If you love giving your dog treats, you may wonder why he hides them. It’s certainly an odd one, isn’t it? Do all dogs do this; is it normal behaviour, and can you stop them from doing so? If so, how; what should you do? Here are the answers to all of these questions and more.
So, why does my dog hide his treats? Dogs may hide their treats out of instinct to save food for later, because of anxiety, or simply because they’ve eaten too much.
As you can see, there could be one or several things going on here.
So it’s important we delve deeper into each potential reason.
Then we will get onto how you should respond, as I have previously alluded to up above.
Reasons Why A Dog May Hide His Treats
A dog may hide his treats because he is driven by instinct to save extra food for a later time. Other times your dog could be suffering from anxiety. Many times dogs will hide treats if they’re full. And some dogs lose their appetite or feel nauseous.
Your dog’s wild ancestors, such as coyotes and wolves, hunt in packs.
These animals are accustomed to a feast-and-famine existence, where they don’t always know where they’ll get their next meal.
Wild dogs will, therefore, hoard or hide any leftover food for a later meal.
The cool earth acts as a refrigerator of sorts, and animals know their food will keep better there.
These instincts for self-preservation are also present in domesticated dogs.
Some dogs can start hiding treats and food because of negative past experiences.
If a dog has had to compete for resources from an early age, he will tend to learn that it’s best to hide any extra food he receives.
Sometimes dogs have had to contend with other animals stealing their food, so they have learned that the best way to ensure their treats stay safe is to hide them.
Eating Too Much
It might be that your dog has eaten too much, and he is simply hiding his treats because he doesn’t have room to eat them now.
It can be easy to overfeed an eager dog, and one sign of overfeeding is hiding treats.
You wouldn’t want your dog to get too much food, as this can lead to obesity, so it’s worth looking at your dog’s portions to make sure he’s eating the right amount for his size and age.
Nausea or Loss of Appetite
Sometimes dogs who have nausea will bury their treats.
If your dog hasn’t been doing this before but suddenly starts hiding treats (and food), it may be time for a vet checkup.
Dogs who are picky eaters or who are getting used to a new diet can also engage in this behavior.
Is It Normal For Dogs To Hide Treats?
It’s normal for some dogs to hide treats, given that they would do this in the wild to save food for later. As long as you know your dog is in good health – he isn’t eating too much, and he isn’t suffering from anxiety – there’s usually no cause for concern.
Breeds Most Likely To Hide Treats
Some dog breeds are going to be more likely than others to hide treats because they are dogs who love digging and burying resources.
Hunting and scent dogs come under these types of breeds, and there are many. Some examples are:
- Basset Hounds
- English Springer Spaniels
- English Pointers
- American Foxhounds
Other dogs are notorious food scavengers who love hoarding and burying treats, such as terriers.
If you discover his hiding place, he is likely to dig up his goodies and find a new hiding spot.
For some dogs, this becomes a rather long game of hide and seek with their owners!
Digging treats for you to find can be a very effective way to get your attention, so clever dogs may capitalize on this.
Where Dogs Hide Treats
Dogs can hide treats in very unusual places, such as:
- In beds or under blankets
- In the dirty laundry basket
- Under carpets
- Down the back of cushions or other furnishings
Can You Stop Your Dog From Hiding Their Treats?
You can try and stop your dog from hiding his treats if it really bothers you. There are times when you don’t need to worry about it, and other times when you will want to stop this behavior if possible.
You can stop your dog from hiding his treats to some extent, but be prepared to arm yourself with patience. Some dogs will find it easier to stop than others.
Most vets would say that you can stop your dog from hiding treats, but if you are attempting to stop him from doing something that he needs to do, you risk making him anxious.
When You May Want To Let Him Be
If you think your dog is hiding his treats out of stress or anxiety, you will want to address the stress or anxiety first.
Once your dog is no longer anxious, you’ll be able to stop him from hiding his treats more easily.
If your dog is looking for a place to eat his treats in peace, be sure to provide him with a calm space that he can call his own.
If he is always having to compete with other animals for space, he will have more of a tendency to hide his treats.
Provide him with a safe spot first and then see if the behavior resolves itself on its own.
Otherwise, you can start training to rectify it (see below).
When You Will Want To Stop Your Dog’s Behavior
Sometimes you’ll know that you need to stop his behavior if it’s a sign of unhappiness, such as:
- You notice your dog is nervous when he gets treats. Providing a crate or another closed-off space for your dog to eat treats in peace may be all he needs to stop hiding them
- You see your dog is sensitive to noise. It could be the area where he gets his treats is too noisy and he’s simply looking for a quieter place. Most dogs are highly sensitive to rather loud noises like thunderstorms and fireworks, but some dogs are even sensitive to less-intrusive noises like vacuum cleaners and small children
- You spot your dog becoming aggressive over his treats. If your dog starts snapping or growling around other animals when he is given his treats, you’ll need to curb his aggressive behavior before it becomes a problem. Keep your dog separate from other pets while you train him out of these undesirable behaviors. Once the aggression is dealt with, you can then train him to not hide his treats
- Your dog tends to hide treats that spoil. If your dog is hiding bits of fresh meat or other treats that can spoil, you’ll want to put a stop to this behavior. Bacteria build up rather quickly on fresh meat and your dog could become seriously ill.
Other Things To Consider
You may also want to consider a few more things before trying to minimize your dog’s hiding habits:
- Has your dog always hidden treats? If not, what else happened around the time he first started doing it? Has he started eating more food? Has a new family member arrived? Have you moved or changed your work patterns? Perhaps your dog is becoming anxious over recent changes. Or perhaps he’s feeling ill.
- When does your dog hide treats? Is it always at the same time of day? What else is happening around him when he hides his treats? Is there always another animal around? If so, he may be trying to hide his treats from that animal.
- Does he always hide the same type of treats? You might be able to easily fix the problem by giving him a different type of treat (e.g., a dog-appropriate bone instead of pieces of meat).
What To Do About Your Dog Hiding Their Treats
If your dog insists on hiding his treats, there are simple things you can do to train him out of this behavior. There are also a few things to avoid doing.
How to Minimize Your Dog Hiding His Treats
Here are some ways you can try and minimize the number of times your dog hides his treats:
- Establish a feeding routine for your dog that you follow to the letter. If your dog tends to eat a few bites and then hoard the rest of his treats, give him smaller amounts throughout the day. Stick to treats as rewards that happen at predictable times, e.g., coming in from a walk.
- Make sure you aren’t feeding your dog too much. At mealtimes, remove his food bowl as soon as he’s had his fill, and wait before giving him treats until you know he’s hungry.
- Instead of edible treats, you could try giving your dog a squeaky toy. As it’s not edible, he may be less inclined to want to hide it. The other benefit of a squeaky toy is you can usually hear where he’s taken it to!
- Offer different types of treats. A surplus is what causes many dogs to hide treats, so consider rotating the types of treats (food, toys), and offer them in small amounts.
- Spend quality time with your dog every day to make sure he’s mentally and physically stimulated. A happy dog is less likely to feel the need to hide treats – unless he’s doing this as a game to play with you.
- Teach your dog tricks. Teaching your dog tricks is a great way to enhance your bond while giving your dog needed stimulation. Try going on morning jogs, playing tug-of-war or fetch games, or enrolling your dog in some scent work.
- Put away treats that he’s tempted to hide where he can’t get at them. You could also only give him treats with supervision. Try giving your dog treats in a room where there’s nowhere to hide them.
- Avoid encouraging the behavior. Don’t reinforce the hiding unintentionally by paying attention to it – ignore it, and reward the behavior you want to see.
- Limit your dog’s ability to dig. You could try covering the area he likes to dig in with rocks. Alternatively, try sectioning off a part of the garden that you decide is his to dig in.
- Get help if you get stuck. If you are still stumped after trying the above, consider getting help from a qualified animal behaviorist.
What Not To Do When Trying to Minimize Your Dog Hiding His Treats
Whatever you do, do not do any of the following when trying to train your dog:
- Never yell at or hit your dog. It hurts your dog and can cause him to become afraid of you, and he can then turn to aggression. Not to mention – it doesn’t work!
- Don’t chase or fuss over your dog. If you chase after your dog when he’s hidden his treats, he will see this as a way to get your attention. He’ll be more likely to repeat the behavior if he knows it gets you going!
- Don’t use negative reinforcement. Always reinforce with positive actions the behavior you want to see, and ignore the behavior you don’t want. So, never take away the treats from your dog without offering him something in return. If you want to take treats away from your dog, try offering an attractive distraction for him – something he’ll consider worth giving up treats for.
A dog that is hiding his treats is likely displaying instinctual behaviour.
Though this may not always be the case.
So watch over your dog and observe closely.
That may give you some clues, as will thinking about the situation at hand.
Thankfully, this is not a behavior you need to be especially concerned about – unless of course, it is accompanied by other more serious symptoms…
Other guides you may want to check out:
- Why Does My Dog Hide My Socks?
- Why Does My Dog Take His Treats To Another Room?
- Why Won’t My Dog Take Treats From My Hand?
- Why Does My Dog Bring Me His Treats?
I am an experienced pet owner with decades of experience owning a number of different pets, from traditional pets like dogs and cats, to the more exotic like reptiles and rodents. I currently own a Cockapoo (pictured) called Bailey. I am also the main writer and chief editor here at Pet Educate; a site dedicated to sharing evidence-based insights and guidance, based on my vast pet ownership knowledge, experience, and extensive research.