Why do dogs dig holes?

April 13, 2012

It can get annoying sometimes to wake up in the morning to go get the paper and see dozens of holes dug up by your dog the night before. It’s an interesting quirk why dogs will bury their bones and other bits of larger food. It’s not as if there are other predators around that will go looking for its bones, so why do it?

Many thousands of years ago before humans had even thought of the idea of domesticating the dog, Rover was part of a group of other dogs. Every day they would go out hunting for food and their ancestors for thousands of generations did the same. When the pack of dogs were to come across a particularly large prey and had finished eating what they could, sometimes there would be a great deal left over. Dogs being the ever pragmatic bunch, couldn’t just leave a kill for others to take, so having only their paws as tools, they dug out a hole in which to put the animal/remains.

In modern day it’s not necessary for dogs to continue this task anymore as there will never really be a shortage of food for them by their owners. Of course this does not apply to strays or those still living in the wild, but for just the domesticated ones. So why is it that dogs still keep doing it?

Going back once more to prehistoric times, it was rare that food lasted much longer than a week. It was either eaten up or went bad, but in modern times there are foods that are made to last nearly forever. Modern dog food is much like this and their chewy bones and toys. As most know dogs aren’t the best handymen and do not have enough knowledge to construct their own garage or containment facility, so the next best thing is a hole. If a dog has toys, food, or chewed up homework, it might just want to store it in a easy to access hole (or holes) in the backyard. This stops other animals such as neighboring dogs from clearly seeing the toys and deciding to steal them and maybe animals like raccoons from easily seeing potential sources of food. Whether this stops animals from finding it or still stealing the dog’s belongings remains to be seen.

So the next time you see your dog tearing up your new garden, he’s not destroying, he’s constructing.

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