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Thread: Why do dogs hide things?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2003
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    Why do dogs hide things?

    I'm sure this has been brought up before...in fact I think I may have posted a thread on it a few years ago but I can't find it? Anyway, last night, I was doing some work on the computer and Collin, who was sick, was lounging on the couch. Duncan was lying down next to me on his blanket. He looked bored and since it was already 9pm, dark and pouring rain, I couldn't take him to the park down the road. (He had already been once!) So I thought, well, I'll give him a pig's ear to chew on thinking that would cheer him up a little So I gave it to him and he took it happily. But a few minutes go by and I notice he is walking all around the house with it in his mouth, back and forth, back and forth. And then he started whining . I started to feel terrible, I gave it to him to enjoy but it seemed to be causing him all sorts of stress!!! I tried to get him to lie down with me again and chew it but he wanted no part of that....he walked around and around looking for a hiding spot, checking the couches, the corners of all the rooms...he jumped up next to me and tried burying it under my afghan but changed his mind. Then he jumped on the couch with Collin and tried burying it under the pillows. That was no good either. He finally hid it in the bathroom of all places in plain sight, next to the scale!! Then he relaxed and laid back down quietly!! I don't understand his motivation.....why hide it? I felt terrible that I stressed him out when I was just trying to make him happy!! Does anyone know or have a theory on why dogs do this? I know some dogs that never hide anything and then there is Duncan who hides everything! I used to think it was because he was a stray and never wanted to run out of food again but...a pig ear isn't really food and he doesn't hide food. Thank God, or my house would stink!

  2. #2
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    Hannah loves to hide certain things as well. I wouldn't consider Duncan's trying to find the very best spot as *stressfull* for him. It's the one time when you can almost see them thinking, and I just love to watch it. Actually I think it is good mental stimulation and then when they want to go to retrieve the hiden item, they have to remember where they put it. God forbide there is a closed door between them and where they need to go because then you will hear about it. (*Woof, woof, I've got to get to the basement right now.) Hannah can come up with some good places to hide things but occasionally she will defeat her purpose because she will sit and guard the hidden object, completely giving away where it is at.

    I recently went to look at a house which was for sale by owner. The house was absolutely immaculate, but I knew they had a dog because I saw a hidden dog bone in a storage space in the basement. heehee
    *Until one has loved an animal, a part of ones soul remains unawakened.* Anatole France

  3. #3
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    Thank you Jennifert9 and Hannah. Ginger does that all the time. And like you jennifer I was worried because of the whinnning that goes along with the wandering around. After two years I have gotten used to it and at least it doesn't always make me feel bad anymore (although sometimes I do get irritated because sometimes she will just stand in front of me with the chew-chew in her mouth and whines, and I try to help her find a place to "bury" it). But anyway, Hannah, you have given me another way of thinking about it. When she is actually looking for somewhere to hide it, at least it is some sort of mental stimulation for her. I can live with that. ( And maybe I will just think of the whining as humming )

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
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    Arkansas United states
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    save it for later???

    i used find things everywhere...deeply hidden, but i never actually saw him doing it... then one day i caught MAXIMUS looking around with a snack in his mouth...he usually ate them right away...but this time i saw him...he was shoving it in the corner of the couch, way under the cushion...then he saw me...he looked to be irritated as he dug it back out..."ugh! she saw me"...so i went back to what i was doing, pretending not to see him...he put it behind the chair and covered it with his blanket...later, he was standing by his snack cabinet asking for another snack...i told him no he just had one...so he goes and gets one from the back room, behind the tv...he's a sneaky lil thing...but why does he hide them from me?


















    ~Huh? Go to the lake?~

  5. #5
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    This is a great natural behaviour and perfectly normal. It shows us exactly how valued food items (and toys) are and how important ownership of such items are to our dogs. We ignore these very strong messages at our peril!
    Dogs are domesticated wolves and are driven by the same instincts, needs and social boundaries. Food items that lower members of the pack are allowed are the ones that the alpha animals do not want or need, this in itself shows the dog that the pack is working well and the leaders are strong enough to provide for the pack. Happy dog. Problems can arise when the leaders start to mess around with this very simple concept - if you give me food, it is mine, you have no right to change your mind or ask for it back, by giving me food you are telling me that there is more than enough to satisfy you and also to feed me.
    Some dogs retain the instinct to cache what food they are allowed that is not critical to their survival - in wolves this serves the life saving purpose of ensuring a food supply for an individual when hunting success is low or there are changes in pack structure. For the early domestic dog it was a useful trait to retain as the flow of scraps and leftovers from the master's table was not a reliable one.
    It is simply a instinctual behaviour that is fascinating to watch and tells a lot about the way the dog has evolved.

  6. #6
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    Carrie!! How lovely to hear from you! I knew you would know the answer, just didn't know if you were around! I'm honored that you had the time to respond to my post!
    And once again, thanks for sharing your vast knowledge...

  7. #7
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    totally honoured to be here!

  8. #8
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    Fenway hides his snacks all of the time. I'll be doing laundry and I'll come across a snack hidden in the clothes. Or I'll grab a blanket and a snack will fall out of it. When Fenway goes to my sisters and she gives him a snack, he'll go outside and hide it. The only problem is, her Lab Benson will follow him and dig it back up and then eat it. It's funny to watch. It's also funny to watch him hide things because he moves clothes, or blankets, or dirt with his nose. Sometimes he just "moves" plain air - there's nothing there to cover his snack but he pushes with his nose as if to cover it, but it never gets covered.



  9. #9
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    May 2003
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    LOL, Duncan does the nose thing too...like he's trying to cover up the treat but he's not..? Than he'll walk away from it and come back and look at it from all different angles to make sure it's hidden I guess. But sometimes it's not, it's in plain sight but he'll be satisfied... I have no idea what goes through their heads!

    My childhood dog Bandit used to take his bones and hide them in the middle of the living room rug, he would spend 15 minutes pushing the carpet with his nose and there it would be, in plain sight...He would sit back and admire his work. If you "found" it, he would look so disappointed and start all over again somewhere else. He would even "check" his work by sitting next to the bone and barking at us to see if we could find it....he wouldn't stop until we did so we would pretend it took us a long time to find it hidden there in plain sight in the middle of the room!!

  10. #10
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    My childhood dog Bandit used to take his bones and hide them in the middle of the living room rug, he would spend 15 minutes pushing the carpet with his nose and there it would be, in plain sight...He would sit back and admire his work. If you "found" it, he would look so disappointed and start all over again somewhere else. He would even "check" his work by sitting next to the bone and barking at us to see if we could find it....he wouldn't stop until we did so we would pretend it took us a long time to find it hidden there in plain sight in the middle of the room

    That is sooooooooooooooooooooooo funny! Dogs are a riot!

  11. #11
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    Lefty doesn't often hide things (though he sometimes does); however, he often won't immediately eat the treat I give him before I leave for work in the morning. He waits to eat it until I get back home. I wondered what he was doing until it occured to me that perhaps he was simply hoarding it, just in case I never came back.
    SMB ^^
    Bats--you need them more than you know!

  12. #12
    Freddy always hides her stuffed animals under the tread mill. I want to use the tread mill but there is so much stuff under it I cant. Its also not safe to use when she is out because she likes to hide under it. Silly ferret.
    Short ones, tall ones, skinny ones, bigger, love is the gun and we pullin' that trigger.
    So put your hand in the hand of mine
    And we'll spread this love like dandelions<:3)~
    -- Toby Mac
    Kittys: Sandy, Meemee.
    Ferret: Freddy

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