If your Labrador has been hiding its treats or bones you might want to know why and what you can do about it. In this post, I will show you common causes and what you can do about them.
So, why does my Labrador hide its treats and bones? The most likely reason is that it does it naturally and that it is an inherited trait. However, it could also be due to anxiety, nausea, being fed too much, possessiveness or you might have inadvertently rewarded the behavior.
Your Labrador could be doing it for many reasons and it might be due to a combination of them. However, there are a number of things you can consider when trying to figure out the exact reason and there are a number of things you can do to stop it.
Why your Labrador hides its treats and bones
Below are some common reasons why Labradors hide their bones and what would make them more likely to be the reason why yours has been doing it.
The reason why your Labrador does it is likely to be that it is in its nature to do it (source). When its ancestors would catch food they would sometimes stash the food away since it would allow them to have food available to them if they were unable to find any more. This is a trait that dogs still have today and it could be why your Labrador hides its treats and toys.
Another possible cause is that something has been causing it to be anxious. This would be more likely if it has started doing it suddenly and if it has been showing other signs of being anxious such as by hiding.
The reason could be that it has nausea which would be more likely if your Labrador has been “air burying” its food and if it has been eating less. It would also be more likely if it has been doing other things such as vomiting, being fatigued or pulling to the side on walks.
It is being fed too much
The cause might be that it is being fed too much and it feels like it should stash the food it doesn’t need away for later. Generally, it is recommended for Labradors to eat between 1000 and 1200 calories per day (source) but it would help to confirm exactly how much your Labrador should be getting with your local vet.
The reason could be that it is being possessive which is where it does not want other people or animals going near its possessions. This would be more likely if your Labrador also has other possessive tendencies such as by guarding its food when eating or protecting its spot on the sofa.
You have inadvertently rewarded the behavior
It might also be the case that you have inadvertently encouraged the behavior by giving it things that it wants when it does it. If you tend to give it more treats, bones or attention when it hides them, it will likely do it more in order to get more rewards.
Instead, it would help to avoid giving it rewards when it doesn’t behave the way you want and to follow the other tips mentioned below.
Things to consider
Below are some things to consider when trying to figure out why your Labrador has been doing it.
When it started doing it
If your Labrador has started doing it suddenly, it would help to consider what else happened when it first started doing it.
If it started doing it suddenly it would be more likely to be due to things such as being fed more, becoming anxious or possibly becoming ill.
If it has always done it then it would be more likely that it does it naturally.
When it does it more
It would also help to consider the timing of when it hides its treats and bones since the timing could also have something to do with it.
If it hides its treats more when another pet is nearby then it might be the case that it is trying to hide its treats from that pet.
Whereas, if it does it at random times then it could be doing it for any of the reasons mentioned above.
What to do about your Labrador burying its treats
Below are a number of options you have when getting your Labrador to stop doing it. You will likely find that using a combination of them will work best.
Avoid encouraging the behavior
As mentioned above, it could be the case that your Labrador has learned to do it more since it gets rewards when it does it.
Instead of giving your Labrador things when it hides its treats try to reduce its ability to do it and to only reward it when it is well behaved.
Reduce its ability to dig
Another thing you can do is to make it harder for your Labrador to dig holes to put its bones in. You could do this by sectioning off parts of the backyard where it is easier for it to dig. Another option would be to cover the area that it tends to dig with rocks.
Get help from a dog behaviorist
If you are not sure why your Labrador has been doing it but it has been doing it a lot, it would help to get help from a dog behaviorist. By doing so, you should be able to see why it has been doing it and how to get it to stop.
It is not uncommon for Labradors or other dogs to hide their food or bones so as long as it is not showing signs of being possessive, ill or anxious you could allow it to do it if you want to.