That beautiful garden with its colourful flower beds that you have worked on for hours – no – days… Completely ruined since you brought your pup into the house. You come home after a long day and sit down on your couch. You find your dirty socks and the deer antler you gave before leaving this morning underneath a blanket next to you in your chair. Bones, toys, your slippers… She buries literally everything. You could almost organize a treasure hunt. 😅
Why does she always do that? She doesn’t have to hide anything from us! Will she ever find all those bones and toys back? Let’s take a look inside your dog’s mind and discover her motives for excavating your garden like a true archaeologist.
Wolf instinct 🐺
If we want to know why dogs bury food, we have to go back in time. Our domestic dogs now get their food served in a bowl at set times. Often even several times a day. Their ancestors weren’t so lucky! Wild dogs and wolves have to hunt before they have anything to eat. Obviously you don’t eat a freshly caught deer in one bite. So what do you do to prevent someone else from taking what’s yours? Bury and hide it!
Another advantage of burying your food is that it stays fresh longer. It protects the meat from the sun and prevents decomposition.
Like squirrels, dogs sometimes collect their food. They save it for later, when they get hungry. Unfortunately (or rather luckily) your four-legged friend probably never needs to stay hungry for long and you may end up with a seat full of buried treats… 😬
Many dogs also collect toys in their basket. They put what is dear to them in their nest, so no one else can reach it. The urge to bury things is so deeply rooted that when there is no way to bury something, they will push their noses across the floor or throw a blanket over the object.
How do dogs recover their bones? 🤔
A dog’s sense of smell is much stronger than that of a human being. Their nose works no less than 60 times better than ours! On top of that, they also breathe at a faster rate, so they take more different scents in faster. To know where the scent comes from, they use what we call ‘stereo smelling‘. Just like we hear in ‘stereo’ with our ears and can determine where sound is coming from, dogs locate the smell with their noses. Hungry dogs smell even better because their senses sharpen! If your dog has not buried her bone extremely deep, she will always be able to find it through smell. 😤
How do I stop my dog from digging?
Some dog breeds will dig more than others. If you have a hunting dog or a dog with a great hunting instinct, you can probably expect more holes than if you own a shepherd. The name ‘Terrier’ says enough. It originates from the French word ‘la terre’, which means ‘the earth’. Instincts run deep. You will never get it out completely and you shouldn’t want to! This is a form of enrichment for your dog. They are happy when they can follow their natural instincts. Punishing your dog for burying things is not a good idea. She doesn’t understand what she’s doing wrong, she just follows her intuition. 🐕
However, it is possible to keep the digging to a minimum with the help of these tips:
– Don’t give your dog a bone right after eating. She’s not hungry right now and may want to keep it (read: bury it) for later. By not giving too many treats, you also keep your dog from being overweight.
– Limit an abundance of toys. Give her one or two toys at a time so she doesn’t feel the urge to collect. To keep things interesting, you can switch toys every week.
– Reserve a spot in the yard where digging is okay. Make it clear to her that this is her place. Every time she digs elsewhere, you redirect her to the right spot.
– Turn it into a game. Teach your dog a command to bury something in a blanket, eg ‘dig’. Then ask her to retrieve the buried toy again.
– Sometimes dogs steal and bury things of which they know it’s important to their owner. You may have been giving your dog a little less attention recently because you couldn’t go on as many walks as usual. Consciously try to spend some extra time with her. ❤️
Do your dogs regularly bury things? How do you handle this?
Share your experience with us in the comments! ☺