Canine Hoarders: Why Do Dogs Bury Food?

Why do dogs bury food? It’s actually a natural behavior, and the answer seems to be 1 part personality, 1 part territorial instinct.

If your dog is shy, he may bury his food so he can eat it later without other dogs — or even humans — around. By: seannaber

According to the book Why Do Dogs Do That?, wild dogs learn early in life that food may be hard to come by. So when they find a feast, they do the smart thing: bury some of it to enjoy later.

Dogs “Cache” Their Food

Kind of like setting up a food bank, this practice is called caching. Wolves and foxes also share this behavior.

Perhaps domesticated dogs are already equipped with an innate notion that being fed regularly is a sign of leaner times coming. They may bury food so they can be assured of having something to munch on later. Not to worry, though: A canine’s digestive system is built for eating foods that have been buried a while.

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Even Indoor Dogs Bury Stuff

An indoor dog may hide a piece of food under throw rugs or furniture cushions. This is common behavior. Dogs have pretty good memories, so it’s a safe bet they’ll be back later to retrieve their buried treat.

Witness this Dalmatian in bone-burying action in this video:

If a dog does not feel safe at the moment, he may tend to bury his food — which is a way to keep others from getting those morsels before he can eat them. Meanwhile, shy dogs may prefer eating alone. If other animals are around, they may choose to bury their food simply so they can enjoy it later.

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Although you may assume that food hoarding is caused by your pet’s dislike of certain foods, chances are if he doesn’t like something, he just won’t eat it.

Burying Food Doesn’t Generally Signal a Health Problem

Medical problems of any nature are not likely reasons for the food-burying habit. Animals with a health problem will generally ignore their food completely. If they don’t feel well enough to eat it, they certainly can’t muster up enough strength to bury it.

So, if you’re wondering why do dogs bury their food, rest assured that in most cases it is simply a combination of your dog’s personality and certain territorial factors.

On the off-chance that food hiding is an ongoing problem with your pet, try feeding him in a different location or maybe at a different time.

Gayle Hickman

View posts by Gayle Hickman
Gayle Hickman has been researching and writing about pet behaviors since 2011. In addition to Petful, her articles have appeared on Reader's Digest, Yahoo Shine and WebVet, to name a few.

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