It’s one thing when your dog dashes off with his treat, disappears under a table, and gnaws on it for hours. It’s a little annoying (a thank you would be nice!), but it’s not impossible to deal with. You’re at your wit’s end, and who can blame you? But you know that to solve problems, you must first understand them. So, you ask: why does my dog hide treats?
Dogs hide treats because to keep them secure and protected from others. Hiding treats is a deeply ingrained instinct in traditional pack animals and is a way to protect their food source from real or imagined threats.
In this article, we will fully explore why dogs hide treats and what you can do to prevent the behavior so that you can protect your furniture/yard/sanity.
Reasons Why Your Dog Hides Treats
Hiding treats is not the worst behavior a dog can have. It’s quite normal for dogs to do this because it’s an inherited trait. Still, it can be confusing to many first time dog owners. Below are a few additional reasons your dog may be hiding their treats.
In the days of yore, dogs hunted in large groups and fought over everything they managed to kill. While group-hunting makes it easier to bring down large prey, it also means that there are more hungry mouths.
Therefore, dogs had to develop a way to protect their food: putting their food six feet under and waiting. Once the coast was clear, the wolf would dig up the treat and enjoy it in peace.
The dogs who were smart enough to hide their food ate more often and therefore survived at a higher rate than the dogs who didn’t hide their food.
Over thousands of years of evolution, your dog has held onto that protective instinct and buries his most prized possession (the treat) for later retrieval. Try not to get too upset–it means that your dog was one of the survivors from long ago!
Your Dog Is Protecting The Treats
To a dog, the safest place in the world is undoubtedly between your couch cushions or snuggled somewhere deep in the folds of his dog bed, and the essential thing in the world is undoubtedly the treat that you’ve just given him.
To protect his beloved treat, he hides it away from hungry eyes. Later, when he feels safer, he’ll dig it up and gobble it down. If you have other pets or play tug-of-war with your treats, he may feel the need to hide away his treats so he can more effectively guard them.
He Isn’t Hungry And Is Saving It For Later
Sometimes, when you give your dog a treat, he’s not hungry. When you’re stuffed from a recent meal, are you looking forward to dessert? Well, maybe.
But humans are built differently than dogs! Dogs will often hide the treat in a safe place so they can wait out their fullness. Once their stomach starts growling once more, they’ll rush to their hiding spot and dig up their treat.
This is an easy behavioral issue to address: feed your dog fewer treats and only give them to him when he’s hungry! It’s a great idea to give your dog treats after long walks or in between meals.
Your Dog IsAnxious
Some dogs are born nervous. When you hand them a biscuit, their first thought is: oh no! What if this gets taken from me? Dogs with anxiety will display other behaviors, such as destruction of property or excessive drooling, barking, or panting.
It is essential to address a dog’s anxiety since it causes him significant mental distress, which can be taken out on your furniture.
After receiving a treat, an anxious dog will run away somewhere safe and hide his treat. This can be exacerbated in a loud or otherwise busy household.
If you have other pets, especially other aggressive pets, your dog may be feeling nervous and overprotective. If you have other pets, feed your dog in a room away from your other pets, where there’s no place to hide a treat. If the anxiety seems severe, bring your dog to a vet, who will be able to prescribe him medication.
One look outside will tell you that dog owners have a tendency to overfeed their canine companions: basset hounds waddle, golden retrievers roll, and pugs jiggle on their walks. Many subscribe to the belief that more is better than less.
Because of this problem, many dogs will hide their treats instead of eating them right away. Once they’re no longer stuffed, they’ll dig up their treats and chow down.
Ensure that you’re not overfeeding your dog (talk to your veterinarian about the proper diet for your pup!). While a chubby puppy is cute, an overweight dog is more likely to encounter various health problems.
Is it Normal For Dogs to Hide Treats
Yes, it is normal for dogs to hide treats.
When dogs were no more than wolves gallivanting in the woods, they had a particular set of behaviors they followed to survive. As pack animals, wolves worked together to bring down large prey that they would then have to share.
Often, a wolf would be bullied out of his fair share by other animals or fellow packmates. To guard their share, wolves hid their food underground, where it was naturally preserved at cool temperatures, so it was easier to protect. When he felt safe, he’d dig up the food and eat it.
Hiding behavior is not typically a cause for concern. It can be considered a sign of anxiety in the most pessimistic light, but this will be accompanied by other apparent symptoms, such as peeing or pooping in the house, destroying household objects, and excessive barking, drooling or panting.
If you believe your dog has anxiety, take them to the vet to receive proper medication.
Why Does My Dog Hide Treats And Not Eat Them
Your dog hides treats out of instinct, often to protect them. It’s likely that your dog eventually does eat his treats; you don’t notice when he does.
This might be because your dog feels like you’re competing for his treats. When you’re around, he has to hide his treats and wait until you’re gone. Do you play tug-of-war with your dog’s treats? This may make him feel overprotective of the food when he finally wrests it away from you.
Dogs also may hide their treats from other household pets. Do you have another dog? A cat? A bird? Anything that is cage-free could be highlighting protective instincts in your dog. If you catch a pet bullying your dog after you gave him a treat, make sure to separate the two animals and allow your dog to finish his treat in peace.
It is a good idea to give your dog a safe place to eat his treats if you believe his hiding behavior is a sign of anxiety or overprotectiveness.
Lead your dog to a place where you feel comfortable leaving him alone for a bit (and try to avoid rooms with lots of hiding places!), and give him his treats there. Allow him enough time to finish his treats and a way to exit the room when he’s done (in other words, don’t fully close the door).
Dogs may also hide their treats because they’re not hungry. At the moment, they don’t want the treat, but they’re intelligent enough to know they’ll want it later. Usually, a dog isn’t treat-hungry for two reasons: you’re feeding him treats at the wrong time, and you’re feeding him too much.
Some dogs, when full, will hide food instead of stuffing even more down their gullet, including treats. If you feed your dog a treat closely after a meal, you’re feeding him at the wrong time.
Try giving him a treat before a meal or between meals instead. This way, your dog will get treats just as he’s starting to get very hungry. Instead of hiding his treat, he’ll gobble it right down!
Many owners often err on the side of too much rather than not enough, or even just right. The result? Overweight, flabby dogs.
These dogs are rarely hungry and so will hide their treats for that moment when hunger strikes. While overweight dogs are delightfully squishy, it is essential to realize that significant health issues come with the extra pounds. Talk to your veterinarian about the proper diet for your dog.
How Do I Stop My Dog From Hiding Food
You can stop your dog from hiding food by adjusting your behavior. It is far easier to change yourself than your dog, so start with that.
First off, give your dog fewer treats. He’ll be less likely to bury them if he has fewer. Secondly, give treats at the proper times when your dog is well and truly hungry.
Think: before meals, after long walks, between meals, etc. If your dog is overweight, he will often hide treats because he’s rarely hungry, so it’s essential to slim him down if you want to curb the behavior. Also, overweight dogs often suffer from health problems that dogs at a healthy weight would not encounter.
Thirdly, you can create a calmer environment for your dog to enjoy the treat in. Find a quiet place where no other pets or humans walkthrough, and give your dog treats there. If it’s an anxiety-related issue, this should help calm down your dog enough to enjoy his treat in peace.
When you discover your dog hiding treats, don’t run or chase after him–he might think it’s a game, and you don’t want to reinforce the behavior. Instead, say, “No!” firmly, but without yelling.
When training your dog, keep in mind that you should never hit your dog. Such negative behavior not only harms your dog; it’s rarely effective as a teaching tool. All it will do is teach your dog to be afraid of you. You’re better off sticking to patience, gentle words, and diversion.
If your dog’s behavior persists, then it may be time to contact a professional trainer. They are far more equipped to teach your dog proper behavior effectively. Trainers typically charge a fee, but it is worth the investment if the behavior truly bothers you (or your yard!).
Dogs hide treats as a result of instincts developed over thousands of years of evolution. Put simply; it’s an attempt to safeguard the treat, which they see as highly valuable, from the competition, such as you or your other pets.
Many dogs hide their treats, so it’s not necessarily a reason for concern unless your dog displays other behaviors, such as destruction of property, urinating or defecating in the house, or excessive drooling, barking, or panting, which may be a sign of anxiety.
While anxiety manifesting as treat-hiding is annoying, it’s essential to take your dog to a vet to prevent more mentally painful symptoms. With medication or something of the like, your dog will be much happier.
You should also carefully consider how much your dog weighs–does he seem a little chubby? Does the vet hint that it might be time for him to slim down? Maintaining a healthy body weight is key to any creature’s health, especially a dog’s.
Often, the hiding behavior can be curbed by the owner changing their behavior rather than changing the dogs. Give your dog treats only when he’s hungry (in between meals, right before a meal, after a walk, etc.) and limit the amount you give.
Make sure your dog has a safe place to enjoy his treat, away from what could be perceived as threats, especially if he’s a naturally anxious dog. If your dog is still hiding his treats, contact a professional trainer to help you understand and address the issue’s root. They are trained professionals and will know what to do!