Dogs are fascinating creatures that exhibit a wide range of behaviors, many of which can leave their human companions confused and scratching their heads in curiosity. One such behavior that often ignites interest is the act of burying their food.
While it might seem peculiar to us, this behavior has deep roots and connection to a dog’s evolutionary history and can be due to several reasons.
If you want to know why do dogs bury their food, then stay with us and read the details as we delve into the facts and reasons behind why do dogs try to bury their food.
Why Do Dogs Bury Their Food?
If you encounter your dog doing weird things or acting differently from their regular behaviour, there may be various reasons behind their actions. Let’s learn about the reasons why do dogs bury their food.
1. Instinctual Behavior from Ancestral Roots
The practice of burying food is a trait inherited from dogs’ wild ancestors. Wolves, the progenitors of domestic dogs, had to hunt for their food, which was often more than they could consume in one sitting.
Burying excess food was a survival strategy, allowing them to preserve their resources for times when prey was scarce. This ancestral behavior has been passed down through generations and remains a part of many domestic dogs’ instincts today.
2. Hiding Food From Competitors
In the wild, competition for resources is fierce. Burying food was a way for wolves to keep their meals hidden from potential competitors, such as other predators or scavengers. Even though domestic dogs don’t face the same level of competition, this behavior can still be observed.
Dogs may bury their food to hide it from other pets in the household or as a relic of their evolutionary past.
3. Preserving Food for Later
Dogs are known for their exceptional smelling senses. Burying food items can help preserve the scent of the food, making it easier for them to locate it later. In the wild, when a wolf made a successful kill but couldn’t consume the entire carcass immediately, burying it would help mask the smell and prevent attracting larger predators.
Similarly, domestic dogs might bury food to “save” it for later consumption, relying on their keen sense of smell to locate it when hunger strikes again.
4. A Natural Response to Abundance
Some dogs might bury their food even when they have plenty to eat. This behavior could be a throwback behaviour to their days as scavengers. In times of abundance, wolves and early dogs would save extra food as a backup plan in case their primary food source became scarce.
While today’s dogs typically don’t need to scavenge for survival, this behavior might persist as an instinctual response to having more food than they currently need.
5. Seeking Comfort and Security
For some dogs, the act of burying food goes beyond practical instincts. It may also serve as a way to find comfort and security.
Dogs that were weaned too early from their mothers may engage in this behavior as a way to cope with feelings of insecurity. The action of digging and burying can mimic the comforting feeling of being with their mother or littermates.
6. Territorial Instincts
Dogs have a strong territorial instinct, and burying food can be a way of marking their territory. By burying food in a specific location, dogs leave behind their scent, effectively marking that spot as their own. T
his behavior is more commonly observed in male dogs and those that haven’t been neutered, as hormonal influences play a role in territorial marking.
How to Stop The Food Burying Behaviour in Dogs?
If you are irritated with the weird behaviour of your dog and you already know why do dogs bury their food, and want to know how to put a stop to it, then read ahead. Also learn whether dogs can eat vienna sausages or not.
1. Consistent Feeding Schedule
It is important to establish a regular feeding schedule that can help minimize the urge to bury food. By providing meals at predictable times, you are creating a sense of routine and predictability for your dog.
When dogs know that food will be available regularly, they are less likely to feel the need to bury it as a survival instinct. Stick to a consistent schedule and avoid leaving food out for extended periods.
2. Interactive Feeding
Engage your dog’s mind and natural instincts by using interactive feeding methods. Puzzle feeders, slow-feed bowls, and treat-dispensing toys can make mealtime more engaging and mentally stimulating.
These methods encourage your dog to work for their food, reducing the instinct to bury it and channeling their energy into productive activities.
3. Positive Reinforcement and Training
Training is quite helpful in modifying your dog’s behavior. Use positive reinforcement techniques to discourage burying behavior and encourage more appropriate actions.
When your dog shows signs of burying food, gently redirect their attention to a designated eating area. Reward them with praise, treats or other rewards when they eat their food without attempting to bury it.
4. Create a Designated Feeding Area
It will be wise to designate a specific area where your dog should eat their meals. This can be indoors or outdoors, depending on your preferences and living situation. Train your dog to associate this area with mealtime by consistently feeding them there. Over time, they will learn that this is the appropriate place to eat, reducing the instinct to bury food elsewhere.
Remember that each dog is unique, and the effectiveness of these strategies may vary. It’s important to be patient and understanding while working to change your dog’s behavior.
The act of burying food might seem perplexing to us, but it’s a behavior deeply rooted in a dog’s evolutionary past. Whether it’s a survival instinct, a way to hide from competitors, a means of preserving food, or simply seeking comfort, there are various reasons why dogs engage in this behavior.
Now that you are aware why do dogs bury their food, you can act knowingly to stop these behaviours gradually.