Understanding Your Dog's Instinct to Bury Bones: Why Does My Dog Do It?


Why does my dog want to bury his bone?

Have you ever watched your dog bury a bone in the backyard and wondered why they do it? Dogs have a natural instinct to bury bones and other prized possessions, which originates from their wild ancestors. Understanding this behavior can give you insight into your dog’s instincts and provide a better understanding of their needs.

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Just like their wolf ancestors, dogs have a strong instinct to bury food for later consumption. This behavior stems from their survival instincts, as wild dogs didn’t always have regular access to food. Burying food allowed them to hide it from other predators and ensured they had a reserve for when food was scarce.

Even though domesticated dogs no longer have to worry about hunting for their next meal, their burying behavior is still deeply ingrained. Dogs may bury their bones to keep them safe and secure, similar to how they would in the wild. It’s their way of ensuring they have a “stash” of food readily available, even if they don’t need to rely on it for survival.

Additionally, burying bones can serve as a way for dogs to alleviate stress and anxiety. Dogs are known to engage in burying behavior when they are feeling overwhelmed or need an outlet for their excess energy. Digging and burying can provide a physical and mental release for them, allowing them to channel their instincts in a constructive way.

Understanding your dog’s instinct to bury bones can help you meet their needs and provide appropriate outlets for their natural behaviors. If your dog is constantly digging and burying, consider providing them with alternative activities, such as puzzle toys or chew treats, to redirect their energy. By doing so, you can help them feel more satisfied and fulfilled, while also preserving your backyard from extensive digging!

The Origins of a Natural Behavior

Dogs have a natural instinct to bury bones, and this behavior can be traced back to their ancestors in the wild. In the wild, dogs had to hunt and scavenge for their food. They would often catch more food than they could eat in one sitting, so they would bury the leftovers to save them for later. This behavior was essential for their survival, as it allowed them to store food for times when food was scarce.

This instinct to bury bones has been passed down through generations of dogs and is still present in domesticated dogs today. Even though they may not need to store food for survival, dogs still have the urge to bury bones as it is deeply engrained in their instincts.

When dogs bury bones, they use their paws and nose to dig a hole in the ground. They then place the bone in the hole and cover it with dirt or other materials like leaves or grass. This burying behavior serves multiple purposes. First, it helps dogs hide their bones from other animals who may try to steal them. Second, it helps preserve the bone by keeping it out of the elements, such as rain or sunlight, which can cause it to deteriorate or spoil.

It’s important to note that not all dogs have the instinct to bury bones. Some dogs may not feel the need to bury their bones due to various factors, such as their individual personality or their upbringing. However, for dogs that do exhibit this behavior, it’s important to understand and respect their natural instincts.

Reasons behind Your Dog’s Bone Burying Habit

Have you ever wondered why your dog insists on burying bones? This behavior is a natural instinct that dates back to their ancestors, the wolves. Dogs have a strong innate desire to bury their prized possessions, like bones, for various reasons.

1. Hoarding and protecting resources: Dogs bury bones as a way of hoarding and protecting their resources. In the wild, wolves would bury their leftover food to save it for later when food might be scarce. Similarly, domesticated dogs bury bones to ensure they have a secure source of food in case of future shortages.

2. Satisfying their chewing instincts: Dogs have a natural urge to chew on things, and burying bones allows them to satisfy this instinct. When dogs bury bones, they can dig them up and chew on them later, providing them with mental and physical stimulation.

3. Marking territory: Dogs have an inherent need to mark their territory. By burying bones, dogs leave their scent on the buried object, effectively marking it as their own. This territorial behavior is a way for dogs to establish their presence and deter potential threats from encroaching on their space.

4. Hiding valuables: Dogs may bury bones as a way of hiding their valuable possessions. By burying their bones, dogs keep them safe from potential theft or competition from other animals. This behavior also stems from their instinct to hide their belongings to prevent others from discovering and taking them.

5. Comfort and security: Burying bones can also provide dogs with a sense of comfort and security. By burying their bones, dogs create a safe and private space where they can retreat to when they feel anxious or stressed. It gives them a sense of control and helps them cope with their emotions.

Conclusion: While dogs no longer have to worry about scarcity of food like their wolf ancestors, the instinct to bury bones remains deeply ingrained. By understanding the reasons behind this behavior, you can better cater to your dog’s needs and provide them with alternative outlets for their natural instincts.

Tips for Dealing with Bone Burying Behavior

If your dog has a habit of burying bones, there are several strategies you can try to manage this behavior:

  1. Provide appropriate chew toys: Make sure your dog has access to a variety of safe and durable chew toys. This can help redirect their burying instinct towards an object that is more suitable for chewing.
  2. Supervise bone time: If you do give your dog a bone to chew on, make sure to supervise them during this time. This way, you can intervene if they start to bury it and redirect their attention elsewhere.
  3. Teach a “leave it” command: Train your dog to respond to a “leave it” command. This can help you prevent them from burying bones or other objects when you don’t want them to.
  4. Designate a digging area: If your dog loves to bury things, consider creating a designated digging area in your backyard. Fill it with sand or soil and encourage your dog to dig and bury toys there instead of in inappropriate places.
  5. Provide mental stimulation: Burying bones is often a way for dogs to engage their natural instincts. Providing plenty of mental stimulation through interactive toys, puzzle feeders, and training sessions can help satisfy their instincts and reduce the need for burying behavior.
  6. Consult a professional: If your dog’s bone burying behavior becomes excessive or problematic, it’s always a good idea to consult a professional dog trainer or behaviorist. They can provide tailored advice and guidance on how to address the behavior effectively.


Why do dogs bury bones?

Dogs bury bones as an instinctual behavior that originates from their ancestors. In the wild, dogs would bury bones to hide them from other animals and to preserve them for later consumption. This behavior is also rooted in the fact that dogs are natural scavengers, and burying bones is a way for them to store food for later when they may not have immediate access to it. Burying bones can also be a way for dogs to mark their territory and to create a sense of security.

Why does my dog sometimes forget where it buried its bones?

Dogs have an incredible sense of smell and can remember and locate smells for long periods of time. However, there are several reasons why a dog may sometimes forget where it buried its bones. One reason could be that the dog found a more secure or desirable location to bury the bone, so it dug it up and reburied it elsewhere. Another reason could be that the dog simply lost interest in the bone and forgot about it. Additionally, environmental factors like rain or other animals digging in the area could also contribute to the dog forgetting the exact location of the buried bone.

Is it normal for my dog to bury bones indoors?

Burying bones indoors is not a natural behavior for dogs, as they typically bury bones outdoors in soil or sand. However, some dogs may exhibit this behavior indoors if they have not been properly trained or if they are lacking mental or physical stimulation. Burying bones indoors can also be a sign of anxiety or stress in dogs. If your dog is consistently burying bones indoors, it is a good idea to consult a veterinarian or a professional dog trainer to address any underlying issues and to provide appropriate outlets for your dog’s instincts and energy.

How can I prevent my dog from burying bones in my garden?

To prevent your dog from burying bones in your garden, there are several steps you can take. Firstly, make sure that your dog has designated areas or toys for burying and digging. Provide your dog with plenty of mental and physical stimulation to keep them engaged and prevent them from seeking out your garden as a place to bury their bones. Consider providing your dog with puzzle toys or interactive games that satisfy their natural instincts. Additionally, regularly remove any bones or objects from your garden that may encourage your dog to bury them. Lastly, consistent training and positive reinforcement can help redirect your dog’s behavior and provide alternative outlets for their burying instincts.

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