Burying food and treats is a natural instinctive behavior for dogs and has been part of their lifestyle for centuries. In their natural state, dogs had to hunt for their own food and then bury it to keep it safe from other predators. Digging a hole in the ground made the perfect hiding spot for food, especially extra food, saved for another day. Sometimes the hunt went very well and there was a need to bury the surplus food, out of reach from other animals. The modern family dog will still bury surplus food and coveted toys. He may feel the need to bury food if he is overfed and does not need the full portion you have given him. Dogs like the Dachshund are known diggers. They have a natural urge to dig, as well as tunnel, and therefore burying food would be close to their digging instincts. Burying food helps to preserve the food for another snack, while the Dachshund waits for the right time to rescue his treat.
The Root of the Behavior
The root of burying food lies with nature. There are breeds of dogs that feel the need to bury food more than others and Dachshunds, as well as Terriers, fall into this group. They are equipped with strong claws and sharp noses to smell out their buried treasure. The Dachshund spends his time close to the ground and this makes it easy for him to bury food or toys. He can quickly cover the treat over with his strong little snout. When he returns to his treasure he can sniff it out and find his buried snack. Dachshunds are notoriously driven by their noses and their tummies. They have a strong prey drive and after the ‘hunt,’ will want to protect their food by burying it. This is especially true of the Dachshund that is receiving more than enough food. This behavior is known as ‘caching’ and is a natural behavior that is partly instinctive and partly personality. Dachshunds like to store their food as well as their toys and treats. Your reaction to the burying behavior can turn into a game.
Dachshunds are very smart little dogs. They are strong-willed and could see this dig and hide activity as a great source of fun. Your reaction to the holes dug in your garden will determine the level of gamesmanship attached to the dig and bury game. Most of this natural behavior is perfectly safe, but do be aware of tummy troubles if your garden has recently been sprayed or fertilized. The chemical content could be upsetting for your dog's tummy. The predominantly indoor Dachshund’s instinctive desire to dig and bury treats may lead him to hide toys and treats under the bed covers and cushions in your home. Remember, this is instinctive and shouting about it will only be confusing to your natural born digger. Excessive hoarding and hiding could have other motivations. If you feel your Dachshund is anxiously hiding everything he can, perhaps some intervention from a behaviorist could help distract your dog from unwanted obsessive behavior.
Encouraging the Behavior
Dogs like the Dachshund will want to dig and bury their most prized possessions. These clever little dogs will always enjoy being part of search and rescue activities. There are classes to give your Dachshund an opportunity to be part of ‘nose work’ and products like the Snuffle Mat help dogs who love to dig but may be confined to living indoors. Taking care of a Dachshund is always entertaining as these little dogs have personalities of their own. You will soon know if they have become anxious about their food and are burying treats more frantically than usual. Anxiety, caused by an addition to the household, could lead to more saving of food than normal.
Some dogs like to have a quiet place to eat and your Dachshund could be burying food to eat later in a quiet moment of his own. There is a fine balance between instinctive behavior and excessiveness and knowing your dog’s personality will be helpful in this area. Treat what is natural with respect and enjoyment and assess concerning behavior with the help of a behaviorist or by promoting organized activities to stimulate the instincts of your Dachshund. Keeping dogs sociable and active is important. Daily exercise and spending time with your Dachshund, who is an intelligent member of your household, will put an end to unwanted behavior and bring both of you closer together. Dachshunds like to be the center of attention and it is said that a Dachshund trains his owner!
Other Solutions and Considerations
Dachshunds are little hound dogs that not only get under your feet – they get under your skin. They love to dig and bury their 'doggie' treats and their favorite toys. They will enjoy watching you find buried treasure in all sorts of different places. Encouraging their natural scent hound behavior will be fun for both you and your Dachshund as you take part in search and rescue activities like the popular sport for dogs called Nose Work. A day out at a Nose Work event will be a bonding experience for you and your Dachshund. At this event, you will enjoy watching your Dachshund search for treats and toys through exploring different elements where the scent of the treat leads him. Elements like containers, interiors or exteriors, and even vehicles. All these activities encourage digging or searching for treats but, in an environment where you and your Dachshund can interact together and enjoy the activity, the socializing, and the exercise.
The Dachshund has been featured in many famous circles. He was a popular member of Picasso’s household. When the famous artist made a cardboard rabbit for his furry friend the Dachshund, called Lump, ran outside with his toy. Did he bury the treat? That is not part of the story. It could have been Lump’s intention. It was probably one of the most valuable doggie treats of its time. Lump was featured on some of Picasso’s canvasses. A Dachshund, not buried, but a piece of famous modern art.
By a Rhodesian Ridgeback lover Christina Wither
Published: 04/25/2018, edited: 01/30/2020