Why Do Dogs Bury Bones

Why Do Dogs Bury Bones? Learn About Your Dog’s Behavior Leave a comment

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Dogs are lovable creatures. They have many instinctive behaviors which run in their generations. Many dog owners ask questions about a specific behavior of dogs like why do dogs bury bones?  Is burying a bone an instinctive behavior of dogs? And other relevant questions.  Additionally, this behavior can be annoying for some owners because the dogs create molehills in the backyard and hide bones and other items over there.

In this article, we will discuss the logic and reasons behind this behavior of dogs under the light of scientific literature and general field experience.

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Why Do Dogs Bury The Bones?

Burying bones and other items is an instinctive nature of the dogs. In ancient years, the ancestors of the dogs had to compete with other pack mates for food. So, if a dog used to manage enough food, he would have been buried nearby. This thing was also helpful for them to get the food during the scarcity or shortage period. So, this burying behavior comes from the ancestors to hide the surplus food.

Remember, dogs have protective nature and they take their food as a treasurer.  So, they dig a hollow area out of the ground to protect their treasure and keep it safe. Also keep in mind that, dogs bury all those things which they consider the value, it may include bones, toys, food items, or anything.

Another important point that must be discussed here is the breed type and purpose. This behavior of burying bones is mostly seen in hunting breeds as compared to herding or non-sport breeds. Because burying bones is part of their hunting instinct (they tend to show a desire to save their resources).  Hence, hunting dogs are more likely to bury bones than others.  Here we have listed some important breeds which show this behavior so frequently than others.

  1. Beagles
  2. Dachshunds
  3. Terriers

Important note: All dogs have this potential instinct to bury the bones & other items. But these above-mentioned breeds have sharp digging skills.

Can Anxiety Cause Burying Bone Behavior In Dogs?

Yes, anxiety is the biggest factor that causes burying bones in dogs. An anxious dog tends to dig (as digging is itself a brain-soothing activity for dogs). All along with that, if your dog doesn’t feel safe and secure in an environment/place, he tends to dig and hide his food or bones.

For instance, this situation is commonly observed in multi-pet houses where the dogs and other pets compete with each other for food and resources. Plus, this behavior can also be seen in those areas where your dogs observe scarcity of food. So, these conditions are considered as the major triggers of bone burying behavior in your beloved canine buddy.

Is Boredom A Trigger Of Burying The Bones Behavior Of Dogs?

Yes, this can also be the main trigger. Your dog needs your attention and care. This has been scientifically documented that, dogs love to play and utilize their energy to do something. In case of boredom, dogs try to dig the hollow pit and bury bones and other items there to use their energy and get your attention.

Is Burying Bones A Normal Behavior In Dogs?

Obviously yes, this is a natural instinctive behavior in all dogs.  The dogs have a natural urge to hide things and search for them.  However, there are various other reasons which are associated with this type of behavior in dogs.

How To Stop Your Dog From Burying Bones?

Burying bones in the fresh garden can be annoying for pet owners. Because the constant and aggressive digging spoils the beauty of the garden also harms the dog.  Here, we are going to share the important strategies which can become really helpful in curbing this behavior in your beloved canine friend.

Don’t Give Surplus Food:

Give only limited resources to your dog in a highly comfortable and safe environment.  This is important to avoid giving bones to your dog sharp after the meal. After the meal, the dog’s stomach is completely filled and satisfied. So, this thing will trigger your dog to bury the bones and access them later on.

Do Fun Activities With Your Dog:

If your dog enjoys the burying of bones, then play tricky games with him. Train him to hide the bones under the pillows or the blankets and then give him a cue to search them. By playing these interesting games with your dog, you can protect your yard. Try to keep engage with your dog and give him your maximum attention.

Use Of Dirt Box:

For spacious homes, a dirt box is very useful in stopping the burying behavior in the dogs. You keep the dirt box at any place in your home. Allow your dog to use that dirt box and satisfy his digging needs. Let your dog bury the bones in that dirt box. This thing will keep your yard safe from unnecessary digs.

How Burying Is Harmful To Dogs?

As discussed previously, the burying causes damage to the yard and its overall aesthetic value.  Normally, burying is a natural process that dogs usually experience. But some compulsively dig aggressively until they damage their paws and get sores.  All along with that, during burying, any harmful chemical or injurious material present in the soil can also cause paw damage and complications.

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This is the part of natural instinct of the dogs to bury valuable items including bones, toys, etc.  However, this burying and hiding the bones in the yard can cause problems for the owners.  This constant and aggressive digging destroys the beauty of the yard. But there are so many tricks that can prevent your dog from burying the bones in the yard.

For example, use of dirt box, giving attention to your dog, proper training, providing limited sources to your dog, etc. Monitor the behavior of your dog and if you suspect any kind of anxiety in your dog, talk to your vet immediately.

Note: The process of burying the bones is a kind of “Food caching”. This is the instinctive process of storing the food for later use.  The dogs have acquired this behavior from their wild ancestors.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Can a dog easily search a buried bone?

Yes, this is possible in many cases. A dog easily smells and reaches the area/place where he had buried the bone. But in certain cases, if he buried the bone too deep, it becomes difficult for the dog to reach that place.

How burying bones is a food preservation method for the wild/ancient dogs?

Food preservation is another reason behind this burying bone behavior of the dog. In the wild environment, the dogs tend to bury the meat along with bones to preserve and protect them from the sunlight. As the temperature of the earth decreases with the increase in the digging depth, so burying bones in the ground acts as a preservative method and to use them later on.

Why anxiety causes burying bone behavior in dogs?

This is the main trigger that causes digging and burying the bones in the dogs. Give your dog attention and help him deal with anxiety.


Odendaal, J.S.J., 1997. A diagnostic classification of problem behavior in dogs and cats. Veterinary Clinics: Small Animal Practice27(3), pp.427-443.

Davis, T., 2012. Why dogs do that: a collection of curious canine behaviors. Willow Creek Press.

Odendaal, J.S.J., 1997. An ethological approach to the problem of dogs digging holes. Applied Animal Behaviour Science52(3-4), pp.299-305.

Smith, W. and Ross, S., 1953. The hoarding behavior of the mouse: I. The role of previous feeding experience. The Pedagogical Seminary and Journal of Genetic Psychology82(2), pp.279-297.

Timberlake, W. and Silva, K.M., 1995. Appetitive behavior in ethology, psychology, and behavior systems. Perspectives in ethology11, pp.211-253.

DeMello, M., 2021. Animal Behavior Studies and Ethology. In Animals and Society (pp. 417-449). Columbia University Press.

Pastore, C., Pirrone, F., Balzarotti, F., Faustini, M., Pierantoni, L. and Albertini, M., 2011. Evaluation of physiological and behavioral stress-dependent parameters in agility dogs. Journal of Veterinary Behavior6(3), pp.188-194.

De Kort, S.R., Tebbich, S., Dally, J.M., Emery, N.J. and Clayton, N.S., 2006. The comparative cognition of caching. Comparative cognition: experimental explorations of animal intelligence. Oxford University Press, New York, pp.529-552.

Farhadinia, M.S., Michelot, T., Johnson, P.J., Hunter, L.T. and Macdonald, D.W., 2020. Understanding decision making in a food-caching predator using hidden Markov models. Movement ecology8(1), p.9..

Agnetta, B., Hare, B. and Tomasello, M., 2000. Cues to food location that domestic dogs (Canis familiaris) of different ages do and do not use. Animal cognition3(2), pp.107-112.

Heberlein, M.T., Turner, D.C., Range, F. and Virányi, Z., 2016. A comparison between wolves, Canis lupus, and dogs, Canis familiaris, in showing behavior towards humans. Animal Behaviour122, pp.59-66.

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