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Why Do Dogs Bury Things?

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If you’re a dog owner, chances are that you’ve given your beloved pooch a treat or a brand new toy. Instead of sitting down quietly to eat it or play with it, they pad away to bury it somewhere else. But why exactly do dogs bury things?

There are four main reasons as to why dogs like to bury things. It can be part of their instinct to do so, their breed may be naturally predisposed to doing this, they could be doing so out of boredom, or they could be burying things out of anxiety.

Let’s take a closer look at each one to learn more about why dogs like to bury things.

Anxious

For some dogs, digging can be a self soothing behavior. So if your pup is feeling particularly stressed or anxious, this could explain why they start digging to hide things. This digging can help to calm them down. 

If your dog doesn’t feel safe in the area they are typically fed in or in the moment, chances are that they’re burying their food so that they can eat it at another time when they do feel more comfortable. This is likely to be the case if you have several dogs. 

To help improve this behavior, you should try and feed your dogs on a consistent schedule. You should also take steps to make them feel safer, such as feeding different dogs in different areas of the home so they won’t feel so anxious about burying their food.

If this behavior does continue, you should consult with your vet.

Bored

Any dogs that aren’t getting the right amount of stimulation in their day-to-day life are more likely to start digging out of boredom.

Your dog will need some way to get rid of all that adorable energy, and sometimes they will choose to bury things such as your TV remote. They may do this to get your attention, or even just to add some variety to their day-to-day routine.

Instinct

It is thought that a dog’s love of digging is an instinct that has remained from their ancestors the gray wolf and wild dogs. In their natural habitats, food could be scarce.

This meant that the wild dogs or wolves would have to bury excess food for safekeeping in their dens so that they would be able to find their next meal.

Interestingly, the soil acts as a natural refrigeration system. The food is protected from direct sunlight so it won’t spoil as quickly, and the deeper the hole, the colder the food will be. This ensures that the wild dogs’ food stayed fresher for longer so they could easily dig it back up again for sustenance.

Another instinctual factor to consider is that some dogs like to bury things they feel are valuable. So if your dog is burying their favorite toys or other objects, chances are they’re just trying to keep them protected.

Specific breeds

If you find that some dogs in your household are more likely to bury things than the others, this may be partially down to their breed. There are actually several different breeds that are more inclined to dig and bury their food or toys.

Some of these include dachshunds, terriers, beagles, miniature schnauzers, and basset hounds.

For example, dachshunds were bred to dig down holes to chase badgers. This little sausage dog is more likely to be found burrowing into your blankets than down badger holes nowadays, but they haven’t lost the propensity for digging.

Another fantastic example is cairn terriers. These dogs have been bred to hunt and chase small game. They still haven’t lost this natural digging ability, and can even use this to save their bones as part of their normal behavior.

Do dogs remember where they bury things?

Dogs do remember where they bury things, yes! This is because they have to use two types of memory when it comes to remembering where they buried things: associative and spatial. 

A dog’s spatial memory will help them to remember where exactly they have left each of the things that they have buried. A dog’s associative memory helps them to remember things such as certain smells and sights in the same area where they buried the items. 

With these two types of memory working together, your dog can easily remember exactly where they have buried things such as food. 

What breed of dog likes to bury things?

There are several breeds of dogs that like to bury things. We’ve mentioned a couple of them above: dachshunds, terriers, beagles, miniature schnauzers, and basset hounds are a few of the dog breeds that like to bury things.

Other breeds that like to bury things include Siberian huskies, Australian shepherds, malamutes, and border collies.

It’s also important to remember that because of the domestic dog’s ancestors, each and every breed will have some kind of affinity with digging.

The breeds that we’ve mentioned above might just be slightly more inclined to dig than others.

What does it mean when dogs bury toys?

If you have more than one dog in your home, you may notice that one of them likes to bury their toys. This is because dogs who share space with other canines feel they have to compete with each other for things like food and toys.

So your dog is likely burying their toys because they want to keep hold of their prized possessions and prevent the other dogs from taking them.

Dogs who don’t have any canine companions may also display this behavior mostly out of instinct.

In summary

So there you have it! You now know that dogs like to bury things for a variety of reasons. These can include feelings of anxiety, stress, or boredom.

Dogs also like to bury things that they find valuable. It could even be because of their natural instincts from wild dogs and gray wolves. Or it could be because you have a breed of dog that’s more inclined towards digging than others.