by Jill Fanslau
You stash your prized possessions in a vault, bank, safe-deposit box, or under a mattress. Your pooch stows his treasures â€” bones, treats, toys, TV remotes â€” in a backyard hole or under a couch cushion.
Burying objects is an instinct for dogs, says Teoti Anderson, CPDT-KA, KPA-CTP, owner of?Pawsitive Results,?in Lexington, S.C., and the author of several dog-training books.
Why Dogs Bury Bones
Your pup probably gets it from his ancestors. As predators and scavengers, dogs didnâ€™t know when or where they could find their next meal, explains Anderson. If they had leftovers, they buried it and saved it for later.?
â€śOther animals do this, too,â€ť she says. â€śThink of squirrels, who bury their nuts in your yard. Theyâ€™re just not very good at it!â€ť
Some scientists think burying food underground masks the smell of it so other foragers canâ€™t find it. Others believe the dirt keeps the food cool, so it doesnâ€™t rot as quickly.
Nowadays, if your pooch lives in a multi-dog household, Anderson says he may have learned to dig from other dogs, too. Or, he may be concealing his goods so your other pups canâ€™t get their paws on them.?
Some breeds are more prone to digging, and they may tend to hide their treats and toys more often than other breeds.
One of the most prevalent diggers is?Dachshunds. Now, you might be thinking,?Wait! They have stubby little legs. But Dachshunds were originally bred to hunt badgers in their tunneled dens, making them great burrowers, Anderson explains.
How to Deal With Dogs That Dig
Anderson says burying objects is nothing to worry about. However, if the behavior becomes bothersome â€” like your dog is digging pits in your backyard, creating holes in your furniture, or hiding your jewelry â€” then you shouldnâ€™t punish your dog. Doing so could lead to?your pet?being afraid of you, she says.?
And donâ€™t just stop him from digging and then walk away.?
â€śInstead, interrupt the behavior and then immediately redirect your dog to another activity you like better,â€ť Anderson says.
By halting the digging, youâ€™ve communicated that you donâ€™t want him doing it. â€śNow, you have to teach him what you?do?like,â€ť she says. â€śGive him an interactive toy, play fetch with him â€” give him an alternate activity you prefer.â€ť?
The only time you have to worry about the behavior is when it becomes excessive. â€śIf your dog does become obsessed with hiding food or a toy, to the point that you canâ€™t interrupt him or he does it for long periods of time, then you may need to consult your veterinarian,â€ť says Anderson. â€śThere could be an obsessive-compulsive component to his burying.â€ť
Image: Coffeemill / via Shutterstock