Some people actually have normal dogs. Then, there are the rest of us who have strange and unexplainable pets masquerading as dogs. More often than not, their antics can only be described as three fries short of happy meal. For example, the habit of digging to bury his toys… his treats, TV remote, jewelry, your child’s toy, etc. They’re found under a pile of dirt in the yard, inside the couch, under laundry, the flower garden, and in the neighbor’s prized Hydrangea bushes. It can almost be tolerable until they swipe the stick of butter from the kitchen counter and bury it inside your pillowcase. That’s when I drew the line.
As with other primal canine characteristics, this tendency can be linked back to a dog’s wild ancestors. Long before dogs were domesticated, these scavengers had to fend for themselves if they wanted to survive. Dogs would bury food and other treasured items – like tasty bones – to hide and protect their stash from predators. This innate behavior has remained intact throughout the years.
Additionally, there are a few specific breeds that are prone to digging like the Terrier group, including the Jack Russell Terrier, Cairn Terrier, Fox Terrier, Airedale Terrier. The Norwegian Lundehund, Siberian Husky, Alaskan Malamute, Dachshund, Petit Basset Griffon Vendéen, and the Lagotto Romagnolo are also notorious for being a four legged backyard backhoe.
Items are not limited to food, but to other cherished items like their toys, shiny objects, and their owner’s possessions. Which explains those missing earrings your husband bought you last Christmas that you’ve been looking for. Interestingly enough, the act of digging isn’t as concealed as one may think. In fact, items they “bury” are not always concealed at all. They’re hidden in plain sight.
While your dog’s habits to bury their toys or other items might tickle your funny bone, it’s serious business to your dog – sometimes upsetting them if those items are moved. Yes, their ability to remember where all those buried treasures are located is remarkable. Take for example my sister’s German Shepherd, Amber. This dog’s ability to remember where she buried her toys – and treats – is nothing short of legendary.
One day my sister Cathy decided to put Amber’s memory to the test by replacing each item with another that Amber had buried when Amber wasn’t paying attention. When Amber made her rounds to check up on her treasures, she became visibly distraught and frantically paced from burial spot to burial spot – sniffing and closely inspecting each item. While Cathy chuckled with amusement, Amber was inexplicably disgusted with the entire situation.
Redirecting a basic instinct of a dog requires a little ingenuity and training. Rather than having limitless toys to bury, restrict them to a handful and confine them into a designated toy box that can recognize as hisspace. Additionally, provide him with a dedicated digging area with blankets and such that he can bury items in. With continual practice and positive reinforcement, your pooch will begin to improve.