Picture of a dog burying a hole in grass

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Have you ever noticed your dog burying things? Dogs often exhibit strange behaviors, but one of the most common is burying things. You can find your dog burying everything from a bone to their food, and you’ve probably wondered more than once, “Why do dogs like to bury things?”

Some of the most common reasons why dogs bury things include instinct, security, boredom, or even to get your attention. While burying things isn’t necessarily a bad habit, the constant digging can be destructive to your backyard and harmful to your pup. So, it’s important to know why dogs bury things so you can stop this strange behavior before it gets any worse.

If you’re curious about why dogs bury bones, food, toys, and other household items, this article is for you. Continue reading to learn more about this stereotypical dog behavior below and how to stop your dog from burying things.

Why do dogs bury things: Instinct, security, anxiety, boredom, caching, attention, breed

7 Reasons Why Dogs Bury Things

So, why do dogs bury stuff? There are a few reasons why you might notice your dog burying his bone. Some of the most common reasons why dogs bury some of their favorite items include:

1. Instinct

One of the most common reasons why dogs bury their items is due to instinct.1 This means that dogs might be intrinsically bred to bury some of their favorite items, so they may simply like to bury things out of context.

While dogs like to bury many typical dog items, including bones and food, there might be some situations where dogs bury other items that you might need, such as your shoes. If you notice that your dog buries items regularly, you may need to keep a closer eye on them to make sure your favorite items don't go missing.

2. Security

Another common reason why dogs might bury items is due to security. This means that dogs may want to bury some of their favorite items because they don't want to lose them.2 Or, if they know there is another dog nearby, they may feel like they can hide their items from the other dogs by burying them in the ground.

If you ever notice that your dog goes back to the same spot repeatedly to dig up an item that he or she has buried, this could be a sign that your dog is simply burying items to protect them from others. Security is one of the most common reasons dogs bury their favorite items. 

If your dog feels neglected, they may turn to burying things as a way to cope with their anxiety

3. Anxiety

Like people, dogs can also develop mental health issues like anxiety. Dog anxiety could cause your dog to start to bury certain items.2 When dogs get anxious, they often return to behaviors that they find the most comfortable, and this could cause them to start burying things. 

Dogs could also bury items out of anxiety because they worry they might lose them. Anxiety can cause dogs to worry more than they should, and to ease their anxiety, they may decide to dig a hole in the ground and bury some of their favorite items in there. 

4. Boredom

Do dogs get bored? Yes, there is a chance that your dog might get bored, and this boredom could cause them to bury items. If your dog has nothing else to do, they might ease the boredom by burying items they find around the yard or the house.

Boredom might cause your dog to bury items if you are not home often. If your dog does not have a companion to play with while you’re away, they might get bored and decide to bury items to keep them entertained.

5. Caching

If you find your dog burying various items in your backyard, they might be engaging in a behavior known as caching. Dogs often bury rawhides, bones, or toys in the backyard. If you find multiple items in the same hole, it’s likely due to caching.

Various animals exhibit this behavior, not just dogs. Your dog is storing these items for later use. In the wild, animals will do this with their food supplies to ensure they have food during the winter. In this case, your dog is storing those items and saving them for later when they need them. 

6. Attention

Your dog might also be burying items as a cry for attention and if your dog feels like you are not paying enough attention to them, they might start burying items because they know it will make you pay attention to them. 

If you find that your dog is burying your personal items, this could be a cry for attention. Your dog might want you to spend more time with them, and by burying your items, your dog knows that you will immediately start paying better attention.

7. Breed

Finally, your dog might be burying items simply because their specific breed is more prone to this behavior. Some dog breeds predisposed to this behavior include Dachshunds and Standard Schnauzers.1 These breeds originally bred for hunting purposes, and burying items is a behavior that is intrinsic to them.

These are just a few of the most common reasons your dog might decide to bury items, so what should you do to stop this behavior? 

Prevent your furry friend from burying things by rotating their toys regularly, providing ample attention, and getting the help of a dog trainer.

How To Stop Your Dog From Burying Things

So, why do dogs bury things, and how can you stop this behavior?

If you want to stop your dog from burying things, there are a few tips you may want to follow. They include:

  • Rotate your dog’s toys: Dogs tend to bury their toys when they have been using them for a long time. As your dog continues to use the same toy, they will become more attached to it, which could lead to your dog burying that item as a way to save it and preserve it for later. If you would like to stop this behavior, consider rotating your dog's toys from time to time.1 That way, your dog always has something new to play with, and they won’t feel like they have to bury the toy to protect it.
  • Give your dog more attention: You may also want to give your dog more attention if you want them to stop burying things. Remember that dogs will often bury their items if they want more attention from their owner. So, you need to prioritize playing with your dog and teaching them tricks to keep them entertained.2 Or, if other family members are in the house, encourage them to take the dog on more walks.
  • Get a playmate: If you feel like you’re not home enough to play with your dog as much as they deserve, you may want to consider adopting another dog, as long as you can adequately care for both of them. If you cannot adopt another dog, you may want to consider taking your dog to a doggy daycare from time to time. If your dog has another friend to play with, they might not bury items as often. 
  • Go to the local dog park: You may also want to consider taking your dog to the local dog park. Dog park behavior may require some training, but if you take your dog to the park often, they should be able to release some energy. That way, you don't have to worry about your dog burying items when you get home. 
  • Consider getting a dog trainer: If you are wondering why dogs dig in bed and what you can do to stop it, it might be time to get a dog trainer. You probably don’t want your dog to keep ripping up their bed, and with dog obedience training, you might be able to stop this behavior for good.
  • Take your dog to the vet: Finally, the reason your dog is digging might be due to a health issue.2 There is a chance that your dog may have a mental health issue that needs to be addressed, such as anxiety. Your veterinarian may be able to work with you to customize a treatment plan to meet the needs of your dog, or there might even be some medication that could be helpful. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Do dogs remember where they bury things?

Yes, it is not unusual for dogs to remember exactly where they buried their items. Keep in mind that dogs have a very strong sense of smell, so even if they bury an item in the ground, they should be able to smell where they placed it and can retrieve the item later. You might see your dog routinely burying items, unburying them to use them again, and then burying them when they want to put them away. 

Is it normal for dogs to bury things?

It is normal for dogs to bury items. While not all dogs or dog breeds will engage in this behavior, some breeds are predisposed to burying items. Regardless, just about any dog may decide to bury things from time to time, and some of the most common reasons dogs bury their items include security, instinct, and boredom. 

Can I train my dog to stop burying things?

There are various ways to train your dog to stop burying things, but a good first step is to figure out the root cause of the issue. To answer this question, you may want to reach out to a professional veterinarian or trainer who can help figure out why your dog is burying things. 

Picture of a dog burying a toy in the sand

Final Notes

Why do dogs bury stuff? There are many reasons why dogs bury things, but some of the most common reasons include boredom, anxiety, and security. If you want to stop this behavior and prevent your backyard from getting destroyed any further, you may want to contact a veterinary professional, which you can do with Dutch.

At Dutch, we can provide the care you need to stop your dog from burying things in your backyard. Whether it’s due to boredom or anxiety, Dutch vets can determine the root cause of your dog’s behaviors. 

If you want to learn more about your dog's behaviors or have concerns about your pet’s medical care, we can assist you. Call us today to speak to our team, and let us help you care for your furry friend!

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References

  1. Lotz, K. (2018, April 12). Why do dogs bury bones? the answer is surprisingly simple. American Kennel Club. Retrieved February 23, 2023, from https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/training/why-do-dogs-bury-bones/.

  2. Kearl, M. (2020, May 11). Why does my dog hide things? reasons why your dog is hiding items. American Kennel Club. Retrieved February 23, 2023, from https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/training/why-is-my-dog-hiding-things/.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who is Dutch?

Dutch is an online veterinary pet telehealth service, created by pet parents and board-certified veterinary specialists. We use a science-backed approach to provide pets relief for their everyday physical and behavioral health issues. Dutch connects you with licensed veterinarians over video chat and messaging to help you get care for your dog or cat quickly wherever you are — without the stress or expense of a vet visit. We also partner with pharmacies who can deliver prescription medication (in applicable states only) and over-the-counter treatments directly to your door. Dutch isn’t a veterinary practice or pharmacy, but a company that helps facilitate these services for pet parents to make veterinary care more accessible to all.

What is a visit with Dutch like?

When booking a video call with a vet, you'll be asked a few questions about your pet’s health issue. Depending on the issue, you may also be asked to fill out a longer questionnaire about their symptoms and share photographs of them so our veterinarians can better understand what’s going on. You’ll then pick an appointment time that works best for you.

During your video call, one of our licensed veterinarians will talk to you about the symptoms your pet is experiencing, ask you questions, review your pet’s medical history if you’ve provided it, and answer any questions you have. The vet will ask to see your pet and their environment. And they may ask you to perform some simple checks on them if needed.

After your video call, the vet will send you a message with a custom treatment plan to help your pet feel better, including a link to buy any recommended prescription or over-the-counter medications. Place your order and we’ll ship it free.

How much will it cost for Dutch to treat my pet?

The Dutch membership starts at $12/mo for unlimited access to the vet. No more long waits for appointments or surprise bills.

In addition to the base membership plan, our veterinarians may also recommend additional medication (Rx and/or OTC) that you will have the option of adding to your plan at an additional cost.