Why do dogs bury their food? 5 shocking reasons
Why do dogs bury their food? This is something that goes back to their ancestors, as a way to keep their food safe and hidden from predators.
why do dogs bury their food
Why do dogs bury their food?


Dogs have a natural instinct to bury their food. This is something that goes back to their ancestors, as a way to keep their food safe and hidden from predators. They dig shallow pits with their paws and noses to hide it away.

This behavior has been slowly fading away due to domestication, as dogs have regular meals. But some breeds still have a stronger instinct to bury their food. Dr. Karen Overall from the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine found that huskies and terriers still have higher levels of burying behaviors.

So when your pup is burying his treat, he’s just going back to his wild roots. He’s just playing hide-and-seek with his next meal!

Why do dogs bury their food?
#1. The Natural Instinct of Dogs

Dogs have a deep-seated instinct to bury their food. But why? It’s rooted in their time as pack animals, where they had to compete for limited resources. Burying food kept it safe from other members of the pack or scavengers. It also helps them store food for future consumption during times of scarcity.

Even after domestication, this natural instinct remains in many breeds. It’s a reminder of their wild past and the deep connection between humans and dogs.

Dogs bury their food faster than their bones, and faster than their hopes of never running out!

#2. Evolutionary Reasons

Dogs bury their food for many reasons. It’s rooted in their evolutionary instincts. They do it to ensure a steady supply of food during lean times, to hide and protect their valuable resources from other animals, and to store excess food for later. This behavior is inherited from wild canids like foxes and wolves.

On an individual level, some dogs simply enjoy digging and burying objects. Certain breeds with strong hunting drives may be more likely to do this because of their innate desire to save and secure resources.

If your dog is burying food and making a mess, you can try giving them smaller portions at mealtime. This will reduce the surplus and lessen their need to hoard. You could also provide mentally stimulating toys or activities that simulate searching and retrieving food. This could help redirect their burying instincts.

Why do dogs bury their food?
#3. Behavioral Factors

Why do dogs bury their food? Let’s explore some of the fascinating reasons!

Dogs’ ancestors would often bury food to protect it from predators and save it for later, when food was scarce. This instinct has been passed down through generations.

Similar to some humans, dogs may want to hoard food – burying it lets them create a hidden stash to return to whenever they need it.

Marking Territory:
By burying food, dogs are able to mark their territory as theirs – especially in multi-dog households, where each dog wants to claim their own resources.

Security and Comfort:
Burying food gives dogs a sense of security and comfort – it’s like preserving and safeguarding their valuable resource for future sustenance.

A Personal Experience:
I once saw a stray dog dig a hole, carefully place its leftover meal in it, and cover it up. It then walked away, happy with its hidden cache. This experience made me realize how deeply ingrained this behavior is in our furry friends.

#4. Environmental Factors

Explaining it professionally, the impact of their environment is key to understanding why dogs bury their food. Let’s take a closer look at this fascinating behaviour.

Evaluating Environmental Factors:

InstinctDogs have an innate instinct to protect and hide food.
SurvivalBurying food helps keep it away from potential predators.
PreservationIt serves as a way to save food for later use.

Diving into Specifics:

This behaviour isn’t just for dog breeds; it’s seen in wild canines too. The instinct to bury food is in their genetics, either as a way to survive or to make sure they have something to eat when resources are low.

A Puzzling Story:

In rural areas, there have been reports of dogs burying food during winter, when resources are scarce. Amazingly, they could find and get back their buried food even after several months.

This behaviour shows us how well our furry friends can adapt to their environment. By understanding the environmental factors, we can gain insight into the amazing world of canine behaviour. Why do dogs bury their food? Perhaps they’re planning to open a food truck in the afterlife!

Why do dogs bury their food?
#5. Psychological Reasons

Dogs bury their food for various psychological reasons. These include survival instinct, dominance display, maintaining freshness, and security and comfort.

Terrier breeds, which were bred for hunting and digging, may show this behavior more frequently.

This behavior dates back to the dog’s wild canine ancestors. So, when you see your pup digging up the backyard to stash a bone, remember it’s just following its instincts!


Dogs’ instinct to bury their food dates back to when they were wild animals. This was a way to hide food from other animals. Dogs no longer need to hunt, but this instinct remains.

It may also be a way for dogs to save food for later – like other animals storing food. This is especially true for dogs that have more food than they need.

Another fascinating reason is linked to smell. Dogs leave behind scent markers when burying food. This could serve as territorial signals for other dogs.

An ancient Egyptian myth has an interesting account. Anubis, the god of embalming & afterlife, had a dog’s head. Egyptians would bury food with their loyal companions to ensure sustenance on their journey.

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