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Why Do Dogs Bury Things? Food, Toys, Treats & More | Pupford

January 11th, 2024

Filed under Pet Parenting

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Why do dogs bury things? It's a question that has puzzled pet parents for generations. Many dogs exhibit a seemingly inexplicable urge to bury their treasures, whether it's a beloved toy, a tasty treat, or even a pair of socks.

The instinctive burying behavior, deeply ingrained in their ancestral heritage, traces its origins to a time when dogs roamed as wild creatures.

In this article, we will explore the intriguing world of canine instincts and why dogs still engage in burying behavior in our modern era, despite most of them being domesticated and integrated into human families. Here’s a little more detail about what we will cover in this article:

  • Ancestral Canine Survival Instincts
  • Why Do Dogs Still Bury?
  • What do Dogs Bury?
  • More Psychology Behind Burying
  • Where Do Dogs Bury Things?
  • Identifying Problematic Burying
  • Nurturing Healthy Habits
  • Digging Deeper: Breed Influences

Let's get right to it. 👇


dog ancestors and how it relates to dog instincts

To truly understand why dogs bury things, let’s journey back in time to their ancestral connection. Dogs, as we know them today, have evolved from wild ancestors, including wolves. These ancestors played a crucial role in shaping the behavior of modern-day dogs.

One of the primary reasons dogs bury things is deeply rooted in their survival instincts. When dogs lived in the wild, they would bury surplus food to save it for later consumption. This is a behavior called, “caching”, commonly seen among coyotes. The process includes digging a cache and burying any excess food to return to eat later.

Burying food helped them store and hide it from potential scavengers, ensuring they could return to sustenance when they later needed it.


Despite the evolution of dogs from wild creatures to beloved companions, the instinct to bury things persists. This behavior has transformed from a survival necessity to a modern-day instinct. While domesticated dogs no longer need to stash food away for future meals, the impulse to bury remains deeply ingrained in their DNA.

One of the key reasons why dogs still bury things like food and toys, even in blankets, is that they simply can't help it. It's a natural response, and trying to suppress it can be frustrating for both dogs and their human companions. Understanding and respecting this innate nature is essential for fostering a harmonious relationship with our four-legged friends.

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Dogs are remarkably creative when it comes to choosing items to bury. Commonly buried items include toys, bones, treats, and even food. However, dogs have their own unique and sometimes quirky tastes. Some dogs may surprise their guardians by burying items like shoes, socks, or even remote controls.

The variety of objects dogs choose to bury can be both amusing and puzzling.

The motivation behind what dogs bury can vary from one individual pup to another. While food items may harken back to their survival instincts, burying toys or personal belongings may be driven by different needs and desires. Dogs are complex creatures with emotions and motivations, and their burying habits are often linked to their current mental state.

dog burying toys in the yard

More Psychology Behind Burying:

  • Boredom: Dogs may bury toys and treats out of sheer boredom. When left alone for extended periods or lacking mental stimulation, they may resort to digging and burying as a way to pass the time and entertain themselves.
  • Anxiety: Some dogs bury things when they are feeling anxious or stressed. This behavior can serve as a coping mechanism, providing them with a sense of comfort and security.
  • Attention-Seeking: Dogs are social animals, and burying things can be a way to get your attention. They may want you to notice their actions and engage with them, even if it means "rescuing" their buried treasures.
  • Security: Burying items can also be a way for dogs to create a sense of security. Just as a child might cuddle with a favorite blanket, a dog may bury a cherished toy to feel safe and comforted.


dogs bury things in the couch

Dogs are equally diverse in their choice of burying spots. Some prefer the classic approach, burying their treasures in the dirt or under piles of leaves. Others get creative and opt for more unconventional locations, like beneath the couch cushions or beneath blankets on the bed.

The choice of burying spot can vary significantly between individual dogs. Some may be particular about finding the perfect hiding place, while others may be less selective and bury items in plain sight. The variation in burying spots reflects the unique personalities and preferences of each dog.

Understanding where your dog chooses to bury things like food and treats can provide insights into their behavior and help you create a more enriching environment for them.

For example, a dog that prefers burying toys under the couch may be seeking a sense of security, while one that buries items in the garden may be responding to their natural instincts.

Related Reading: How to Stop a Dog from Digging + Digging Pit/Box Idea


While burying items is a natural behavior for dogs, it can become problematic in certain situations. It's essential for pet parents to differentiate between normal burying behavior and compulsive burying.

  • Normal burying behavior: Occasional burying of toys or treats is entirely normal and should not raise concerns. It's a part of a dog's natural instincts and should be embraced as a harmless quirk.
  • Compulsive burying: If your dog exhibits excessive burying to the point where it interferes with their daily life or causes distress, it may be a sign of compulsive behavior. Compulsive burying can be indicative of underlying anxiety or other psychological issues and should be discussed with a veterinarian or a professional dog trainer.
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For pet parents looking to manage and minimize their dog's burying behavior, here are some practical tips:

  • Provide Mental Stimulation: Engage your dog in mentally stimulating activities, such as puzzle toys or interactive games. A mentally stimulated dog is less likely to resort to burying out of boredom.
  • Exercise Regularly: Ensure your dog gets enough physical exercise through daily walks, playtime, going on a run, or even agility training. A tired dog is a happy dog less likely to engage in problematic burying.
  • Redirect Their Energy: Offer appropriate outlets and redirection for your dog's natural instincts, such as providing a designated digging area in the yard where they can bury and dig to their heart's content.
  • Positive Training: Use positive reinforcement techniques to redirect your dog's energy and reinforce desirable behaviors. Reward them when they engage in alternative activities instead of burying.
  • Safe Burying Opportunities: If your dog loves to bury, provide them with safe items to bury, such as special toys or treats. This allows them to indulge in their instinct while keeping your belongings safe.
  • Consult a Professional: If your dog's burying behavior becomes a persistent issue or seems linked to anxiety, consult a professional dog trainer or a veterinarian for guidance.
if your dog compulsively digs you want to get additional help


It's worth noting that different dog breeds may have varying predispositions to burying. Some breeds are more likely to engage in digging and burying behaviors due to their historical roles and genetic makeup.

Here are a few examples:

  • Terriers: Terrier breeds have strong digging instincts, rooted in their historical role as rodent hunters, often leading to burying items. Understanding and accommodating this behavior is vital for terrier owners.
  • Dachshunds: With their long bodies and short legs, Dachshunds were bred for hunting burrowing animals, resulting in a strong digging and burying instinct, which may manifest as digging holes in the yard or burying toys indoors.
  • Hounds: Some hounds may show burying behavior, though it's less pronounced than in terriers or Dachshunds. Beagles, for example, may bury items out of curiosity or to hide their treasures.
  • Northern Breeds: Northern breeds like Siberian Huskies and Alaskan Malamutes inherit survival instincts, leading to burying food or possessions as a means of protection or resource conservation.

Remember that individual variations exist within each breed, and not all dogs of the same breed will exhibit the same burying tendencies. Understanding your dog's unique personality and needs is essential for effective pet parenting.


a dog burying their food in the sand | Pupford

In the quest to uncover canine instincts, let's celebrate the unique and endearing quirks that make our dogs special and continue to be their best advocates and caregivers in this remarkable journey together.

As a recap, dogs mostly bury things out of instinctual habit from their ancestral survival instincts. It is often something that is impulsive to them and natural!

Our bond with these faithful companions, including their burying behavior, is a source of immeasurable joy, and by embracing their instincts and individuality, we can create a harmonious and loving environment that enriches both their lives and ours.

If you need extra help to improve your dog's impulse control, we have 21 fun games to help your dog be more attentive and focused! Get access to 21 Impulse Control Games here!

Related Reading: If You See These 15 Behaviors, Your Dog Needs Extra Training

🐶 Don't miss out, learn 21 easy-to-play & effective impulse control games with guided steps, "levels" of learning & practice schedules! Get access here!


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