My dog likes to bury his toys in our bed and furniture. Can I teach him to not do this anymore?
Just like circling and digging at bedding before lying down, hiding prized possessions may be an ingrained ritual that comes naturally to some dogs. Your dog’s wild ancestors most likely buried food and other objects to keep predators from getting them, which may account for his desire to hide his toys in your sofa. While certain breeds with object-carrying and digging tendencies, like Dachshunds, may be more prone to this behavior, any dog can engage in these antics.
Your dog’s efforts to hide his toys may seem funny to you, especially if his hiding places are not all that hidden. My Pug, Bruce, had a habit of saving his favorite chews and hiding them in what he clearly thought were super secret locations — usually underneath the couch cushions or inside blankets or discarded sweatshirts. His diligent efforts to hide his treasures often seemed largely ineffective to my family: Despite frantic digging, scratching and pushing his valuables into the couch or bed, the end result was often that the item was just as visible as it was to begin with. But Bruce was undaunted and always seemed quite satisfied with his hard work — and quite confident no one would unearth his prize.
Curb the Burials
Some dogs will bury things that they are not interested in right now but might want later, while others hide prized possessions that they don’t want to share or lose. Regardless of his motivation, one solution is to offer your dog a chew or toy that he will be excited about playing with right now — a stuffed Kong, for example, or a tug toy that you can use to instigate a game.
You can also try limiting the number of toys available to your dog at any one time. This may help get him excited about playing with the toy he currently has in his possession, rather than hiding it. Routinely rounding up discarded toys and putting them away in a box or basket can help keep them exciting for your dog.
Another option is to redirect your dog away from your furniture when he wants to bury a treasure. Create an indoor digging pit for your pooch — a dog bed filled with blankets and pillows or a covered cat bed both work well. A designated burying area allows your dog to go through his digging routine and hide his treasures without inconveniencing you or endangering your furniture.
Encourage your dog to bury things in his designated area by placing the object near the furniture he currently likes to use as a hiding place (the sofa, or your bed). Teaching your dog to go to his space can also be useful in directing him to his designated digging area. The cue “go to your space” can also be used to redirect your dog if he tries to bury a toy or chew somewhere off-limits. Reward your dog with praise and favorite treats when he hides his things in the right place.
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