When you want a snack, you go to the fridge. Dogs are not quite so lucky. Pups do not have fridges. Or salt to preserve food. Why do dogs bury bones? It is the K9 solution to a timeless problem.
No One Wants to Share Their Leftovers
You spend all day hunting a wild T – Bone steak and eat your fill. You are left with a tasty bone that is filled with even more delicious marrow. What do you do? You put it in the fridge.
If you want to make sure your roommate will not eat your left overs, you put your name on it. In the fridge it is safe. With your name on it, everyone knows it is yours. Dogs think the exact same way.
Before refrigeration, people used to dig a hole in the ground and store food in the cool soil. Names varied, but most commonly it was called a Root Cellar. The intent was to store root vegetables, fruits and nuts for the winter. Before we had electricity and refrigerators, we went under ground.
Dogs are a smart bunch. They know that burying a bone a bone will help protect and keep food longer. Digging and rubbing a snout in the dirt will mark the hole with a dogs scent. This is your dogs lunchbox full of tasty leftovers for later.
Why do dogs bury bones? One main reason is to make sure no one else goes after their late night snack. We borrowed (stole) this idea from dogs. Soil is cooler than the air and prevents food from baking in the sun.
Digging is not only for Grub
The act of burying a bone is not just about preservation. It is about keeping valuables safe. Just like an underground safe, dogs know that leaving something out can be taken. A stuffed animal can be very valuable to your dog.
You will commonly find dogs bury bones, toys, ropes and balls. Anything a dog wants to keep safe can go underground. You will be surprised when your dog acts like they found a time capsule when an old toy is unearthed. Everyone loves surprises.
Monkey See, Monkey Do!
Digging may come naturally for some pups. But not all. Dogs are social animals and learn from other dogs. If you have one dog in your neighborhood that likes to bury hidden treasure, so will your dog.
We often forget that dogs learn from people too. Ever wonder why your puppy will destroy your garden or flower pots? You are burying something you want for later, and your dog knows this. After witnessing you planting or burying things your dog will catch on.
Every generation of domestication makes it less and less likely a dog will dig to bury food. Especially if you don’t take away food and toys from your puppy. This can be influenced by having other dogs who also want a new puppies treat, so keeping distance and treats separate is a good idea.
Why Do Dogs Bury Bones
Your pups hiding place is the perfect place to store valuables and leftovers. But you can break the habit. You start by teaching your dog food and treats are not a scarcity. This is an expensive lesson but is worth its weight in gold.
If your dog has one bone, he will do anything to keep it. Bury it, fight for it, steal it back. But if your dog has ten bones, he will let one go. If your dog has natural chew or two all the time and you regularly throw away bad ones, your dog will never have the scarcity mindset.
My dogs always have a buffalo horn to chew on. At least two per dog. When one gets ratty it is thrown away. Even power chewers take ages to destroy them. I mix up the occasional bully stick and steak bone into the mix. My dogs always have something tasty to chew.
I don’t forget the nylabones and tuff toys to play with. And rope for tug or war. No toy or treat is unique. Sure, my dogs have a favorite. When that happens I buy duplicates. Since I started doing this, my dogs never tried to bury bones or toys.
When money is tight, I use supervised chew. If I have one buffalo horn left, I left my pup chew on it as long as he or she wants until finished. Then I take it and put it up for the night. If my dog gets into a chewy mood I find a buffalo horn or another thing to chew on. I always keep a super indestructible nylabone in my dogs crates or on the floor. They are cheap and something that can be chowed on.
The final step is I make sure I avoid gardening in front of my dog. I use raised beds which are at least twelve inches off the ground. I try to get a puppy when it is not garden season to avoid teaching the dig habit. If my dog becomes interested in a spot to dig, some scent eliminator and vinegar spray does the trick.
Why do dogs bury bones? Bones are a rare treat. If you never teach your dog to dig the habit will not develop. If you provide a plethora of treats and chews your dog will not view a single bone as a precious commodity. Unlike a dogs dislike for having it paws touched, this is one habit you can avoid entirely.