Have you ever caught your dog frantically digging and scratching a hole or even an imaginary hole – in the bed, blanket or couch – inside, with a devious look on his face? If so, you’re not alone as pet parents across the nation have probably experienced this phenomenon at least once while in their dog’s presence. So, what’s all the fuss about? If you’re like many pet parents, you shower your pets with an abundance of toys and treats, but why would there be any reason for him to try to bury or hide his toys?

Dogs bury food, chew bones, toys and prey. This behavior was once key to the survival of dogs’ wild ancestors because it allowed them to leave food safely concealed and then return to eat it later.1

Instinct

Since dogs evolved from wolves many, many years ago, their instinct compels them to this day to bury or hide things that they feel they’ll need for later, including your favorite pair of socks, new shoes or comfy sweatshirt. Oh, but not to worry, though, this instinct is quite normal, especially if your furry friend shares a home with other four-legged roommates. Dogs sharing a space with other dogs may feel the need to compete for food or toys and, thus hide or bury their prized possessions.

Dogs living in single dog abodes can also demonstrate this behavior, again, simply out of instinct. Remember dogs’ ancestors, the wolves? Well, they would bury items, particularly food and bones as they often didn’t know when their next meal would come. In this way, the wolves ensured that they would have more than enough food after their trek through the rugged terrain.

It’s not surprising that our domesticated dogs still feel the urge to dig. If a dog wants to bury something, she digs a hole, places the item in the hole, and then uses her nose to cover the item with dirt.1

Toys, Toys, and More Toys, Oh My!

If you notice that your dog is hiding or burying several toys and frequently, this is a sign that he may have too many toys. And what dog wouldn’t want to have that problem, right? Well, remember that wolves would bury or hide any excess food for later, so take this into consideration as you put out toys for your furry pal. As a best practice, it would serve you both well to only put a small assortment of toys out so that your dog doesn’t hide or bury his entire collection!

Rule Out Destructive Behavioral Issues

Now, if your dog’s digging is coupled with separation anxiety or any other unwanted behavior, you might want to contact your vet or a professional dog trainer for additional advice and best practices, to avoid destructive behavior.

For more information on digging and to rule out any negative behavioral digging, check out the below link to the ASPCA’s best practices for why dogs dig.

Sources:

  1. http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/virtual-pet-behaviorist/dog-behavior/digging

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