You give a treat to your dog and he promptly disappears. He comes back just seconds later without it. Rinse, repeat. Where are all those treats going? You know that he isn’t eating them. Is he hiding them?
Why does my dog hide her treats?
Here’s an easy one: She’s keeping it for later.
Now, why she’s keeping it for later is more of a question.
In the wild, dogs will catch something like a rabbit, eat everything they want, and then they will bury the rest so that other scavengers or predators don’t take it. They’ll return later when they’re hungry; it’s their version of “setting aside” for a rainy day.
As to why your dog might hide her treats:
Your dog doesn’t feel comfortable eating it
If you have other dogs around, this is likely. Your dog may feel uncomfortable eating around other people or other dogs, so she hides her treats for her alone time.
Your dog’s not very hungry
Not all dogs are particularly food-driven. Some dogs really will only eat when they’re hungry. If your dog is like this, she might be putting it away for when she’s feeling a bit peckish.
Your dog doesn’t like them that much
Why would a dog store something she doesn’t like? Well, she might figure that she might need it later on — so why not? Even if she doesn’t want it now, it could come in handy.
Your dog’s busy
It may seem funny, but if your dog is already distracted by something else, she might not want to stop and eat her treat. If she’s in the middle of playing, she might prefer to hide it for later and continue playing.
Your dog’s done with it for now
This happens with treats that take a while. You might have a dog chew that will take hours for her to get through. She’ll chew it for an hour and then hide it, so she can return to it later.
Your dog’s used to having to scavenge
If you have a rescue dog, your dog might be accustomed to scavenging. If so, she’s going to be a little more aggressive about hiding food around in case she needs it.
Your dog just doesn’t want it
Conversely, it’s possible your dog doesn’t want the treat, period. If your dog doesn’t want it, she might still bury it, because she doesn’t want it to attract other predators.
Most of these reasons are fairly benign. It’s just a strange quirk of dogs that they like to hide things for later, much like you might sequester a tub of ice cream into a hidden space in the freezer.
What to do about my dog hiding her treats?
For the most part, this behavior is harmless. If your dog is hiding her treats, she just doesn’t want them now. But she might want them later.
That being said, if you wake up with treats behind your pillow, it could become less cute. There are some valid reasons you might not want your dog hiding edible food around your house, such as ants.
Luckily, it’s pretty easy to address this problem:
Give your dog treats in areas she can’t hide them
For instance, you can hand your dog treats in the laundry room, where there really isn’t anywhere to go. You will then see if she eats it or if she tries to hold onto it.
Take treats away once your dog is done with it
This is particularly important for bones. If your dog doesn’t finish a bone, you should take it away. Dogs should only be eating bones specifically made for dogs, and they shouldn’t be eating them unattended, regardless.
Make sure your dog isn’t worried about other dogs
Give your dog treats when your dog isn’t near other dogs. Dogs feel very vulnerable when they eat and they won’t eat if they feel intimidated.
Consider how many treats you’re giving
Most dogs only need one or two treats a day. If you’re giving your dog a lot of treats, you might just be giving your dog way too many; she may be full!
Something to consider: The instinct to bury food is pretty strong with dogs. So, you really don’t need to focus on countering that instinct so much as making sure your dog doesn’t have things to bury and have the opportunity to bury them.
Why does my dog hide her treats in my bed?
In short, dogs hide treats for a variety of reasons: they aren’t hungry now, they don’t feel comfortable eating, they want to eat it later, or they just don’t like it all that much. Dogs are used to hiding food for later, so if you give them something they don’t want right now, they will hide it.
That explains why, for instance, a dog might hide something in a hole in the yard. It doesn’t explain why dogs will frequently hide treats in your bed.
But it actually makes perfect sense if you consider a few facts:
- In a house, it’s the only place you can bury something. Your dog can’t (or, well, shouldn’t) pull up the carpeting. Your dog can’t dig through the tile. But your dog can shove something in blankets or shove something in couch cushions. Dogs tend to “bury” things in soft objects like cloth simply because it’s the only thing they can use to cover something. It makes perfect sense to them.
- Your dog is usually used to the bed. It’s a safe place that they know and will remember. And because they don’t have any particular rules against snacking in bed, it makes sense that they would bury their treats in a place that’s familiar to them.
- The bed is often empty. During the day, no one might be in the bedroom, which gives your dog the perfect time to squirrel things away. Your dog, of course, might not consider the fact that you’re going to go home and get into bed.
So, while it may be annoying or amusing to you, it’s a sensible decision to a dog.
Why is my dog suddenly hiding its bones?
Let’s say your dog has never hidden bones before but has suddenly started doing so. As we’ve covered, there are many reasons a dog could hide something. But there are fewer reasons why a dog would suddenly start hiding something.
A few things to consider:
- It might not feel safe. Dogs are vulnerable when eating and especially vulnerable when gnawing on a bone. If your dog suddenly feels as though it could be in danger, or if it’s been getting things stolen by other dogs, it will bury its bones rather than eat them.
- It may not feel well. If your dog has a toothache, for instance, it might not want to eat the bone now. But it still doesn’t want to give the bone up, so it will bury it instead. You may want to watch your dog to determine whether it could be sick.
- It may not be hungry. If you’re feeding your dog more or if your dog has just slowed down with old age, it may not feel like eating as much and it may decide to hoard its bones rather than eat them.
- It may not want the bone. If a dog detects that a bone is rancid or otherwise undesirable, it may still bury it. It doesn’t want it for later, but it also doesn’t want it to attract other predators.
Hiding bones is very normal dog behavior. Your dog may just not have thought about it before or might not have had the inclination. For the most part, it’s really nothing to be alarmed about. But you will want to take your dog’s bones away before it hides it because it can be dangerous for dogs to eat bones unsupervised.
Why does my dog hide food around the house?
Dogs hide food around the house for the same reason they hide treats and bones.
Dogs are predators. But they’re also scavengers. Hunting is difficult. When dogs can, they will try to save as much of the meat they’ve hunted as possible. The primary mechanism they have for doing this is to bury it.
So, when dogs have food that they don’t want to eat, they bury it. They may bury it because they aren’t hungry, because they dislike the food, or because there are other animals (such as other dogs) around that they don’t want to get the food.
If your dog is hiding food, you may be feeding it too much, or you may be feeding it something that it dislikes. Either way, the answer is to take away the food before your dog buries it, and potentially to start experimenting with other brands. If your dog is suddenly hiding food and not eating much, it may merit a trip to the vet.