Having a family dog, or in my case, two (Duke and Bella), is truly a blessing. There’s something special about the happiness, laughter, and love they bring into our lives.
Even chores can be fun with my two goofballs around. Last winter, on a frosty day we awoke to yet another morning of shoveling (last winter was crazy around here!). There was so much white stuff the whole family had to pitch in.
Duke, ever the helper, decided to join in the ‘fun’. His version of helping, however, involved frantically attacking our shovels and leaping into the piles of snow we had just moved. The kids were loving it, laughing at his antics, while Bella, the more composed of our two pooches, watched from a distance with what seemed like a doggy grin.
Those two managed to turn back-breaking work into a morning full of laughter and unforgettable memories, despite the chilly weather.
Being a good dog owner isn’t all about laughing and playing though, it also means understanding your dog’s behaviors. Knowing when your dog is just being his playful self and when something might be amiss is a big part of the job.
So, what about dogs that like to hide their treats? Why does my dog hide his treats? The quick and easy answer is that your dog is hiding his treats due to instincts, an irregular feeding schedule, stress, being overfed, health problems, or training.
Let’s take a deeper dive into these causes and then explore some solutions that will help you get your dog to quit his treating-hiding ways.
Even though they’ve been domesticated for thousands of years, many of our dogs’ behaviors are still driven by instinct.
Saving It For Later
Your dog’s ancestors had to hunt for their food, and they never knew when they would get their next meal. This instinct to help survive food insecurity has been passed down through generations, and your dog might still feel the need to save some food for later, just in case.
Keep It From Other Dogs
Another instinctual behavior of dogs is to protect their belongings. Your dog may hide treats to ensure that other dogs, or even humans, won’t take them away.
By hiding treats, your good boy is keeping them safe for himself.
Some Dogs Have An Instinct To Bury Things
Burying items is also a natural instinct for some dogs. Certain breeds have an even stronger desire to dig and may bury treats more frequently.
This behavior is perfectly normal and part of their genetic makeup.
Uncertain Feeding Schedule
Dogs thrive on routines, especially when it comes to mealtime. If they don’t have a consistent feeding schedule, they might worry about when they’ll eat again.
So, they’ll stash treats to ensure they have an emergency snack in case you forget to feed them at a reasonable time.
This can be related to the previous points about instinct and a feeding schedule.
If your dog is stressed because of uncertainty or due to conflicts with other pets in the house or other environmental factors, then he might feel the need to hide his treats to ensure he has something to eat when he isn’t being bothered.
You’re Feeding Your Dog Too Much
Your dog may be hiding treats because he’s already full. Providing too much food or an excessive number of treats can lead to overeating and/or hiding extras for later.
Make sure you aren’t feeding your dog more than he should have, not only will he probably have unhealthy weight gain, but he may also start hiding food and treats.
If you’re sure your dog isn’t being overfed and isn’t acting on instinct, or reacting to stress, he may have a health issue causing a poor appetite or his weird treat-hiding behavior.
In this case, you may want to consult with your veterinarian to identify and address any medical problem.
You Trained Your Dog To Do It
This is an unlikely scenario, but…I’ve seen weirder things in my time working with dogs. It’s possible that you or a previous owner may have trained your pup to bury his treats.
If you’ve praised your dog when he was digging holes or hiding his toys, he may have interpreted that as you wanting him to bury and hide everything, including his treats.
Should I Let My Dog Hide His Treats?
Remember hiding treats is seldom a sign of disobedience so don’t be angry with your good boy. But, even if your dog isn’t acting up, that doesn’t mean it’s something you want to encourage.
Letting your dog hide his treats can potentially attract ants, rodents, or even bigger problems depending on where you live.
Until you can train your dog not to hide his treats in your home and yard, it’s a good idea to retrieve any hidden treats your dog has stashed away.
Thankfully, there are effective ways to discourage your dog from hiding his treats in the first place.
Check out these practical methods that can help you teach your dog that you don’t want him to hide his treats anymore.
How Do I Get My Dog To Stop Hiding Treats?
These strategies will not only help you get your dog to stop hiding treats but hopefully, you’ll also learn ways to better train your dog for situations as well.
Address The Root Cause Of Your Dog’s Treat-Hiding Behavior
To effectively help your dog stop hiding treats, it’s important to first identify and address the underlying issue causing the behavior. By resolving the root cause, the treat-hiding may stop altogether.
If not, your dog will be more receptive since the cause has been removed and only the symptom remains.
Avoid Overfeeding Your Dog
As I said above, one possible reason for your dog to hide treats is overfeeding.
So, making sure you’re giving your pooch appropriate portions and a balanced diet is important.
This can help reduce his urge to stash away treats for later because there won’t be any excess treats to stash!
Establish A Consistent Feeding Schedule
A regular feeding schedule is important for your dog’s overall well-being, and it can decrease his treat-hiding behavior.
Consistency will provide him with a sense of food security and predictability, making him less likely to worry about future meals.
Remove Leftover Food And Treats After Mealtime
Make it a habit to clear away any excess food and treats once your dog has finished eating. This will discourage him from hiding any uneaten goodies since they won’t be available to him except at mealtime.
This is especially important if you give your pooch things that take a while to eat, like bones.
Wrapping It Up: Why Do Dogs Hide Treats?
As we’ve seen, there are various reasons why your lovable canine companion may be hiding his treats. These reasons range from natural instincts, stress, and feeding routines, to overfeeding, health issues, and accidental training.
While it might seem like harmless behavior, allowing your dog to continue hiding treats could attract pests. So, you shouldn’t let your dog hide his treats.
To get your dog to stop hiding treats, first, identify the underlying cause and then take the appropriate steps to train your dog to not hide treats.
Whether that means keeping your dog on a better feeding schedule or disposing of excess food and treats, making these adjustments can help create a healthier and happier environment for you and your faithful friend.
When you see your dog looking for the perfect spot to bury his tasty treasures, don’t be too quick to jump to conclusions about his motives. Instead, invest time and energy into understanding his needs and promoting good habits.