclined to do it.
These types of dogs tend to be good at burrowing holes and may bring this behavior when it comes to food.
If your dog is a hunting breed, then it’s more likely that they will bury things randomly.
Their ancestors have been known to go with their hooman to hunt in the wild.
Because of this, they are excellent at chasing down animals shot by their owners.
They even run after creatures into their homes and retrieve them as part of the hunt.
Examples of dogs that belong to these breeds are:
- Golden Retriever.
- German Shorthaired Pointer.
Here’s what to do about it:
Try to divert their attention to other activities to lessen their habit of hiding their toys and food.
You can try taking them out into the woods for a hike.
Training them to seek out items you hid could also be an excellent activity.
Not only will you be exercising them, but you would also harness their specific hunting abilities.
#10: They treasure the things you give them
Your pooch is loyal, protective, and would do anything they can for you.
This is especially true if you have formed a strong bond with them.
Because of this, your fur baby looks at you as someone they love.
And everything that comes from you is considered a gift.
Or in a way, a treasure.
Much like how we keep gifts that are given to us by loved ones.
Whether the present is big or small, no matter the price, we cherish it as long as it comes from them.
That’s how it is with dogs, too!
The food, toys, and other items that you give them are considered cherished items.
And that’s why they instinctively bury or hide them in your home.
They see the need to keep it hidden from the outside world.
#11: They just want to grab your attention
If your dog doesn’t normally do this, hiding items in your home can be a sign that your pooch needs your much-needed attention.
Our dogs love being around us.
They crave our attention and want to be with us most of the time.
That’s normal fur baby behavior.
But how they grab our attention varies from time to time.
And yes, sometimes, they hide things just so you give them your regard.
There could be a number of reasons why your dog feels like you’ve neglected them for a bit.
Do you have a new member in the family?
Have you brought home a new pet?
All these could be why your dog is feeling jealous.
Together with their toys, food, and bones, they can also store away your things.
Especially items that you usually bring whenever you go out.
This doesn’t necessarily mean they have something urgent to tell you.
Sometimes they just want cuddles and pets from their hooman.
Other times they could just be feeling jealous when you spend time with your other pets.
#12: They could be exhibiting resource guarding
If your pooch has been hiding their toys, food, bones, and other items, that’s normal dog behavior.
However, if it’s paired with aggressive behavior, then that’s a point of concern.
Whenever our pooch hides things we usually return the items to their usual spot.
For example, if you find a toy lodged between the sofa cushions, you take it back to the toy box, right?
And normally, dogs who are healthy mentally have no problems with that whatsoever.
They see you as part of their pack and trust you.
They know you won’t do anything to harm them or take the things they love away from them.
However, if this behavior is coupled with barking, snarling, and growling, then it’s an issue.
What they’re doing can be described as resource guarding.
It’s when they try to threaten others who go near things that they deem important to them.
It could be food or non-food items.
If your fur baby is exhibiting this behavior, make sure that you don’t punish them to alter the behavior.
This includes screaming back, hitting them. Or hurting them, in general, to make them follow you.
Seek help from your vet on how to help your pooch overcome this behavior.
#13: They feel stressed
“Oh no. Really? Why?”
It could be caused by their environment.
The following could be the source of stress:
- Loud noises.
- Large objects.
- Meeting new people.
- Memory loss (due to old age).
It may also be from a lack of positive attention from their hooman.
Whenever you are stressed, dogs can feel stressed, too!
They are known to mimic the emotions of the people near them.
According to research, dogs can mirror our cortisol levels.
Cortisol is a hormone that is released by our bodies in dire situations.
It helps us make better decisions related to our fight or flight reactions.
Sometimes we come home from a very long day at work, or we recently were in a stressful situation.
Our dogs can sense what we’re feeling, and they become stressed, too, as a result.
One of the ways they relieve their stress is by hiding toys and treats.
It can become an outlet through which they channel all the negative emotions they’re feeling.
Burying and digging can be used to distract themselves from bad feelings.
Whenever your dog starts hiding things, check if anything in their environment is causing them stress.
#14: They just enjoy doing it
Yes, it can be as simple as that.
No underlying reasons or issues.
Just pure happiness from doing it.
I mean, you can see it in your fur babies.
Especially when they’re digging around.
Wide smiles, determined eyes, and seemingly untiring legs
There are a lot of things that can bring joy to your pooch and digging is one of them.
It’s a physically engaging activity. Which makes it is an excellent form of exercise for them.
There are also dog breeds that are prone to digging, such as:
- Cairn Terrier.
- Border Collie.
- Jack Russel Terrier.
They sometimes do it with their friends and they love forming bonds with other dogs.
As long as they’re not going to harm themselves while doing all these activities, there’s nothing to worry about.
You can help lessen the danger your dog might encounter by keeping your yard clean.
Trim the bushes and grass short to keep mites and ticks away from your pooch.
#15: They’ve had bad experiences in the past
This could be the case with some dogs who got adopted from shelters.
If they’ve had abusive owners who don’t care for them, it can cause them to start hiding their food and toys.
It could be that their past handlers underfed them. Or kept their toys away from them as punishment.
Because of these experiences, they have learned to always keep something for themselves.
Especially food which may have been scarce while living in poor conditions before.
Give your pooch some time to adjust.
Make them feel loved and cared for.
Whenever they share one of their toys with you, give them a treat. If they allow you to take their toy in your hand, reward them again.
Let your doggo know that good things happen when you’re around. And that you mean well.