Why Do Dogs Hide Their Food?

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Hiding food is your dog's instinctive way of making sure she has a meal waiting should she become hungry. This is also why a dog hides treats instead of eating them — she's saving them for later, or making sure another pet in the house doesn't get them. The downside of food hoarding behavior is that your dog is unlikely to go hungry in a modern home, which means all those stashed meals will rot in whatever location your pet has hidden them. You will need to modify how you feed your dog to reduce or eliminate this behavior, if you can't live with it.

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Dogs often instinctively hide food for later.
Image Credit: Chris Amaral/Photodisc/Getty Images

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Burying bones is common

Dogs who hide their uneaten food, treats, bones, and chews generally are not ill nor are they hiding the food because they do not want to eat it. Dogs who are picky or sick might refuse to eat their meals, but they most likely won't hide the food.

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Dogs who hide food or bury chews tend to be those who have plenty to eat but instinctively feel the need to stash a few bites. The desire to bury bones for later is instinctive for dogs; they might also have had to compete for food at some point if they came from a rescue, shelter, or crowded breeders.

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Why dogs hide food

Dogs hide food because they want to have food later. It really is that simple. Their instincts come from a time when dogs had to hunt for their food and could not guarantee that every hunting trip would result in a meal. Hidden leftovers ensured a primitive dog who had failed his daily hunt would have access to the meal he needed to survive.

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Modern dogs still have these instincts, but they don't have the need to hide food because you provide them with fresh food every day. Some dogs, such as those who were bred for hunting or those who have been living in situations where they went hungry on a regular or semi-regular basis, might be more likely to hide food. For instance, dog breeds that bury bones most frequently include the beagle and dachshund, both scent dogs and natural trackers.

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The desire to bury food for later is instinctive for dogs;
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When hiding food hiding is an issue

If your dog doesn't feel comfortable at his food dish, he might remove food from the dish and hide it so that he can eat it later. Some dogs feel threatened when sharing mealtime with other pets or do not react well to having to eat in a loud room full of family activity.

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If your dog has a nervous, anxious, or shy personality, you should maybe feed him in a quiet location by himself. Pay attention to your dog to see when he prefers to eat and where. Adapt your feeding rituals to increase his level of comfort during mealtime.

How to prevent food hoarding

There are several things you can do if you want to prevent your dog from hiding his food. Try feeding him several small meals throughout the day. Once your dog has eaten his fill, remove the dish so he cannot hide his leftovers.

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Try changing your feeding method to prevent food hiding.
Image Credit: Philippe Degroote/iStock/GettyImages

Avoid feeding your dog more food or treats than he can eat. Make a feeding routine and stick with it so your dog will know what to expect every day and, hopefully, be more comfortable with the knowledge his next meal is always just around the corner.

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