Why Do Dogs Try to Cover Their Food? A List of Reasons

If you’re a dog owner, you may have noticed that your furry friend has a peculiar habit of trying to cover their food with anything they can find, like a blanket or a toy.

This behavior can be puzzling, but it’s actually rooted in their instincts and has a variety of reasons behind it. In this article, we’ll explore the different reasons why dogs try to cover their food and what it means for their health and behavior.

Instinctual behavior is one of the primary reasons why dogs try to cover their food. This behavior is a remnant of their wild ancestors who had to bury their extra food to keep it safe from other predators.

Your dog may be trying to “bury” their food bowl to keep it safe and prevent other animals from getting to it. This behavior is also a way for dogs to hide their food from other dogs in the household, especially if they feel threatened or anxious.

Key Takeaways

Dog Burying Food
  • Dogs try to cover their food due to instinctual behavior, dietary reasons, health issues, behavioral issues, and environmental factors.
  • Addressing the underlying cause of this behavior can help improve your dog’s overall health and well-being.
  • Providing a calm and safe environment, choosing the right type of food, and consulting with a veterinarian can help address this behavior.

Instinctual Behavior

Dogs have been domesticated for thousands of years, but they still exhibit many of the same instincts as their wild ancestors. One such instinct is the behavior of covering their food. This behavior can be traced back to their survival and denning instincts.

Survival Instinct

Dogs are natural scavengers and hunters. In the wild, they would hunt and gather food and then hide it to protect it from other predators. This behavior is known as caching. When a dog covers its food, it is trying to protect it from other animals, just like it would in the wild.

This instinctual behavior is especially prevalent in dogs that have had to fend for themselves in the past. Stray dogs or dogs that have been abandoned may have learned to cover their food to protect it from other animals or humans.

Denning Instinct

Dogs are den animals, and they have a natural instinct to create a safe and comfortable space for themselves. In the wild, this would mean digging a den or burrow to sleep in. When a dog covers its food, it may be trying to create a den-like environment for itself.

This behavior is especially common in dogs that feel uneasy or uncomfortable in their environment. By covering their food, they are creating a sense of security and comfort for themselves.

It’s important to note that not all dogs exhibit this behavior. Some dogs may be perfectly content to eat their food without covering it. However, if your dog does exhibit this behavior, it’s important to understand that it is a natural instinct and not something to be punished or discouraged.

Dietary Reasons

Dogs can be picky eaters just like humans, and they may try to cover their food if they don’t like the taste. Taste preferences can vary from dog to dog, and some dogs may prefer certain types of food over others. If your dog seems to be covering their food frequently, it may be worth experimenting with different types of food to see if there is a particular flavor or texture that they prefer.

Taste Preference

Some dogs may also try to cover their food if they are not getting enough variety in their diet. Just like humans, dogs can get bored with the same food day after day. If your dog is getting the same food every day, they may try to cover it to indicate that they want something different.

You may also see them spitting their food out.  Introducing new flavors and textures to your dog’s diet can help prevent boredom and encourage them to eat their food.

Overfeeding

Another reason why dogs may try to cover their food is that they are being overfed. If your dog is getting more food than they need, they may try to hide it for later.

This behavior is more common in dogs that are fed once a day, as they may feel the need to save some food for later. If you suspect that your dog is being overfed, it may be worth consulting with your veterinarian to determine the appropriate portion size for your dog’s age, size, and activity level.

Health Issues

dog burying food bowl

If your dog is trying to cover their food, it may be an indication of underlying health issues. Here are two common health issues that can cause dogs to cover their food:

Dental Problems

Dental problems can make it difficult for dogs to eat, leading to a decrease in appetite. Dogs with dental problems may try to cover their food as a way to save it for later when they feel more comfortable chewing. Signs of dental problems include bad breath, swollen gums, and loose or missing teeth. If you suspect your dog has dental problems, take them to the vet for a check-up.

Digestive Disorders

Digestive disorders can cause dogs to feel nauseous or experience stomach pain, leading to a decrease in appetite. Dogs with digestive disorders may try to cover their food as a way to save it for later when they feel better.

Signs of digestive disorders include vomiting, diarrhea, and constipation. If you suspect your dog has a digestive disorder, take them to the vet for a check-up.

Behavioral Issues

If your dog is covering their food excessively, it could be a sign of underlying behavioral issues. Here are two common reasons why dogs may exhibit this behavior:

Anxiety

Anxiety can cause a dog to feel insecure and uneasy, leading them to try to hoard their food. This behavior is often seen in rescue dogs or those who have experienced trauma in their past. If your dog is exhibiting signs of anxiety, such as excessive panting, pacing, or whining, it’s essential to address the issue promptly.

To help ease your dog’s anxiety, you may want to consider:

  • Providing a safe and secure environment
  • Using calming techniques, such as aromatherapy or music
  • Seeking the help of a professional dog trainer or behaviorist

Territorial Behavior

Dogs may also cover their food as a way to protect their resources and assert their dominance. This behavior can be seen in both male and female dogs and is often accompanied by other territorial behaviors, such as growling or snapping.

To address territorial behavior, you may want to consider:

  • Establishing yourself as the pack leader through training and consistency
  • Avoiding situations that may trigger territorial behavior, such as taking away their toys or food
  • Seeking the help of a professional dog trainer or behaviorist

Remember, if your dog’s behavior is causing concern or disrupting their daily routine, it’s always best to seek the advice of a professional.

Environmental Factors

Dogs are creatures of habit and routine, and any changes to their surroundings can cause them to become anxious or stressed. Environmental factors can play a significant role in why dogs try to cover their food. Here are a few examples:

Changes in Surroundings

If you have recently moved to a new home or rearranged your furniture, your dog may feel like their territory has been invaded. This can cause them to become anxious and protective of their food. In these situations, dogs may try to cover their food to protect it from other pets or perceived threats.

Presence of Other Pets

If you have multiple pets in your household, your dog may try to cover their food to prevent other pets from eating it. This behavior is especially common in households with cats, who may try to steal dog food if they are not provided with their own food. Additionally, if you have recently introduced a new pet to your household, your dog may feel threatened and try to cover their food to prevent the new pet from taking it.

In conclusion, environmental factors can have a significant impact on why dogs try to cover their food. If you notice your dog exhibiting this behavior, try to identify any recent changes in their surroundings or the presence of other pets that may be causing them to feel anxious or stressed. By addressing these underlying issues, you can help your dog feel more comfortable and secure during mealtime.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why do dogs hide their food?

Dogs may hide their food as a survival instinct. In the wild, dogs would often bury their food to save it for later. This behavior is also seen in domesticated dogs, who may hide their food to prevent other animals or humans from taking it. Additionally, some dogs may hide their food out of anxiety or fear.

Why do dogs bury their bones?

Dogs may bury their bones as a way to save them for later. This behavior is a natural instinct that comes from their wild ancestors, who would bury their food to prevent other animals from stealing it. Additionally, burying bones can help keep them clean and free of bacteria.

Why do dogs bury their poop?

Dogs may bury their poop as a way to mark their territory and communicate with other dogs. Burying their poop can also help prevent the spread of disease and parasites. Additionally, some dogs may bury their poop out of a natural instinct to keep their living area clean.

Why do dogs hide treats?

Dogs may hide their treats as a way to save them for later. This behavior is a natural instinct that comes from their wild ancestors, who would hide their food to prevent other animals from stealing it. Additionally, hiding treats can be a fun game for dogs, and can help keep them mentally stimulated.

Why do dogs push their food out of their bowl?

Dogs may push their food out of their bowl if they are trying to bury it. This behavior is a natural instinct that comes from their wild ancestors, who would bury their food to save it for later. Additionally, some dogs may push their food out of their bowl if they do not like the taste or texture of the food.

Why do Huskies bury their food?

Huskies may bury their food as a way to save it for later. This behavior is a natural instinct that comes from their wild ancestors, who would bury their food to prevent other animals from stealing it. Additionally, burying their food can help keep it fresh and free of bacteria.