Find out why your dog buries bones and other items, and what you can do about it.
If you’ve ever found your dog’s favourite toy in a hole in the backyard, or watched them try to hide a bone in the washing basket, don’t be alarmed. Burying things is not only perfectly normal canine behaviour, it’s driven by an innate survival instinct.
Our pet dogs’ wild ancestors buried food because it allowed them to hide it from other animals and return to eat it later. Today’s domestic dogs haven’t lost the urge to conceal and protect items of value (or to dig up other dogs’ spoils when they sniff them out), but these days those prized possessions are more likely to be toys, treats and even treasures sneakily borrowed from their owners.
Stopping your dog burying things
The easiest way to discourage your dog from burying things is to avoid giving them food and treats that they can’t finish quickly, such as large chew bones. But if you don’t want to deny your dog the occasional juicy bone, take it away when you see them get up and leave it or if it looks like they’re scouting for a place to bury it.
If your dog growls or reacts aggressively when you try to take a bone away, consult your veterinarian or a qualified trainer as soon as possible. This behaviour is known as resource guarding, and it can escalate if not addressed.
Some dogs will continue to find things to bury, in which case you could consider giving up a section of the garden, or even building a designated garden bed, where they can indulge their hobby.
While in most cases burying things is purely your dog’s attempt to keep their stuff safe, it can sometimes be a sign of other issues. Some dogs dig holes and/or bury objects when they’re bored or are worried about being home alone. If your dog spends a lot of time by itself, make sure you’re leaving lots of enrichment toys and activities to keep them mentally stimulated throughout the day.