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The Food's Gone: Here's Why Dogs Hide Food

By Aviram K.
Published in Training & Behavior
November 20, 2022
4 min read
The Food's Gone: Here's Why Dogs Hide Food
✏️ This article has been reviewed in accordance with our editorial policy.
🏥 The information in this article is not a substitute for professional help.

It’s Friday evening. Another busy work week has come to an end!

You’ve opted to celebrate by having a few close friends over for dinner. As pasta boils on the stove, you begin moving through your house to tidy up.

Your dog prances up jollily to join you as you clean. As your pup looks on, you pick a random pillow off the floor only to discover something unexpected: a collection of your dog’s treats and bones hidden underneath!

Searching for answers, your eyes dart immediately to your pup. But they just smile and trot away.

What?!

You wonder: why is my dog hiding their food like this? Is this normal?

It is normal for dogs to hide their food. Dogs often instinctually hide food to keep it safe. Dogs may also hide their food because they are sick, fed too much, anxious, or practicing resource guarding. Thankfully, there are ways to help your dog stop hiding food.

In this article, I will reveal if it’s normal for dogs to hide their food. Then, I will explain why some dogs hide food and wrap things up by providing tips to help your dog stop hiding food.

A bone peaking out from under a chair…puppy treats mixed right in with your kid’s toys…each day is starting to feel like an Easter Egg hunt where your dog’s food can pop up anywhere!

If you’re tired of finding your pup’s little surprises stashed throughout your home, read on. I will explain this funny doggy behavior and how to stop it.

Here we go!

Table of Contents
01
Is It Normal for Dogs to Hide Food?
02
Why Some Dogs Hide Food
03
How to Stop Your Dog from Hiding Food
04
Your Dog’s Food: Lost and Found!

Is It Normal for Dogs to Hide Food?

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Your dog hiding their food can be a puzzling experience indeed. You’ve spent your hard-earned money on food and treats you think your pup will like. You’re just trying to nourish them properly.

So, it’s confusing when you see evidence that their food isn’t making its way into their mouth…but they’re hiding it instead!

As frustrating as this can be, it’s actually normal and instinctual for your pup to do this. A primal survival instinct called caching propels dogs to hide their food, burying it in the ground to save it to eat for later.

Even though your dog lives in your home and not in the wilderness, this is an instance where their wolf-pack roots shine through. Dogs in the wild used to hide and bury their food down in the cool of the earth to keep and preserve it.

Why Some Dogs Hide Food

Besides acting on their wolf-pack survival instincts, dogs may also hide their food for various reasons. Here are a few:

They’re Resource Guarding

A dog who has previously been in a shelter, abused, deprived, or had to fight for their food may be likely to hide their food.

This instinctive protectiveness over their food and other important things they need is called resource guarding. Your dog may feel deep down that they are in survival mode, and hiding their food may be a way they cope.

Your Pup Is Anxious

There are a lot of reasons anxiety may cause your dog to hide their food. Your pup may be shy and want to drag their food off to a low-traffic area to eat in solitude. They may also feel stressed out if another animal in the house keeps trying to eat their food before they can get to it.

You’re Overfeeding Them

If you’re feeding your dog a little more food than they need, they may be saving some for later. Your pup may eat till they are full and then instinctually try to hide the leftovers for another time…that little smartie!

They’re Sick

Although unlikely, if your dog is feeling sick to their stomach, they may hide their food to get it away from them. A nauseous dog may not like how their food smells or tastes and may try to bury their food to get it out of their presence.

Also, their food could be what’s triggering them to feel sick in the first place! Your pup may be trying to hide their food to signal to you that they really don’t like it at all!

How to Stop Your Dog from Hiding Food

It’s totally possible to help your dog to stop hiding their food. The best way to help your pup is to first try to figure out why they may be doing this in the first place.

If you suspect your pup is hiding their food because they are sick, a trip to the vet is the best place to start. Your vet can examine your dog and determine if it is hiding their food because they’re ill or if something in their food may be making them sick.

Your vet will also be able to diagnose and treat any underlying illnesses that may cause your dog to hide their food.

Since overfeeding may be a reason your pup hides their food, it can be helpful to modify your dog’s feeding schedule. Try monitoring your pup at mealtimes. When they have stopped eating and have become full, take any extra food away. This way they can’t hide their leftovers.

If your pup is anxious or resource guarding, these are two psychological reasons they may be hiding their food. It may help to go out of your way to ensure that your dog feels at ease around mealtime.

Here are a few ways to do this:

  • Try moving your dog’s food bowl around to see if there’s a place where they feel most comfortable eating
  • Eliminate competition for food by feeding them separately from other pushy dogs
  • Try feeding your dog adequate meals at regularly scheduled intervals, so they feel confident they will be fed
  • Experiment with different dog food formulas and dog bowls to see what works best
  • Try to keep your pup’s eating environment safe, calm, and clean at each feeding

Your Dog’s Food: Lost and Found!

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It’s simple, you just want to feed your dog.

Instead, you find yourself playing an unintentional game of hide-and-go-seek with your pup’s food!

Odd as it may be, this doggy behavior is totally normal! Your dog’s hard-wired survival instincts propel him to bury his food for safekeeping. Your dog may also hide their food if they’re sick, eating too much, anxious, or guarding their resources.

As a pup parent, your best bet to make the hiding stop is to truly tune into your dog and make sure they are healthy physically as well as comfortable mentally.

Ensuring your pup feels safe and confident they will be correctly and lovingly fed goes a long way towards stopping their food-hiding ways!


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