Why Do Dogs Hide Food?
When a dog hides food, it is simply acting instinctively and it doesn’t necessarily mean that the dog doesn’t like that food, or that your pet is unwell. Dogs will hide food to keep it safe so that they can go back and eat it later, much in the same way that some dogs will sometimes hide toys, so that they can retrieve them later to play with.
Hiding toys does not cause too much of a problem but, if a dog begins to hide food around the home, that can become a big issue or a dog owner. Any food that a dog hides indoors will quickly start to smell and it will soon become a health hazard and attract rodents and insects. A dog may also try to bury food indoors, which can lead to damage to floors, carpets and furniture.
Understanding why dogs hide food
When dogs lived in the wild, food could become scarce and dogs had no guarantee that would have food to eat every single day. Even though you feed your dog every day, they still have that instinct to bury some of that of food in case you don’t feed them the next day. Some dogs quickly learn that they do not need to this, but some still follow their instinct. The problem can also occur in rescue dogs, if they have experienced days with no food in the past.
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Nervous dogs may hide their food
In some cases, a dog may hide their food because they don’t feel comfortable eating it straight away. This could be because they are in unfamiliar surroundings, there are other dogs around, or that he simply doesn’t feel comfortable eating when people are around.
Overfed dogs may hide their food
If a dog has more food to eat than it needs, then it won’t let the food go to waste, it will revert to instinct and hide it away. This can occur when you leave food down all day for a dog, or you are constantly feeding your pet treats.
How to prevent a dog hoarding food
There are a number of things that you can do to discourage your dog from hiding food. The first thing to try is to feed your dog several small meals over the course of the day. Each time you feed your dog, always remove the dish after he has finished; don’t leave the leftovers out for the dog, because that will encourage him to hide it away. Also, avoid giving the dog treats between meals. The more of a regular routine you get into with feeding your dog, the more he will understand that his next meal is not too far away so he doesn’t need to hide food.
If your dog doesn’t appear to be comfortable eating his food right there and then, take the food away and try again later. If his reluctance to eat food straight away is being caused by anxiety, try feeding your dog in a quiet place where he can eat alone. In the wild, dogs will hide food to prevent other dogs in the pack eating it and then go back to the food later when no other dogs were around. This instinct could be what is causing your dog to hide food if you live in a busy, noisy household.
A dog hiding food is a perfectly natural instinct and it doesn’t usually means that there is anything wrong who the dog. If a dog suddenly starts to not eat its food, however, and you can see no other reason for this change in behaviour, you should take the dog to a vet.
Otherwise, implementing a meal time routine will teach your dog that it will be fed regularly, which is the best way to train a dog not to hide food.