Have you ever noticed your dog chewing on something one minute and then the next moment you see him trying to cover it up with something? This is a common behavior for dogs and they seem to enjoy it very much. Dogs like to cover things up and often that means unearthing a toy or a bone under a fresh pile of soil and dirt just around your house and maybe in your garden.
Sometimes if you are luckier, you may find your TV remote control at the bottom of your laundry pile, underneath all your soiled and smelly clothes. Did you ever wonder how your phone went missing from the table only to resurface under the cushions? If you have ever loved and lived with a canine, you know what we are talking about.
The Root of the Behavior
There are dog relatives such as foxes and wolves that dig dens so that they have a place where they can raise their young. Doing so helps protect their young pups from extreme weather and dangerous predators. Our pet dogs, although a distant cry from these wild wolves, share the same desire to sleep in, as well as under things that look like a den.
Dogs often dig at the ground and before lying down, circle it as if they are trying to make a softer and better resting place. If a dog is especially cold or hot, you can expect him to dig to find a warmer or cooler place to rest but this is what wild dogs do. Today’s dog owners often wander why their domesticated canines like to cover things up or dig things up.
Obviously, your beloved Fido does not have to stress himself about being hungry and being left to fend off for himself when you will provide for him. So, why does he still bury things? One of the reasons is instinct. Even if you have been feeding your dog nutritious food on schedule, it does not remove his natural urge to ensure that their future needs are met by spiriting things away for later.
Another reason is because you could be giving him way too much. If you have been overly generous lately when it comes to toys or treats, your dog may find it nice to bury them as a way of saving them because they enjoy it so much that they want to save some for later. Lastly, it is possible that your dog has nothing better to do or wants to be given attention, plain and simple. When they “play” they often cover up shiny things that are valuable such as jewelry or even shoes and remote controls.
Encouraging the Behavior
Play is one thing but if your dog starts to hide valuable things and “loses” them, it is probably a good idea to control this urge by preventing your dog’s access from the objects he often likes to cover up. When he does not have access, there will be less chances of him covering these things up.
It is best not to allow your pup to cover food up because he might end up consuming it later when it has already gone bad and this can cause further problems such as food poisoning. Jewelry and other small items can also be hazardous when ingested, not to mention you will end up losing your expensive necklace.
If you have a dog that is constantly covering things or burying things, one of the things you can do is to make sure that you are not giving him too many treats, toys, or food. Another thing to consider is to teach your dog to “hide” his things in a place around the house that is more accessible.
Dogs are just like little people with fur. We understand them and in turn, they understand us. However, at times we have to realize that they are also animals with weird habits usually driven by instinct and sometimes they are unable to control this.
Other Solutions and Considerations
There are other behavior problems to rule out such as separation-anxiety digging and escape-motivated digging. Dogs that suffer from separation anxiety may start digging or cover things to get to a family member or to avoid being left alone. Once these behavioral problems have been ruled out, you can then focus on what you can do to correct the behavior. One of the things you can do is to avoid taking your dog to the area where he has previously dug a hole to scold him after the fact. He will not be able to connect the punishment to what he did a few minutes ago. Punishment is already bad enough and delayed punishment is even worse.
Covering things up is a behavior which is very common in dogs. It is in their nature to love digging, hiding things, and then uncovering them at a later time. This can be amusing but at times it can become such a nuisance. Determine why your dog digs and if you need help with your dog’s behavior, consult a qualified professional.
By a Chow Chow lover Jhoana Carla de Toro
Published: 02/15/2018, edited: 01/30/2020