Why Do Dogs Bury Bones


Is your yard starting to look like a graveyard for bones? If it’s of any consolation, you are not the only dog owner with a yard like that. Burying bones is common dog behavior. Why do dogs bury bones?

Dogs bury bones because of a natural instinct passed down by their ancestors. Digging and then burying food is a way to protect the captured resources from other animals. Dogs will hide and bury things they find vulnerable to protect them from lurkers.

When it comes to food, most of the behavior we see in dogs has its roots in the instincts dogs have. Here we’ll talk about the instinct that’s responsible for the burying.

Protecting Food From Other Animals

Protecting Food From Other Animals

 

You may be wondering what is in your yard that your dog feels like it should hide bones. Dogs do not have to feel threatened to bury their bones. Nor, do they have to share the yard with another dog or pet. Digging holes to hide food is an instinctive behavior.

In the wild, the dog’s ancestors, besides hunting prey, had to hide the prey from other animals. There are a lot of animals that don’t hunt prey but steal it from other predators. Just like hyenas, these animals were actually a serious threat. Dog’s ancestors had to adapt somehow so they started hiding their food in holes. [Source]

These survival strategies were passed down generation after generation. Even though we domesticated dogs, they are not separated from those instincts. That’s why your dog is digging holes in your yard and hiding the bones you gave it in the holes.

Something has to set off the dog to exhibit behavior like burying bones. Most of the time the dog just looks at the bones like something valuable or a resource it will need.

[Related Article: Why Do Dogs Roll In The Grass]

Saving Extra Food

The pack sometimes came upon meals that they couldn’t finish at once. If they caught more than one of the prey animals, that was more than enough to feed the whole pack. Extra resources could be stolen, as we made clear earlier, so they had to hide that somehow.

Try to notice if your dog is burying bones only when it’s already full. That could be the reason it’s doing instinctive behavior like hiding bones. When your dog is full, it sees the bone as a resource that it can save for later on.

You may have noticed your dog first chewing on the bone and later on, it buries it. Your dog may be getting full at a certain point so it can’t finish the bone fully. If that happens, it will probably hide the bone for later.

Bones Are Valuable

Bones Are Valuable

Dogs will bury more than just bones. They bury things they see as valuable. If your dog’s meal consists mostly of dry dog food, it may see bones as a treat it rarely gets. So, that bone is of much more value than regular dog food.

It’s an instinctive behavior for most mammals to take care of things they find valuable. It’s the same with us, if you see something of value, you aren’t willing to share it or let it go. That’s why dogs will hide more than just their bones, they will hide toys, shoes, and other objects they find valuable. [Source]

If you think that this is the reason why your dog is burying bones, consider offering bones to your dog more often. Maybe the bone will lose value for the dog if it gets it more often. Be careful not to overfeed your dog though.

Dogs Hide Food From Other Pets

Now, although dogs don’t necessarily bury bones when they feel threatened, sometimes that is the case. Do you have more than one dog in your house? Are there any other pets that the dog may see as competition? If so, that may be the reason why your dog is hiding bones.

Dogs often get jealous of other pets. Even though the dog loves the other pet as a sibling when it comes to food it gets competitive. If you have multiple pets you must have noticed this.

If your dog feels like its food supply is threatened by another mate, it will hide its food, most of the time in dug holes. You need to make sure that the dog understands that its food won’t be stolen. Don’t allow other pets to interfere with your dog while it’s eating.

How To Stop Dog From Burying Bones

Regardless of the reason for your dog’s behavior, you just want to save your yard. Understandably so,  all that digging will turn a yard into a construction site. What can you do to stop your dog from burying bones?

  • Don’t give your dog a bone on a full stomach. 
    If your dog is full, it will look at the bone as an extra resource it needs to hide instead of food it needs to eat immediately.
  • Don’t give your dog a bone when other pets or dogs are around. 
    Make sure the dog feels safe while chewing on that bone.
  • Give your dog bones more often. 
    If your dog is rarely getting bones, it will savor them as much as it can. Consider giving your dogs more bones if you think that’s why it’s digging holes in your yard.
  • Don’t give more than one toy at a time if your dog is burying them.
    If your dog is hiding toys, it may be doing that because it has too much on hand.

[Related Article: Why Do Dogs Roll In Poop]

Related Questions And Other FAQs

Do Dogs Remember Where They Bury Their Bones

Yes, dogs can remember where they hid their bones. Even if the dog does not remember the exact location, it can pinpoint it using its memory and smell.

Why Do Dogs Suddenly Start Burying Bones

If your dog hasn’t been burying bones but it starts doing that behavior all of a sudden, something is setting of that natural instinct to hide food. Dogs will hide their bones when they are already full, to hide them from other pets, and to savior something valuable.

Tim Adams

Tim has experience of 15 years with a wide variety of pets. Anything animal-related is his passion, so he is here to share some good practices to know about owning pets.

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