Have you ever given your dog a treat, only to find it stuffed behind a sofa cushion minutes later? Perhaps they’re a sucker for stealing your socks? Truth is, some dogs just love hiding things like treats, toys or even household items.
The real question on our lips is ‘why does my dog hide treats, toys and other random stuff?’ We’re diving into the many reasons why your dog might be hiding stuff and different ways to address the behaviour.
The most common reason why your dog is hiding things, is due to their natural instinct of hoarding or guarding food or possessions. This survival skill has been passed down from their ancient canid ancestors who never knew where their next meal was coming from. Therefore they would bury it in the dirt to effectively ‘save it for later’, but also to hide it from other animals who may be scavenging nearby.
In a similar way, if there’s other pets in the house, they could also be instinctively hiding it to prevent other animals from stealing it.
This is known as “caching,” and while it is a harmless behaviour, it can become an issue when they start to uncover previously hidden perishable items (like raw meat or bones).
Saving it for later
Just like us humans, when we wrap up a half eaten big chocolate bar and pop it in the fridge – your dog may just be saving it for later. Dogs tend to hide their most treasured items, and what’s more treasured to a dog than food or treats? Why do they do this? It’s so they can keep them safe so they don’t end up lost.
If your dog has had any life-changing moments such as a new sibling or new house, or even a new family then this could cause them anxiety or stress issues. In this case your dog might be hiding things to give him/her a sense of comfort. This can also be typical of rescue dogs who have bad experiences of competing for food or limited resources. They are just trying to make sure their new space is safe and make sure that no other dog is going to take away their treats or toys.
Underlying health issues
If the behaviour is fairly new, then it could be a sign of an underlying health issue. Dogs who are feeling nauseas, may hide treats or ‘air bury’ them (covering it with imaginary dirt). If your pooch isn’t eating their dinner or breakfast and has additional symptoms like sickness or diarrhoea then it may be worth a visit to the vet. However, if you have a picky pooch, or if they’re adjusting to a new diet they may also partake in this behaviour.
Another reason for this behaviour, could be that your dog is bored. If this is the case, you’ll usually find them stealing and hiding items that belong to family members like socks or the remote. This is attention-seeking behaviour that could put them in harm’s way particularly if a stolen item is swallowed.
Put aside 20 minutes every day to give them the playtime they crave, or take them on a longer walk.
How To Prevent The Habit?
Ultimately, it’s important to note, that if it’s part of their instinct to do this, it’s nature not naughtiness. First determine whether or not it is part of their quirk before attempting to change the behaviour.
If the behaviour is becoming harmful, potentially dangerous or if they’re hiding things they shouldn’t be then use playtime (and small training treats) to teach your dog the right behaviour.
Give your dog toys and teach them to ‘give’ or ‘drop’ so that they can establish that by listening for your cue and returning/dropping the item they get rewarded. Then every time you see your pooch about to do a sneaky hoard, encourage them to come back and ‘give’ or ‘drop’. Once they’ve done that, reward with a treat or playtime.
Take control of the situation before it happens. You can do this by putting certain items out of reach from your pooch. Particularly if the item they usually hoard is dangerous if swallowed. You may also want to let your dog chew a treat in a place where there isn’t anywhere to hide it.
Aside from this, you may want to consider giving your pooch less treats of toys. When dogs have a surplus of treats, they may be more likely to bury things. If your dog hasn’t chewed the treat you gave them, put it away. The more treats they have out, the more likely they are to start hiding them. If you have many toys, try to rotate them so your dog only has one or two at a time. This is also good for mental stimulation.
Does Your Dog Hide Treats?
Have you been wondering ‘why does my dog hide treats?’ Did this article resonate with you and your little treat hiding hound? Let us know in the comments below!