Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Why Dogs Bury Treats

Does your dog often bury her bones, treats or even her toys in your backyard? Ever find a bone under the pillow on your bed or behind the sofa cushions?

Most behaviors dogs practice today are rooted in their ancient, developmental history. In the early days of canines, food was not always plentiful. After a successful hunt, a dog would bury whatever he did not consume to keep it from scavengers and even other members of her pack. When she became hungry again or prey was sparse, she would return to her “stash” to consume the leftovers.

Sometimes the problem was that the hunt was so successful there was too much food to be consumed at one meal. An ancestral urge led the dogs to bury their food for leaner times. The dirt also helped keep the food fresher by keeping it from direct sunlight.

You might wonder why your dog still practices this behavior when you deliver her kibble to her food bowl every day! Old habits die hard and even our domesticated canines still experience the natural instinct to hoard. In fact, many species in the animal kingdom regularly practice hoarding behaviors. Squirrels hide acorns, leopards hang their kill from trees for later consumption, and even humans stock their pantry with canned goods and non-perishables.

Your dog’s modified hoarding instinct is normal. But if her burying urge becomes obsessive, try to limit her toys and treats to one or two items. After all, she can only play with one toy and chew one bone at a time.

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