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Why Does My Dog Bury Bones?

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why dogs bury bones

You’ve probably seen your dog burying a bone or other favorite object at some point.  Dogs bury things in order to hide them, protect them and save them for later.

Although dogs have been sharing their lives with humans for about 17,000 years (scientists estimate 14,000-35,000 years), dogs have been evolving for millions of years. They depended entirely on their own smarts and abilities to hunt and find food.

Wolves (and dogs) might be very successful in their hunting some days and less successful other days. They learned, through generations, that when they killed a big animal and couldn’t eat all the food at once, it was best to bury some of it. Then they could go back and eat it later. Far from being harmed by having a little dirt on the carcass, bones would be “aged” by spending a little time in the ground.

Wolves also had to compete with other large predators who would try to take over their kills after the hunt. Burying the carcass could keep these other animals from taking the food away.

So, whether there was a lot of prey to be hunted or not much food to be found, wolves and later dogs knew that if they buried their food sources they would have food available when they needed it.

They are not alone in following this practice of hoarding or caching food. Leopards drag their kill up to the top of trees to eat it. Squirrels store nuts for winter. Other animals also store and hide food for later.

For the modern day dog, bones are not the only prize that may be buried. Your dog may bury his toys or anything that he wants to come back to later. If he is afraid another dog may try to take his toy or something else he wants to keep, he may decide to dig a hole for it so he can keep it safe. Other dogs may stow things under couch cushions or under your pillow. Each dog is different but they are all following this ancient instinct.

When your dog hides a bone or anything that he values, he is simply saving it up for when times may be harder. So, if you give your dog a bone and he promptly digs a hole for it and buries it, don’t be offended or scold him. He’s simply following his natural instincts.



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