I’ve noticed a common trope in cartoons where dogs will take anything they find and bury it somewhere and it got me wondering as towhy they like to bury their bones and toys, getting themselves, their treats, and our yards all dirty! There are actually a few reasons!
One particular reason is that it’s just your dog’s instincts! In the wild, burying their food is a way wild animals keep food safe for later. When an animal in the wild couldn’t finish their meal, they’d bury as to prevent someone else from finding it and eating it and also as a way to protect the food from the outside elements. By burying their food, they were protecting it from rotting in the sun and were preserving it to finish at a later time. It’s like a dog’s version of a safety deposit box! Even though your dog is fed every day, probably multiple times, it’s still in their instincts to bury and protect their prized possessions, like their food!
However, your dog may also be digging up your yard out of pure boredom! If your dog is not stimulated enough -- like if they aren’t getting enough exercise or they aren’t being played with enough -- they may dig holes and bury bones as a way to entertain themselves. After all, when they discover and dig that bone up again it’s like a big reward!
To help prevent your dog from digging up every inch of your yard, you can mimic the act of burying and rediscovering their toys by burying their toys and bones under blankets or pillows or even in nature by hiding it under leaves or sticks! There are many ways to ensure your dogs are tapping into that natural instinct without allowing them to destroy your property.
In contrast, your dogs can also be burying bones and toys because they areoverstimulated. If you are providing too many things at once, whether it’s too many toys or bones, your dog may bury their things so that they can enjoy one item at a time. Additionally, if your dogs are simply just stressed, they may dig holes as a way to self-soothe themselves as the act of digging is calming to them.
Dogs, like humans, can get overwhelmed easily so it’s important to make sure you are creating a safe and calming environment for them. This may mean providing only one toy or treat to play with and enjoy at a time or simply creating an environment that is comfortable. You can do this by creating a schedule that you follow and removing your dog from any situations that may cause them stress.
Although every dog may tap into that ancestral desire to bury their prized find so they can save it for later, there are several common dog breeds that are more likely to bury their bones, including:
- Australian Shepherd
- Basset Hound
- Bedlington Terrier
- Border Collie
- Cairn Terrier
- Miniature Schnauzer
- Siberian Husky
We all love our dogs and we want them to live out their wild dog dreams as best as they can, but that doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice your yard to keep them content! There are other ways to let them fill that ancestral need and as long as you target the source of the issue, you are sure to keep both yourself and your pup happy!
Photo by Lucy Meadows
Written by Dani Forte