Why the Heck Do Dogs Bury Bones?

Dogs are instinctual animals that have habits that humans cannot understand at times. One of those habits is digging holes all over their owners’ yard and burying bones or other items. Burying bones may be for a variety of different reasons that for the most part does not cause harm to the dog itself. It may, however, cause disruption to the owner’s home or yard. This article will go over a few of the frequently asked questions about why do dogs bury bones to how to prevent them from digging in the future.

What Kinds of Items Do Dogs Bury?

A short answer to this would be the items they find valuable and things they enjoy. Items such as bones, treats, toys, beds, blankets, etc. can mean the world to your pup.

To know the kinds of items a dog might bury, you have to “think canine”. What would your dog do? Or in this case, what would your dog bury? Think of a day in the life of your dog. A Labrador would probably enjoy keeping her favorite stick. An Australian Cattle Dog might find something gross from the shed to keep for later. A Dachshund might want to bury his toys in the couch cushions. A hungry pooch might want to save a few kibbles of dog food for later. A sleepy pup might want to keep her bed hidden so it is just where she left it for safekeeping when she is ready for that next snooze.

It all revolves around what a dog wants to keep safe for later enjoyment.

Is it harmful?

Hoarding behavior might be a mental disorder in the human mind, but that doesn’t affect a dog’s mentality in the same as it does with humans. Possible harm would be physical and not mental with dogs burying bones. A dog could potentially harm him/herself by digging too aggressively. This could lead to something as simple as a broken nail that might need to be trimmed back and glued by the veterinarian or something as serious as a strained tendon or ligament.

For the most part, dogs burying their bones is not a harmful activity for them.

So Why Do Dogs Bury Bones?

It’s simple: Dogs like to bury things that are valuable to them. Bones just happens to be top on the list and the most portrayed item by Hollywood. Dogs like to make sure the things that matter to THEM the most are kept in a safe place. Humans like to keep their valuables in safe places. It is not any different with your four-legged members of the family. They want to make sure “Mom”, “Dad”, “Sister” or “Brother” does not take them away before they are finished with them. Or that they are where they can find them when they want them for later.

It can also go back to their ancestral past that they need to save that food for later when there is no food to be found. A dog might save that extra bone or treat if you happen to have just fed them. At that moment they are not hungry, but they will be hungry later and that special item will be right where they left it.

Picture this – Disney style:

The picture is painted by Disney in many movies. One movie is the romance between a well-trained Cocker Spaniel and a stray dog. For the sake of this article though, we are not focusing on either of them, but the Scottish Terrier, Jock. At the beginning of the movie, Jock is being very stealthy to take a newly acquired bone to his very secret place in the bushes of a fence line.

Jock is so excited he is humming a little song while he is re-digging up his favorite spot.  Then, there is the pile of exposed bones from several previous digging adventures. Jock hears Lady approaching and sits right down on the hole to cover the pile of exposed bones and hide them from Lady! Lady is showing off her new collar and trying to start a conversation with Jock. Meanwhile, Jock is very sneakily re-covering his pile of bones as to not allow Lady to see his secret stash or his secret hiding place. It is a perfect picture of a dog burying bones.

How to Prevent Dogs From Digging?

To know how to stop your dog from digging holes in your yard, it is important to know why they are doing it in the first place.

If it is out of boredom, seeking attention, comfort, or protection then there are steps that can be taken to help them defer their attention to another activity. If it is out of boredom and the dog is a very active one, then try giving the canine toys and engagement activities to do other than digging. You can also try walking your four-legged friend twice a day to help relieve some of that built-up energy.

If your canine is seeking attention give him/her the opposite and ignore them while they are digging. Instead, give them your attention at certain times of the day during playtime and when they are doing what you would like. For a dog that may be searching for comfort or protection, you may find them engaged in behavior such as digging a hole to lay in the coolness of the Earth. Try giving your pet a cool place to lay down and always have water accessible.

If none of these tips seem to detour your pet or there is another motive for their digging, making a designated area for them to dig could make all the difference in the appearance of your yard. When all else fails, seek the guidance of a local Brevard County dog trainer who has the skill and experience with helping pet parents and their dogs overcome this challenging behavior.

To keep your four-legged baby from digging into your couch while you are at work, give Space Coast Pet Services a call to keep your pup busy during the day. There is no need to come home to a destroyed home when you have us!





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