Why Do Dogs Bury Bones? Should You Get Worried?

Why Do Dogs Bury Bones? Should You Get Worried?

Author WDF Staff


Dogs often show various behaviors that might surprise us. One of the things we associate with dogs is burying bones. But why do dogs bury bones? Many dog owners want to know the answer to that question, and we are among them. We were pretty certain it had something to do with their wild roots, but we weren’t entirely sure what. That’s why we decided to dig a bit deeper and learn the truth. Here’s why dogs bury bones.

Dogs in the wild bury food

Before we go into the behavior of the domesticated canines, we need to take a look at the past. Dogs come from wild animals that primarily relied on hunting and scavenging to get food. Food is not always waiting for them in the wild, and they have to go through a lengthy process to acquire it. They first had to detect it, then hunt it, and consume it before larger predators like bears, lions, or hyenas caught a scent.

There are a couple of reasons wild canids bury their food. The first one is to preserve it for later. Wild dogs live in packs, and when they catch something like a deer, they can’t eat everything in one “sitting.” However, since food is scarce, they wanted to make sure they get another meal in the near future. They used to bury the remaining carcasses to preserve them for future meals. They did the same with bones, which might be a trait that still remains with modern-day dogs.

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The second reason wild canids bury food is to protect it from other predators. They are usually not the only predator in the area. There are rival packs, bears, lions, jackals, birds of prey, and all sorts of competition that would be more than happy to steal some of their food. If they managed to bury the carcass pretty fast, they would mark the fresh meat’s scent. That means other predators couldn’t find it, and their next meal would be safe.

doberman digging

The third reason wild dogs buried their food is pretty surprising. However, the soil the meat was buried in kind of “marinated” it. In the dog’s eyes, that made the meat tastier. It included various flavors, and the meat actually absorbed some of the minerals from the ground. All in all, it was a healthy and practical thing to do in the wild.

Why do modern dogs bury bones?

It is true modern dogs don’t have to worry about their next meal. In fact, they get regular meals day after day. Some dogs even have full dog bowls all the time, which means food is always available. However, some modern dogs still bury their bones in the garden. Well, the truth is that dogs still consider food treasure. It is not uncommon for dogs to take a bit of their kibble and hide it in rooms and corners across the home. This behavior can be pretty irritating for owners. Still, it is something that can be expected and is considered pretty normal for dogs.

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Why do dogs bury other things?

Bones are often not the only thing dogs bury. They can bury different things they consider valuable. This is typical dog behavior. They might take toys or treats and hide them away from the rest of the family. If the dog lives strictly inside and doesn’t have a yard to dig up, they might not literally “dig” and “bury” things, but the core behavior might remain. It is not uncommon for dog owners to find doggy hiding spots underneath the couch or under their bed. Dogs can be considered hoarders. It is their instinct to keep valuable things safe. They want to make sure they’ll enjoy those things later.

husky digging

Can burying be a worrying sign?

In most cases, burying “treasures” like food or toys is not a reason for dog owners to worry. It is completely normal dog behavior. They are just following their instincts that tell them to bury things they consider valuable for later. It can be something edible, like food or bones, or it can be something like their favorite toy. In any case, most “burying” cases are nothing to worry about.

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However, some dogs start compulsively digging. In most extreme cases, dogs will dig until their paws become bloody. They will dig so intensely their paw pads get damaged. They can even get exposed to different chemicals and fertilizers in the soil, and they need veterinary intervention. These problems will usually require behavior management. Dogs will need training under supervision, and a dog behaviorist or a professional trainer can help your dog get over it.

World Dog Finder team

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