Dog Digging
Many dogs, including Airedales, Golden Retrievers, Manchester Terriers and Miniature Schnauzers, like to hide things in safe places. But your pooch doesn’t need a bank safe-deposit box to protect his prized possessions. All he needs is some soft dirt or a pile of laundry. And your dog won’t confine himself to burying his things — he’ll take yours too. One minute your watch is on the nightstand, and the next it has disappeared. Missing the TV remote? Check that fresh dirt mound in your backyard. That lump under the sofa cushion? Your dog’s toy or your toddler’s doll.

What Your Dog Wants

Your dog is following an ancestral urge. Thousands of years ago, roaming dogs did not know where their next meal would come from, so after a better-than-expected hunt, they buried surplus food to hide it from scavengers. When these dogs became hungry, they returned to the secret location and dug up their leftovers. Dirt also served as Mother Nature’s refrigerator, keeping buried bones fresher longer by protecting them from sunlight. This natural “aging” made the bone tastier too.

Have you been too generous with treats and toys? Your dog may simply be storing extras in a safe place to retrieve later and possibly share with his canine visitors.

Some dogs cannot resist bling and are attracted to shiny objects, such as watches and earrings. They grab these items off counters and dash to a certain burying place, perhaps under the cushion in a dog bed or in the laundry basket. Dogs often engage in this type of grab-and-hide behavior when they are lonely, bored or seeking attention. They are not being mean or malicious — they hope their actions will garner playtime with you.

How to Respond

Dogs have long been advocates of the “save for a rainy day” mentality, and their mighty noses faithfully guide them back to the places where they have buried their treasures. But that doesn’t mean you need to let your dog stash his treasures all over your house.

What Dogs Want Book Cover

To minimize this type of hoarding, pick up spare toys or dog bones. Limit your dog’s access to one or two toys at a time and store the rest away. Rotate your dog’s toys regularly. By limiting the quantity and providing variety, you may lessen your dog’s strong urge to take his treasures out into the yard and bury them.

Indoors, direct her need to bury by teaching your dog to hide a favorite bone or toy under a blanket. Make it a fun game you play a few times a week. Strive to improve your dog’s vocabulary understanding by having her correctly bury the right object.

Vet’s Note

Burying things can be a nuisance for you, but it can be a health hazard for your dog. The backyard marinating of an old bone may cause stomach upset or diarrhea in your dog. If this is the case, she needs vet care. For the sake of her health, do not let your dog take edible items out to the backyard to bury.