Understanding Canine Behavior: Why Do Dogs Bury Their Bones and Toys?

Understanding Canine Behavior: Why Do Dogs Bury Their Bones and Toys?

Ever wondered why your furry friend digs holes and buries their treasured items? This charming (though often perplexing) behavior harks back to their ancestors and offers a window into canine behavior. Let's delve into why dogs bury their bones and toys, and explore if it's a breed-specific trait.

The History of Burying Behavior in Dogs

The act of burying items can be traced back to the wild ancestors of our modern dogs. Before domestication:

  • Food Storage: Wild canines would bury surplus food to conceal it from scavengers. The earth acted as a natural refrigerator to keep the food fresh.
  • Survival Instinct: Burying food was also a survival instinct, ensuring there was something to eat during times of scarcity.

Why Dogs Bury Bones and Toys Today

Even though dogs have been domesticated for thousands of years, many still retain their ancestral instincts. Here are the reasons why dogs might bury their bones and toys:

  • Instinct: The drive to bury food and treasured items is hardwired into dogs from their wild ancestors.
  • Resource Guarding: Dogs may bury items as a form of resource guarding, ensuring their 'valuables' are safe from others.
  • Future Enjoyment: Dogs may also bury items for future enjoyment, much like their ancestors stored food for leaner times.


Is Burying Behavior Breed-Specific?

While many dogs display this behavior, it can be more pronounced in certain breeds:

  • Terriers: The word 'Terrier' comes from the Latin word 'terra' meaning earth. These breeds were designed to dig and burrow after underground critters, which can translate into a propensity for burying items.
  • Dachshunds: Known for their digging prowess, Dachshunds are likely to exhibit burying behaviors.
  • Beagles: Beagles, too, have a reputation for being diggers, making them more prone to burying things.


Potential Problems and Solutions

While this burying behavior is typically harmless, it can sometimes lead to issues:

  • Destruction of Property: Digging can destroy lawns or gardens. Train your dog to dig in a designated area to save your greenery.
  • Resource Guarding: If your dog becomes overly protective of their buried items, it can lead to aggressive behavior. Consult a professional trainer if you notice such signs.


How to Respond to Burying Behavior

Here are a few tips on how to handle a dog that loves to bury things:

  • Respect the Instinct: Understand that this behavior is a deeply ingrained instinct. Scolding or punishing your dog won't be helpful and can cause stress.
  • Provide Alternatives: Give your dog toys or puzzles that cater to their digging instincts without the need for actual burying.
  • Professional Training: If the behavior becomes problematic, consult with a professional dog trainer.


In conclusion, the behavior of dogs burying their bones and toys is a fascinating remnant of their wild heritage. While it can sometimes lead to minor issues, understanding and properly managing this instinct can ensure a happy pup and a happy home.


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