I’m sure you’ve noticed that your dog is hiding their favorite toy. Maybe they bury it or hide it in a place where no one will find it. Why do dogs hide their toys?
The answer is not completely certain, but there are some theories.
Your dog is likely hiding or burying their toys for 1 of 3 reasons. It’s a predatory instinct, they have too many toys to protect so hiding some gives them peace of mind, or because they’re feeling stressed out/bored.
In this post we’re going to take a closer look at each of these reasons to help you understand your pup a little better.
Let’s dive in!
Reasons Your Dog Is Hiding Toys
Dogs bury food, chew bones and toys. This behavior once allowed dogs to leave food safely concealed and then return to eat it later.
The truth behind why dogs bury or hide toys can be more complex than we think. It could be old survival instincts mixed up from past experiences.
This instinctual behavior was once key for their wild ancestors’ safety. It was about leaving food safely concealed to then return later without it detected/taken by predators (including humans).
Or, it could be because they consider themselves a gatherer. Within a pack, some dogs would be designated as the “gatherers”. Others are tasked with being out in front of predators or guarding more vulnerable members (like puppies).
Keeping food and important items safe was very important so these instincts have been passed down to our pups.
These instincts are quite normal, especially if your furry friend shares a home with other four-legged roommates. When other dogs are present, many dogs won’t want to share their possessions and use some desperate behavior to protect them (like hiding, or burying their toys).
Dogs living in single dog abodes can also demonstrate this behavior, again, simply out of instinct. Especially if they don’t want you to take their fav toy away from them.
Too Many Toys To Protect!
If you notice that your dog is hiding or burying multiple toys, and often, this is a sign that they may have too many toys.
Remember that wolves will hide excess food to keep it protected. The reasons they might be burying or hiding their toys can depend on the individual dog’s temperament and past. However, in most cases it boils back up from instinctual roots of survival; protecting what you have for when times are tough!
It’s best practice to only give your dog a few toys. This helps to avoid them hiding all of their toy’s because they have too many and are feeling overwhelmed.
Stress/Anxiety Or Boredom
This is one of those reasons we all dread but it’s important to consider it as a potential reason why your dog is hiding their toys.
Dogs who hide or protect their possessions may have underlying anxiety or stress issues. This may stem from living with another dog who takes things away. It can also be from us owners taking their things away from them too often. If you see other signs that your pup might be feeling overly stressed/anxious a trip to the vet to help find a solution is a good idea.
In addition, if your dog is bored, lonely, or simply wants to get your attention, it’s not uncommon for them to bury or hide things to get you to “play” with them.
How To Curb Hiding Habits
How do you get your dog to stop hiding and burying their favorite toys?
This is a question that many pet owners have. There are definitely ways that you can curb this behavior and train them not to do it.
A sure way to stop dogs from burying their toys is by eliminating negative reactions, like yelling. Though your dog knows that they are “in trouble,” reacting excessively will only reinforce bad behavior. Just ignore the issue and use neutral body language to train them.
(We think dog’s invented the saying, “any publicity is good publicity” as they like any attention they can get!)
Especially if your dog is taking things that don’t belong to him or her. Things like your keys or the remote control, they probably want to play with you. They know you will have to look for whatever it is they have taken, so chasing them down can actually encourage the hiding.
The right way to train your pup is always using positive reinforcement. When your dog brings back their toy from wherever it’s been hidden, praise them and play with them for a few minutes—that way they know that bringing things back leads to positive results!
Breaking bad habits starts with understanding the cues that motivate them.
By establishing a predetermined area for toys and showing them this location, it’s possible to redirect unwanted behavior like hiding and burying.
If you have multiple dogs taking items from one another and/or hiding them. Try bringing them together and training them (with treats) to not actively steal. If one dog doesn’t quickly take a toy from the other, they are rewarded with a treat or an even better toy.
This will take patience but over time your pups won’t feel compelled to hide their favorite items.
In conclusion, there are many reasons dogs hide toys or bury them. It’s likely they are just following an instinct ingrained in their genetics.
You should now have the knowledge to understand why they are hiding or burying toys and how you can curb the behavior. Thanks for reading, we hope you found this article helpful.