If you have ever owned a dog, you have probably wondered why they always seem to hide bones in the strangest places. This behavior can be puzzling to dog owners, but the motivation behind it is simple.
Hiding bones is an instinctual behavior for dogs. It served the purpose of hiding food for later when wild dogs were not guaranteed several meals a day served on a platter. Even though dogs do not need to hide bones and food now to survive, for many breeds the habit has stuck around.
Even though hiding things like bones, treats, and toys is normal behavior, there are some things you can do to stop or reduce it. (Especially if your dog is digging holes all over your yard!).
Why Do Dogs Hide Bones?
Hiding bones is one of many behaviors dogs have acquired through evolution. As pack animals, wolves and wild dogs had to bury leftover food to keep it fresh and safe from other animals. Even though domestic dogs usually do not have to worry about food shortages, they still bury bones.
Interestingly, this behavior is more common in hunting breeds than non-hunting breeds.
According to the authors of Why Do Dogs Like Balls?, D. Caroline Coile, PhD and Margaret H. Bonham:
“Dogs naturally bury food they don’t want to eat now in order to save it for later. Dogs with outdoor access may dig a small hole … Indoor dogs may look for scatter rugs, piles of clothing, or pillows under which to hide their stash.”
Sometimes dogs hide things because of an underlying problem with anxiety or stress.
Dogs who come from less fortunate situations, like puppy mills or dogs who were homeless, may be more likely to hide food because they had to compete for resources and deal with food scarcity. For dogs like this, an anxiety vest may help ease their stress and therefore reduce the urge to hide things.
Why Does My Dog Hide Certain Treats or Bones?
You may notice that sometimes your dog hides their bones and sometimes they do not. Sometimes they hide bones and treats or bones and toys.
It is hard to say exactly why your dog may choose to hide certain bones over others, but one explanation could be how high or low value they are.
For example, you may find that your dog hides things they love to keep them safe – like their favorite bones and toys.
They may also hide some items because they are bored or not as important. Your dog may scarf down their favorite treats or bones but hide the ones they do not like as much, just in case they are hungry later.
When Do Dogs Hide Their Bones?
Like us, dogs are creatures of habit. You may notice that the same time each day your dog scurries away to hide something or ask yourself why your dog hides bones some days but not others.
The main answer to this question is that dogs usually hide their bones when they are not hungry. This could happen if you give your dog a bone right after a meal, for example.
You might also notice your dog hiding their bones more frequently if other animals or people are around. They may not trust another animal or your guests not to take their bones/toys for themselves!
Why Do Dogs Whine When They Hide Their Bones?
Have you ever heard your dog whine when he gets a bone?
It seems like an odd behavior and might even get annoying sometimes but dogs whining when burying their bones is a normal thing.
Your dog is excited that you gave them something delicious or a new toy that just became their most prized possession! Whatever it is, they want to keep it safe until they are ready to eat or play with it later.
It is sort of like crying happy tears, but also being nervous that you are going to lose something important to you.
Where Do Dogs Hide Bones?
Dogs hide their bones all over the place, often leaving their owners scratching their heads and wondering, “Why here?” when they find them. Here are a few of the places that your dog may choose to hide their bones and why:
Why do dogs hide bones in corners?
From a strategic standpoint, it is easier to watch and protect something that is hidden in the corner of the room. If their bone is in the middle of the room then it is exposed from all sides.
Why do dogs hide their bones in the dirt?
Dogs hide their bones in the dirt because it makes them harder for others to find and steal. It also acts as a natural refrigerator.
Why do dogs hide their bones in the house?
Dogs hide their bones in the house because it is their home. They want to hide their food where it will be safe and not stolen by other animals, which is why wolves and wild dogs would normally hide bones close to their den.
Why do dogs hide bones in my bed?
It might be irritating to finally lay down after a long day to find the hard lump of a bone under your blanket or pillow. Even worse is the smell of a bone lingering while you try to doze off.
You might not enjoy the habit, but your dog probably hides bones in your bed because it is an important place! You sleep there every night, so if your dog is allowed in your bedroom and on your bed, they probably consider it one of the key areas of your house or apartment.
Your bed also has pillows and blankets that make it easy for your dog to hide their bones from sight.
Why does my dog hide her bones around the house?
The area around your house is familiar to your dog. It is their territory. They know the area, who is around, and where the best hiding places are.
Why does my dog hide her bones under me?
Have you ever sat on the couch and had your dog come up and try to shove a bone underneath you?
If so, you know that it is not the most comfortable experience. However, you should be honored because it means that your dog trusts you enough to look after one of their most prized possessions!
How To Stop My Dog From Hiding Food
As we mentioned before, hiding food is an instinctual behavior seen in many dogs. The behavior is not beneficial to most dogs today, but they still do it out of habit.
If it does not bother you and there is nothing obsessive about the behavior you can choose to let it go. If it is causing problems, there are things you can do about it.
Here are three ways to prevent your dog from hiding their bones:
1. Pay attention to your dog's diet
Is it possible that your dog is being overfed? Most dogs are intuitive eaters, meaning that they eat when they are hungry and stop when they are full.
If your dog is saving lots of bones and treats for later, they probably are not necessary. It is hard not to spoil out furry friends, but by only giving your dog what they need they will not end up with extras to hide.
2. Ask yourself if your dog is bored
If you notice your dog has other undesirable behaviors on top of this one, boredom might be the culprit.
Buying your pup a few toys, especially interactive toys, to rotate and making sure they are getting enough mental and physical stimulation might be enough to break a bored dog’s bone-hiding habit. A slow feeder dog bowl is another way to address boredom and make your dog work for their meal.
3. Find better ways to channel this energy
Your dog’s food-hiding may be annoying and inconvenient to you (sitting on hard bones under your blankets, finding holes dug up in the yard, etc.). But bones aside, some dogs just love digging and hiding things!
One way to solve this problem without attempting to extinguish the behavior is to create a designated digging space in your yard and train your dog to only dig there. You can even buy a super fun digging pit if you do not want any holes in your yard, just remember to reward them each time they use it until they learn not to dig elsewhere.
Or make a game out of hiding and retrieving certain toys. This gives your dog a healthy way to act on their instincts without being destructive or gross and positively reinforces them hiding certain things but not others.
Do you have a dog who hides their bones or treats excessively? Let us know about it and how you’re working to overcome this!