Dogs never cease to amaze us with their fascinating behaviors. Among these actions, the act of burying bones has captivated dog parents for generations. Have you ever found yourself wondering why your pup diligently digs a hole in the backyard or carefully stashes their prized possessions in the garden? Let’s go over the secrets behind this instinctive dog behavior, tracing its roots back to the wild ancestors of our beloved pups.

1. Why They Do It: Instincts from the Wild

Understanding this behavior takes us into little evolutionary journey. Domestic dogs share a common ancestry with wolves, and the practice of burying bones can be traced back to their wild instincts. In the wild, wolves buried surplus food to shield it from scavengers and create reserves for leaner times. This survival instinct has been passed down through generations, with specific breeds, such as Basset Hounds, Dachshunds, and Terriers, displaying a heightened inclination to bury toys and food due to their historical roles in digging for underground prey.

Moreover, dogs exhibit a hoarding mentality, a reflection of their pack instincts. Burying bones becomes a way for them to secure resources within their family “pack,” even if that pack comprises their human companions. Scent marking, another layer of this behavior, allows dogs to leave their mark on buried treasures, creating a connection through their acute sense of smell. In essence, your dog may be engaging in a complex dance of survival instincts and pack behavior when burying bones.

Additionally, dogs might resort to burying bones as a stress-relief mechanism during times of change, excitement, or anxiety. Just as humans save leftovers for later, dogs may bury bones for a future, more suitable time to enjoy their tasty treats.

2. When You Should Be Concerned

Now that we’ve uncover the mystery behind why dogs bury bones, let’s get into effective strategies to manage this behavior, especially when it seems like your garden is transforming into a doggy excavation site. The concept of resource abundance plays a crucial role here. Mimicking the natural ebb and flow of resources in the wild can help curb excessive burying tendencies.

Instead of giving more toys to keep them busy, limit the number of toys or bones available to your dog at any given time, providing just one or two and rotating them weekly. This not only prevents an overflow of resources but also stimulates your dog’s curiosity, preventing boredom. Timing is also crucial; avoid giving your dog a bone immediately after a meal when their stomach is full, as they are more likely to bury bones when resources are in surplus. Engaging in interactive play fosters a stronger bond and reinforces the idea that resources are shared, discouraging hoarding behavior.

Consider the breed-specific tendencies related to digging. Breeds originally bred for digging may display more confidence in burying behavior. Understanding these breed nuances can further aid in managing your dog’s natural instincts.

3. What to Do About It: Should You Worry?

While burying things is a natural and instinctive behavior, considering potential concerns and taking proactive measures is essential for a harmonious household.

Potential Concerns:

a. Paw and Nail Injuries: Digging in areas with a rigid substrate can lead to abrasions and discomfort for your furry friend.

b. Indoor Damages: Burying behavior may extend indoors, resulting in damage to items like pet beds and couch cushions.

c. Stress for Both: Constant worry about belongings and disapproval can create stress for both pet parents and their dogs.

What to Do:

a. Do NOT Create a Designated Digging Area: Do NOT redirect your dog’s instincts by providing a designated digging spot in your backyard filled with loose soil or sand if you don’t want to encourage that behavior or if your dog starts obsessing about it. 

b. Understanding Breed-Specific Behavior: Recognize that certain breeds are more inclined to bury items and tailor your approach accordingly. 

c. Work the breed out: If your dog’s breed encourages this behavior and you have a family dog, work on behavior training to start working the obsessive side of the breed out of your dog.. Certain breeds are prone to obsessions. Have in mind that breed was created by humans not by nature

d. Implement Behavior Training: Help your dog regulate compulsive behaviors by teaching self control and self management.

e. Supervision and Management: Keep an eye on your dog, intervening when needed and reinforcing boundaries. 

In conclusion the mystery behind why dogs bury bones lies in their deep-rooted instincts inherited from their wild ancestors.

While this behavior is natural and instinctive, it’s crucial for pet parents to be aware of potential concerns and take proactive measures for a harmonious household. Paw and nail injuries, indoor damages, and stress for both the pet and owner are important factors to take into considerations. Managing this behavior involves a thoughtful approach, considering breed-specific tendencies, resource abundance, interactive play and behavior training if needed.

Effective strategies, such as limiting the number of toys, understanding breed nuances, and engaging in behavior training, can help strike a good balance.

© Gabriel Riesco, Pawmos Dog Training LLC |   All Rights Reserved Dec 2023