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article by uday kadali

Why Do Dogs Cover Their Food? Reasons

Every living being is possessive about all the things that they love, and so is the case with dogs. Dogs never want to share their favorite things, however favorite that person might be. Generally, dogs who stay in a multi-pet household adopt this behavior more than anyone else. So as a solution to this, they hide their favorite things, especially food, under their paws or nose or buried in some hidden place. 

So if you find your dog exhibiting burial behavior, don't be scared or worried. It results from several reasons. This post covers all the things related to the burial behavior of dogs and how you can stop them from doing that. So, let’s begin!

What are the Reasons Behind Dogs Covering Their Food?

The hoarding tendency of your dog is known as ‘caching food’. This is generally an ancestral instinct of every dog, some overcome it due to proper guidance and training, while some cannot. So, whether you find it cute or quirky, it is essential to know the intentions behind your dog exhibiting this behavior. 

The following section lists some of the reasons why dogs try to cover their food:

1. Natural Instincts:

During ancient times, people did not domesticate the dogs, which led them to look out for themselves and find their food which included covering and hiding their kills as well. Over all these years, this ancestral natural instinct has been passed on from generation to generation. 

They buried their food in a relatively colder place so that they could eat it later. Sometimes they cannot even cover the food effectively, so all they do is shovel dirt on top of it with their nose. 

2. Saving for Scarcity:

Dogs generally move in packs by nature, and hiding food may be their strategy to help the pack survive. Whenever they get a good kill or have a source of surplus of food, they save it for later times in case they face scarcity. As said before, storing food underneath the top layer was a way to preserve food because of the colder temperature. Basically, they did it for food security.  

3. Overfeeding:

Overfeeding lists as one of the most important reasons for dogs to cover their food.   Sometimes our loving nature may turn out to be bad for your fur baby. Rampant overfeeding forces the dogs to hide their food as they are always satiated. 

4. Nausea Due to Some Illness:

Sometimes they might feel sick and not want to eat anything. This may happen even with those that are absolute appetizers of your dog. So, if that is the situation, he might choose to cover up the food and keep it for later when he feels okay. 

5. Anxiety or Stress:

Dogs who had to face tough times in their life and had to fight to fetch food show up with anxiety-related food hiding. However, once your dog is accustomed to your love and care and is assured that he is in a safe environment, he might get over this behavior and be a good boy! 

Should We Encourage the Behaviour of Dogs Covering Their Food?

The behavior of dogs covering their food should not be encouraged by the pet parents even after knowing that it is their instinctive behavior. They might hide something that is harmful to their health and consume it whenever you are not around.  

Therefore, whenever you guess or find that your dog is hiding something, rectify him at that place itself so that he does not repeat this behavior in the future. Assure him that he is in a safe space and nothing will happen to his food even if he takes it after some time. Provide him food at the same time so that he knows he will get his food at a stipulated time. 

What to Do With Dogs Covering Their Food?

What to Do With Dogs Covering Their Food?

You might wonder how to correct your dog if he has this instinctual behavior.  We have put down some of the best tricks that might correct this behavior: 

1. Enforce Good Feeding Habits:

Avoid free-feeding your dog regularly. Free-feeding is okay but only at times. If you continue this behavior, they will not have a proper appetite which will consequently fuel food-hiding behavior.  

2. Teach the basic commands:

Just as you train your dog to follow the commands to sit or stand, you also need to train your dog to follow the feeding commands. The feeding commands will help them to grow in terms of their behavior by patiently waiting for their food and respecting you as their parent. 

3. Mark a Proper Feeding Area:

Provide their meals at a specific time and at a specific place. This will help them to associate a specific location with their meal and instill a sense of security in them concerning their food. Hence, they will have very less inclination to protect and safeguard their food. 

4. Use Positive Reinforcement:

Everyone likes to get rewarded, be it humans or dogs. So, reward your dog with their favorite treats, even if they do something very small such as patiently waiting for their food. Positive reinforcement has been proven to train dogs in a better way and reduce aggression if continued for a long time. 

5. Reach Out For Professional Help:

Lastly, if you feel that you are unable to train your baby or that he is becoming too aggressive, it will be better if you seek the help of a professional dog trainer to get a hold of your situation. 

I hope the above-mentioned tips will help you to help and train your dog to some extent. 

Conclusion

Dogs inherit and display several behaviors from their ancestors that they don't need to follow in this modern world. Not a single dog in this world has to worry about their survival. If your dog is covering its food, it might be related to some underlying disease that is troubling your dog. So, identify the reason and pick out a solution according to that. This will help your dog lead a comfortable life in the long run. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Why do dogs cover their food with paws or noses?

Covering the food with their paws and nose comes under their natural instinct. They are born with this behavior. When you find your dog hiding their food with its paws or nose, you need to understand that they are just saving and hoarding their food. 

How can I discourage my dog from covering its food indoors? 

Yes. Even though it is one of their natural instincts, you should always discourage their food-hiding behavior indoors. You may need to be made aware of what they are hiding and whether it is safe for them. Hence, this might lead them to consume unhygienic and poisonous foods. So, whenever you find your dog doing that, you need to tell him to stop and consume it at that time. 

Should I be concerned if my dog covers its food indoors? 

Your concern depends on the type of food that your dog is hiding. If your dog is hiding some kind of food that is perishable, you definitely need to be concerned about that. Perishable foods do not stay good after a certain period of time, and if your dog comes to consume them, he may have several gastrointestinal problems. 

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