Veterinarian-written / veterinarian-approved articles for your dog.

Hoarding Behavior in Dogs


Dog treats under the seat cushions? Furry dog toys beneath your favorite tee shirt in the corner of the laundry room? Tennis balls buried under the rose bushes? Kibble stuffed under the dog bed? You probably don’t have little gremlins at home. What you do have is a dog who is hoarding.

Uh oh! Is that normal?

Absolutely! It’s instinct.

Dog-like animals first came on the scene about fifty million years ago. Twelve to fifteen thousand years of domestication have changed them in many ways, but there are more instincts that persist than not. Hoarding is one basic survival instinct that remains intact and is exhibited by many modern domestic dogs.

Imagine the wolf/dog in the wild. After he hunts with his pack, he settles in to enjoy the reward. His pack has a pecking order and most dogs are not at the top of the order and able to eat first. There is a great deal of competition for the food and each dog is trying to get all he can to survive. Guile and intelligence pay off. Crafty dogs would often take a portion of their food and bury it to eat later.

After a successful hunt there was often a limited amount of time in order to consume the spoils. The scent of the kill would attract other meat eaters to the area and it was difficult to keep the meal from being stolen. After eating quickly, leftover meat was often buried and saved for another time.

Many times, there was simply too much food. After particularly good hunting or in an especially plentiful season, the dogs would bury bones and leftovers for consumption at a later time when food might be less abundant.

Today’s domestic dog may have a full food bowl all day or have an eating schedule that does not vary, and he will never have a need to stalk prey for sustenance, but the instinct to plan for later and endure trumps all that. Hoarding persists.

So, the next time you find kibble in your tennis shoe which you have just recovered from the corner of the basement, you’ll know your little fellow is a real survivor!

You May Also Like These Articles:

Why Do Dogs Howl?

How to Stop a Dog from Digging

Foods Toxic to Dogs - Slideshow

Hands-On Guide to Checking if Your Dog Is at a Good Weight

Healthy Treats for Dogs

Dogs and Bones

Destructive Chewing In Dogs

Sago Palms Are Extremely Toxic to Dogs

Disclaimer: This website is not intended to replace professional consultation, diagnosis, or treatment by a licensed veterinarian. If you require any veterinary related advice, contact your veterinarian promptly. Information at is exclusively of a general reference nature. Do not disregard veterinary advice or delay treatment as a result of accessing information at this site. Just Answer is an external service not affiliated with

Notice: Ask-a-Vet is an affiliated service for those who wish to speak with a veterinary professional about their pet's specific condition. Initially, a bot will ask questions to determine the general nature of your concern. Then, you will be transferred to a human. There is a charge for the service if you choose to connect to a veterinarian. Ask-a-Vet is not manned by the staff or owners of, and the advice given should not delay or replace a visit to your veterinarian.