Why Do Dogs Hide Bones? (Factors)

Have you ever wondered why dogs have a tendency to hide their bones? It’s a behavior that may seem perplexing at first, but it actually has a fascinating explanation rooted in their ancestry. Dogs bury bones as a natural instinct that has been passed down through generations. Let’s delve deeper into the reasons behind this behavior and gain a better understanding of why dogs hide bones.

Why Dogs Hide Bones

Key Takeaways:

  • Dogs bury bones as a natural instinct rooted in their ancestry.
  • This behavior originated from the need to protect food from other animals and preserve it for later.
  • Domestic dogs exhibit the same behavior, even though their food supply is not at risk.
  • Burying bones can be seen as a way for dogs to save and protect their valuable possessions.
  • Understanding this behavior can help pet owners provide appropriate outlets for their dog’s instincts.

The Evolutionary Purpose of Burying Bones

The main reason why dogs bury bones is for food protection and preservation. In the wild, when food was hard to come by, dogs would bury their leftovers to save them for leaner times. Burying food helped keep it safe from other animals who may try to steal it, maintained its freshness, and reduced spoilage. This behavior was essential for survival and has carried over into domestic dogs.

Dogs have a natural instinct rooted in their ancestry to protect and preserve valuable resources like food. Burying bones is an extension of this instinct, ensuring that they have access to nourishment even when it’s not readily available. By burying bones, dogs create a hidden food stash that they can return to when they need it, mimicking the survival tactics used by their wild ancestors.

This behavior also serves as a form of food preservation. By burying bones, dogs are able to keep them fresh for longer periods of time. This is especially important in environments where food scarcity is a common occurrence. By burying bones, dogs can ensure that their food remains edible and readily available, even when hunting or scavenging opportunities are limited.

Table: Comparison of Food Protection and Preservation Methods in Dogs and Wolves

Dogs Wolves
Method Burying bones Caching prey in snow or earth
Purpose Food protection and preservation Ensuring a future food supply
Advantages Reduced risk of theft
Reduced spoilage
Preservation of prey in frozen conditions
Disadvantages Potential loss or forgetting of buried bones Difficulty accessing cached prey in hard-packed snow

The items dogs hide and their hoarding behavior

Dogs have a natural instinct to hide and protect items they consider valuable. While bones are a common object that dogs hide, they are not the only things that can be subject to their hoarding behavior. Dogs may also hide toys and other treasures they hold dear. This behavior stems from their ancestral instincts to safeguard resources and ensure their survival.

When dogs hide items, it can be a form of play, as well as a way to seek attention from their owners. They may bury toys in various locations around the house or yard, engaging in a game of hide-and-seek. This behavior provides mental stimulation and can be a way for dogs to express their natural instincts.

To understand a dog’s hoarding behavior, it is important to recognize that their prized possessions hold significant value to them. Dogs perceive their toys and treasures as valuable resources that they want to protect. They may exhibit possessiveness over these items and guard them from potential threats.

The Hoarding Behavior of Dogs

Dog hoarding behavior can be observed in various forms, including digging holes to bury items, hiding objects under furniture or in corners, or even carrying them around in their mouths. Some dogs may even collect multiple items and create their own hidden stash. This behavior is not only a result of natural instinct but can also be influenced by the dog’s personality and past experiences.

Common items dogs hide: Reasons for hiding
Toys Play, attention-seeking, instinctual behavior
Treats Preservation, saving for later
Stolen objects Desire to keep valuable items
Personal belongings Comfort, ownership, scent marking

“My dog loves to hide her toys in the backyard. It’s like a game for her to find and retrieve them. I think it’s her way of keeping herself entertained and mentally stimulated,”

says dog owner Mary.

It’s important for pet owners to respect their dog’s hoarding behavior while also ensuring it remains safe and controlled. Providing a variety of toys and engaging in interactive play can help prevent excessive hoarding. Additionally, proper training and positive reinforcement can help dogs understand boundaries and reduce possessive behavior.

Understanding why dogs hide items and engage in hoarding behavior allows us to appreciate their natural instincts and provide them with an enriching environment that supports their needs.

Harmful Effects of Burying Behavior

While burying behavior is typically harmless, it can sometimes lead to problems for dogs. One common issue is compulsive digging, where dogs continuously dig holes in the ground. This behavior can cause injuries to their paws, leading to cuts, scrapes, or even infections. It’s essential for pet owners to monitor their dog’s digging habits and take appropriate steps to prevent any harm.

Another potential harm of burying behavior is the risk of intestinal problems. When dogs bury bones and later retrieve and eat them, there is a chance of gastrointestinal upset. Domestic dogs may not be equipped to safely digest and process bones, which can result in blockages or irritations in their digestive system. To avoid these issues, it is best to avoid giving dogs bones altogether and provide them with safe and appropriate alternatives for chewing.

“Compulsive digging can lead to injuries for dogs, particularly in their paws. It is important for pet owners to be aware of this behavior and take measures to prevent any harm.”

It is important for pet owners to be aware of the potential harmful effects of burying behavior and take preventive measures. Regularly inspecting and maintaining the dog’s paws can help identify and treat any injuries promptly. Providing mental and physical stimulation through interactive toys and engaging activities can help redirect the dog’s energy away from excessive digging. Additionally, consulting with a veterinarian can provide valuable guidance in addressing any concerns and ensuring the dog’s overall health and well-being.

Harmful Effects of Burying Behavior Preventive Measures
Compulsive digging Monitor and redirect excessive digging behavior
Paw injuries Regularly inspect and maintain the dog’s paws
Intestinal problems Avoid giving bones and provide safe alternatives for chewing

Reasons for Burying Toys

Dogs burying toys is a natural instinct that can be seen as an extension of their behavior of burying food. Just like they bury bones to protect and preserve them, dogs may bury toys for similar reasons. It is their way of safeguarding their treasured possessions.

In addition to protection and preservation, dogs may also hide their toys as a way to seek attention or initiate play. By burying their toys, dogs are showing their desire to engage with their owners. They may hide a toy and then seek their owner’s attention to play a game of fetch or tug-of-war.

This behavior provides mental stimulation for dogs as they enjoy the act of hiding and retrieving their toys. It taps into their natural instincts and provides them with a sense of fulfillment. So the next time you find your dog burying a toy, it may just be their way of seeking attention or engaging in a playful activity.

Table: Comparison of Burying Toys and Burying Food

Burying Toys Burying Food
Primary Reason Protection and preservation Protection and preservation
Initiation Seeking attention or play No specific initiation
Object Type Toys Bones or food scraps

Addressing Compulsive Hiding Behavior

Compulsive hiding behavior in dogs can be a cause for concern and may indicate underlying stress or anxiety. If your dog’s hiding behavior becomes excessive or starts interfering with their daily routine, it is important to seek veterinary advice. A veterinarian can help determine the root cause of the behavior and provide guidance on how to address it.

To address compulsive hiding behavior, redirection techniques can be effective. These techniques involve redirecting your dog’s attention to alternative activities or objects when they show signs of wanting to hide. For example, you can introduce interactive toys or engage in play sessions to distract your dog from their hiding tendencies.

Avoid punishing or scolding your dog for their hiding behavior, as this can increase their anxiety and worsen the problem. Instead, focus on positive reinforcement and reward your dog when they engage in desired behaviors or show confidence in new situations. Patience, consistency, and understanding are key in helping your dog overcome compulsive hiding behavior.

Example of Redirection Techniques:

  • Provide interactive toys or puzzles to keep your dog mentally stimulated.
  • Engage in regular training sessions to build your dog’s confidence and focus their energy.
  • Offer plenty of physical exercise to help release excess energy and reduce stress.
  • Create a calm and secure environment for your dog, with a designated safe space where they can retreat when needed.

Remember, if your dog’s hiding behavior persists or worsens despite your efforts, it is important to consult with a veterinarian or a professional animal behaviorist. They can provide personalized advice and develop a tailored behavior modification plan for your furry friend.

The Connection Between Boredom and Hiding Behavior

Dogs, like humans, can experience boredom if they lack mental and physical stimulation in their daily lives. Boredom in dogs can lead to the development of destructive behaviors, one of which is hiding objects. When dogs are not adequately entertained, they may seek alternative ways to keep themselves occupied, such as burying toys or treasures. Understanding the link between boredom and hiding behavior is crucial for pet owners to address this issue effectively.

Providing dogs with sufficient mental stimulation is key to preventing boredom and reducing the likelihood of hiding behavior. Interactive toys and puzzle games can keep dogs engaged and mentally challenged. Engaging in regular training sessions can also provide mental stimulation while strengthening the bond between dogs and their owners. Additionally, varying daily routines, such as introducing new walking routes or engaging in different activities, can help keep dogs mentally stimulated and prevent boredom.

“Boredom in dogs can lead to destructive behaviors, such as hiding objects. It’s essential for pet owners to provide mental and physical stimulation to prevent boredom and promote healthy behaviors.”

Regular exercise is another important aspect of preventing boredom in dogs. Engaging in physical activities, such as walks, runs, or play sessions, helps dogs release pent-up energy and reduce restlessness. It also promotes overall well-being and can contribute to a calmer and more contented demeanor. A tired dog is less likely to engage in destructive behaviors, including hiding objects.

By addressing and preventing boredom in dogs, pet owners can create an environment that promotes healthy behaviors and mental well-being. Providing ample mental and physical stimulation through interactive toys, training sessions, and regular exercise can help dogs lead fulfilling lives while reducing the chances of them resorting to hiding behavior out of boredom.

Benefits of Mental Stimulation in Dogs Ways to Provide Mental Stimulation
1. Reduces boredom and anxiety 1. Interactive toys
2. Prevents destructive behavior 2. Puzzle games
3. Enhances problem-solving skills 3. Training sessions
4. Strengthens the bond between dogs and owners 4. Varying daily routines

Encouraging Proper Toy Play

Encouraging your dog to engage in proper toy play is essential for their well-being and to prevent excessive hiding behavior. Here are some tips to help you create a positive toy play experience:

1. Trading Toys

Teach your dog to trade toys willingly by using positive reinforcement. Start with two toys of different values and offer one to your dog. When they show interest in the toy, use a cue word like “trade” and offer the higher-value toy as a reward for giving up the first toy. Repeat this process consistently, gradually increasing the value of the toys your dog needs to trade.

2. Accessible Toy Storage

Make sure your dog’s toys are easily accessible in a designated storage area. This will prevent them from feeling the need to hide toys around the house or yard. Use a container or basket to keep the toys organized and within reach for your dog whenever they want to play.

3. Preventing Toy Overuse

Limit the number of toys available to your dog at a given time to prevent overuse and hoarding behavior. Rotate the toys on a regular basis to keep your dog interested and engaged. This will also prevent them from getting bored with the same toys and seeking out alternative ways to entertain themselves.

Benefits of Encouraging Proper Toy Play Tips for Encouraging Proper Toy Play
1. Provides mental stimulation 1. Use positive reinforcement to encourage toy trading
2. Prevents excessive hiding behavior 2. Ensure toys are easily accessible in a designated storage area
3. Strengthens the bond between you and your dog 3. Limit the number of toys available at a time and rotate them regularly

By following these tips, you can promote healthy and appropriate toy play behavior in your dog while minimizing the urge to hide objects. Remember to always supervise your dog during playtime and provide them with safe and engaging toys to keep them mentally stimulated.

The Risk of Buried Bones

Buried bones can pose risks to the health of dogs. Once buried, bones begin to decompose and may become contaminated with harmful bacteria from the soil. If a dog retrieves and consumes a buried bone, they are at risk of experiencing gastrointestinal upset and other related health issues. It is important for pet owners to be aware of these risks and take steps to prevent their dogs from accessing buried bones.

The bacterial contamination that can occur on buried bones can lead to various health problems in dogs. One of the main concerns is the potential for gastrointestinal upset, which can manifest in symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. In some cases, the contamination can even lead to more serious conditions, such as sepsis or bacterial infections.

Pet owners should be cautious about giving their dogs bones to chew on, as even fresh bones can carry bacteria. It is best to opt for safe and appropriate alternatives for chewing, such as specially designed chew toys or dental treats. These options can help satisfy a dog’s natural urge to chew while minimizing the risk of bacterial contamination and associated health issues.


In conclusion, understanding dogs’ hiding behavior is essential for pet owners to provide a fulfilling and healthy environment for their furry friends. Dogs bury bones and other items as a result of their natural instincts inherited from their ancestors. This behavior served a purpose in the wild, protecting food and preserving it for leaner times. While burying behavior itself is typically harmless, it is important to be aware of the potential risks associated with burying bones and to provide safe alternatives for chewing.

Recognizing that excessive hiding behavior may be a sign of stress, it is advisable to seek veterinary advice if necessary. Through redirection techniques and appropriate mental stimulation, pet owners can help prevent the development of compulsive hiding behavior. Boredom can also contribute to hiding behavior, so ensuring dogs have enough mental and physical stimulation is crucial in preventing destructive behaviors.

Encouraging proper toy play and teaching dogs to willingly let go of objects can discourage excessive hiding. By providing accessible and tidy toy storage and limiting the number of toys available, pet owners can prevent hoarding and ensure toys are enjoyed to their fullest. Ultimately, by understanding and addressing dogs’ instincts and needs, pet owners can create a harmonious environment where dogs can thrive and engage in behaviors that are both natural and enjoyable.


Why do dogs bury bones?

Dogs bury bones as a natural instinct rooted in their ancestry to protect and preserve food.

What is the evolutionary purpose of burying bones?

Burying bones helped dogs in the wild protect their food from other animals and preserve it for leaner times.

Do dogs only bury bones?

No, dogs may also hide other valuable items such as toys or non-edible objects.

Can burying behavior be harmful to dogs?

Constant digging can lead to injuries to a dog’s paws, and burying bones can pose a risk to their digestive system.

Why do dogs bury toys?

Dogs bury toys as a natural instinct to protect and preserve valuable objects, and it can also be a way for them to initiate play or seek attention.

What should I do if my dog’s hiding behavior becomes compulsive?

It is recommended to seek advice from a veterinarian who can provide guidance and suggest redirection techniques to prevent compulsive behavior.

Can boredom contribute to hiding behavior in dogs?

Yes, dogs may hide objects when they are bored or seeking alternative ways to entertain themselves.

How can I encourage proper toy play and discourage hiding behavior?

Training your dog to trade toys and let go of objects willingly, keeping toys in an accessible storage area, and providing mental stimulation can help.

Are buried bones harmful to dogs?

Buried bones can pose risks to dogs’ health due to bacterial contamination and potential gastrointestinal upset.

What is the conclusion regarding dogs hiding behavior?

Understanding the reasons behind dogs’ hiding behavior can help address concerns and provide appropriate outlets for their instincts and energy.

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