dog next to snow shove

Why Does My Dog Bury Her Toys

Have you ever discovered your dog's toy buried in your yard, couch cushions, laundry basket, or bed? If so, you've probably wondered why they express such behaviors. As annoying as it can be for dogs to conceal their precious toys all over the place, it stems from an ancient instinct. Your furry friend is displaying that they value their toy and are trying to protect it- just like their wild ancestors do with their captured prey. Wolves and wild dogs bury and hide food to come back to it in the future without the food spoiling or another animal taking it. Burying is normal, natural behavior and tends to be more common in houses with multiple animals because dogs may be protecting their toys from furry siblings. 

Related: Are Your Dog Toys Covered in Dog Slobber? Here's How to Wash Dog Toys

Natural Instincts Are Powerful

Animals are born with instinctive behaviors that are not learned. Some instinctive behaviors are as simple as scratching an itch, and others are more complicated. For example, how does a newborn baby know how to find and nurse from the breast? Like all creatures, dogs are born with their own set of natural instincts guiding their everyday behaviors. These instincts are rooted in untold numbers of generations of their forefathers who eventually were bred into dogs. These canine ancestors roamed the wilderness and had to hunt for their food. When they captured prey, other animals would smell it and fight for food. Due to competition, dogs tend to bury the remains of their food to hide it from other dogs. 

Today, house dogs no longer need to hunt for food but still carry a strong survival instinct pushing them to hide anything valuable to them in a safe place. Soil not only keeps food from spoiling in the sun but also conceals the scent from scavengers, so dogs are driven biologically to hide special treats and toys by burying them. If they're indoors, they may try to hide their favorite treat or dog toy under cushions or blankets to come back to it later. If your dog obsessively hides and buries toys, it could be a problem. Below we list some reasons your dog may constantly be burying and hiding their toys and how to handle the behavior. 

Related: 20 Best Dog Toys for Small and Large Dogs

Why Your Dog Obsessively Buries Toys

Too Many Toys

This may seem counterintuitive to our human brains, but this is a significant reason that dogs tend to bury their toys. Human brains would think that when we have more resources- such as toys- we don't need to protect them as much. However, dogs are driven by instincts and don't rationalize that way. When they have more toys, dogs feel that they need to be more alert to guard their expanding stash. As a result, they could become overwhelmed, which leads to the compulsive burying. Like their human counterparts, dogs tend to fixate on things, and if there are too many toys lying around, they may become overstimulated and obsessed. 

You don't have to throw out all your dog's toys and bones but think about moving them to somewhere in the house not immediately in their range of vision or access- even just a shelf out of their reach- so that they aren't constantly trying to "guard" their toys. Just keep a couple of toys out at a time. 

Dogs Dealing With Anxiety And Possessiveness

Dogs also bury their best dog toys and treats because they deal with anxiety. Pet anxiety especially plagues dogs adopted from pet rescue agencies because they may be dealing with past traumas. If your dog tries to bury or hide everything you give them, they may be struggling with past trauma and aren't feeling safe and secure in their new home. This behavior should alleviate as the dog spends more time with her new "pack" in her new space with her new space and starts to feel more secure. It's also common for dogs who reside in homes with multiple dogs to bury their favorite implements to keep them away from other dogs. 


Dogs, like humans, can get bored without sufficient activity to occupy their brains. If you're staying home more due to the pandemic, or because you're working from home, it's possible that obsessive and constant burying is a way to release pent-up energy. Ensure that your dog is getting regular exercise through walks, hikes, or runs, and if you have a nearby park or yard, try to play with them as much as possible. 

 dog digging under fence

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How NOT To Curb Burying

Reactions of anger like yelling or throwing toys around will not stop your dog from burying things since burying is an instinct for them, and they don't know why they're in trouble. However, if your dog keeps taking things that don't belong to them, like your remote control or keys, they probably need some attention! They know you will look for whatever they took, so chasing them down will end up encouraging the burying behavior. So when you're training your dog not to take your belongings, you should keep them out of reach- try having a basket for phones or a designated hook for keys that is above their level to prevent the cycle of hiding and chasing. 

How To Curb Burying

Positive reinforcement is the best way to stop your dog from trying to hide everything. So when your dog brings back their toy from its hiding place, give them praise and play with them for a couple of minutes so that they learn to expect positive results from bringing things back!

Designate an area for toys currently in rotation for the dog to see and access independently. When you discover a hidden toy, put it back into the toy area and show your pup. They will eventually learn this is where their toys are safe. If you have a multi-dog household where they take and hide toys from each other, try training them together with treats. If they don't move to take a toy from the other dog, reward them with a treat or an even better toy. 

Related: Dog Not Playing With Toys? Here's How to Get a Dog to Play With Toys

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A Safe Toy That Keeps Your Dog Occupied

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