Why Do Dogs Bury Bones?

By Naomi Millburn

If your dog has a habit of burying bones, it might be due to an intense hereditary survival instinct. Dogs in the wild buried bones as a means of storing them to use at a later time. They also frequently buried animal carcasses. Canines buried these things when resources were scant.

Survival Instinct

Before dogs were domesticated and kept as household pets, they buried any excess food they could find as a precaution. If they were unable to get fresh meals later, they could depend on the food they had carefully buried. If you observe your pooch digging and hiding his bones, kibble or treats, it's a behavior that's ingrained from his wild ancestors. Luckily, household dogs aren't responsible for procuring their next meals. Old habits die hard, though. When household dogs bury bones, they often neglect to go back for them.

Dirt and Buried Items

Canines possess impressive smelling abilities. After wild dogs buried their excess meals, they could track them down by sniffing around. Once they located the right spots, they dug the food out from the dirt and enjoyed their meals. Dogs generally hid their food in spots close to their dens.

Dirt not only effectively hid wild dogs' excess food, but it also kept it cool and "refrigerated." When bones were concealed from sunlight, they remained fresh longer. The aging process also enhanced the flavor of the bones. Bones contain marrow, which is packed full of nutrients. Therefore, bones are capable of feeding dogs when they have no other options available.

Food Rivalry

Food rivalry was highly intense for wild dogs. Getting food wasn't easy in the first place. Wild dogs also had the stress of having to fight with other animals over their food finds. This "hoarding" or "caching" behavior isn't exclusive to wild dogs. Beavers, foxes, leopards and squirrels all practice their own forms of hiding excess foods as do wolves.

Burying Items For Fun

Household dogs sometimes bury bones for fun, too. If you find your dog regularly burying bones or other items, it could mean he's feeling lonesome and bored. Dogs sometimes bury things as a way of getting acknowledgement or playtime from their owners. They frequently bury things they know their owners prize, too. If your pooch constantly sees you writing with a pen you keep on the coffee table, he might hide it to win attention from you.