Your dog will likely have plenty of funny little habits which you will pick up on as time passes and you get to know it better. All dogs are different but one of the most famous little quirks attributed to dogs is their knack for burying the bones you give them to chew on. It’s something you see a lot in entertainment, dogs on television shows and in movies who are always digging in the back garden, potentially to the annoyance of their owner or the owner’s neighbor. But it’s only when you get a dog of your own that you start to realize that a lot of what you see or hear about is actually true. Dogs will frequently bury the chews that you give them. It doesn’t make a lot of sense on an immediate level, so let’s find out what is going on in the mind of your dog when they bury a bone.
It all has to do with evolution. Household dogs which have all been bred in specific ways to make them as appropriate for you look after as a pet, are all ancestrally linked to hounds, wild dogs and wolves. “When you really look closely at some breeds of dog it’s pretty easy to see how closely related wild animals, the sorts of which you are only likely to come across in nature documentaries”, points out Mark Herald, pet blogger at Australia2Write and WriteMyx.
In the past, animals of this sort survived on a ‘feast or fast’ basis. This means that when a wolf managed to get a kill, it was a massive windfall for him and his pack. But most of the time, particularly in the winter, food was scarce which meant that these sorts of animals would go hungry for weeks on end. The solution to this problem was that when hunting was easier, or if they ever managed to get a one off, they would save the leftovers for the times when it got much tougher to survive. So, just like humans might stock supplies in the cupboard when there’s a hurricane or a blizzard, your pet’s ancestors would have hidden food by burying it in the ground in a location where it would be easy for them to track down where they had left the remains, if they were to ever get desperate enough that picking at those scraps could save them from dying out.
When you think about those packs of wolves digging to bury their last supplies for the winter, it may seem silly watching your dog, who is comfortably fed two delicious meals a day, digging away in the garden to bury their bone. It’s almost a bit of a show, as if your dog is pretending what it would be like to be a wild dog. Part of the issue, if you’re a dog owner who wants to stop your dog from digging, is supply. “Given how well looked after domesticated dogs are, they have a big supply of snacks, food and chews all the time. If you limit how many bury-able things your dog has, it’s likely to dig around in the garden much less. If you have multiple dogs, it may be doing it to hide what they voice as a threatened resource from its brother or sister” explains Terri Waldman, a Pet blogger at Brit Student and Next Coursework.
So, don’t worry if you see your dog digging. They’re not weird, they just have a serious case of evolutionary hangover to deal with. There are things you can do to limit how much your dog is digging but in general it’s just a nice little quirk that gives your dog a chance for some fun and exercise.
Martha Jameson is a content editor and proof-reader at PhD Kingdom and Academic brits. Before she chose writing as her calling, she was a manager and web designer. Martha’s main goal is to share her experience, motivation and knowledge with her readers at blogs like Origin writings.