Has your dog just hidden half his dinner under the cushions on the sofa? Isn't it funny how dogs try to hide their food? Have you noticed how you can be feeding your pet a treat one minute and the next thing you know, he's high-tailing it down the garden and trying to bury it in a flower bed?
Have you just been doing your regular stint of house cleaning and inadvertently discovered your pet's secret stash of goodies? They really do try to hide their food in all manner of weird and wonderful places. Behind a chair, under the carpet, in their beds, if you keep looking you'll more than likely uncover quite a few more dried up nuggets of concealed food somewhere. Hiding food is a pretty common canine habit, but why do they do it?
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The Root of the Behavior
Dogs are in some ways natural hoarders. When they've got too much of something or are not really hungry enough to eat it right at that moment, what do they do? They save it for later. Similar to a squirrel, who likes to accumulate a good store of nuts, your dog will attempt to create his own personal pet pantry by trying to hide any excess food which comes his way when he has the chance.
Dogs get bored easily particularly when they're left alone while you go off to work or to some social event where you can't take them with you. To keep himself entertained while you're gone, your dog may well hide his food as a form of distraction. He'll bury some of his kibble or a treat, even a toy, then take a nap before setting himself the challenge of finding it again. Once he's recovered whatever it was he buried, he may well repeat the exercise by hiding it somewhere different and then searching for it again. Think of it as a doggy brain exercise which helps to alleviate the boredom and pass the time until his favorite human is home again.
Have you ever considered how you react either when you uncover your puppies hidden hoard or when he presents you with some recently unearthed treasure? Have you thought about what you say to him when you catch him trying to hide his bone under the carpet? Whether your reaction to his antics is shocked, surprised or you laughingly praised his artfulness, he got your attention, didn't he? One of a dog's main aims in life is to be his owner's center of attention. If he can accomplish that by doing something which comes completely naturally, like trying to hide his food or presenting you with the retrieved goods, he's going to happily keep on doing it.
Encouraging the Behavior
It's normal for your pup to try and hide his food. It's a habit which is genetically ingrained in him from his past life out in the wild and which, even generations of development later, is still part of his canine make-up. In bygone times, hiding his food would have made sure some was readily available if he failed to catch his prey when hunting. Burying it would have also kept it out of the reach of any other animal who happened to be in search of an easily attainable meal.
Your dog trying to bury his food in the house may be an enjoyable escapade for him, but it can have quite a destructive effect on soft furnishings and carpets. If he scratches constantly in the same spot, he'll eventually wear a nice big hole in your best shag pile or leave irreparable marks on your parquet flooring which is something best avoided where possible.
Nothing stays fresh forever not even kibble especially when it's been dampened with doggy saliva. Depending on just what food product or item your dog tries to hide, and if he doesn't retrieve it promptly, you could encounter a festering lump of unrecognizable mold or worse still, have an obnoxious smell invading your house from a source which could be difficult to locate.
Other Solutions and Considerations
If your dog likes to hide his food by burying it in the garden or on an open patch of ground, over time that carefully secreted morsel could become infused with chemicals such as fertilizers or insecticides. If your dog then digs it up and eats it, he could get accidentally poisoned. If you feel this may have happened to your pet, the best thing to do is seek immediate medical treatment.
Dogs noses can get carpet burns. If your pup has been busily attempting to hide his food by pushing at it with his nose in your living room, the constant abrasive action of rubbing against the carpet can leave him with quite a sore patch. You might want to consider consulting a qualified dog trainer, after you've acquired some soothing ointment from the vet, who'll be able to show you some distraction techniques or advise you on how to prevent your dog from trying to hide his food.
It's quite usual for your dog to try and hide his food. He's just making sure he's got a bit put away to stave of any unexpected famine. Or it could be, he's actually a real canine connoisseur who enjoys his food with a slightly more mellowed, vintage and well developed flavor.