If you share your home with a canine companion and they have developed a habit of hiding and hoarding their food, it can be amusing to watch them get up to their antics - at first that is. The trouble is that when a dog starts doing this, it can lead to them standing guard over their food and any toys that might be lying around the house. It could lead to fights between two dogs that normally get on well together too.
Some dogs are serious hoarders even though they are regularly fed a nourishing diet on a daily basis. The reason for their behaviour can be put down to a trait that's deeply ingrained in their natures. In short, what is a completely natural behaviour does not sit well with the fact they live in a home environment. In the wild, a dog's ancestors would have hidden any extra food they'd found which would guarantee they had something to eat at a later date when prey was harder to find.
Digging a hole and burying food is a survival tactic some of canine companions just cannot resist doing because the instinct to do so is so great. Dogs don't have the same conception of time as people and the fact that in a few hours their bowls are going to be filled with more nourishing and tasty food does not mean anything to them. Dogs live for the moment and not for the "future". As such you may find that your dog eats some of the food in their dish before running off with a mouthful into another room so they can bury it.
Once they've found a place to hide their food which is typically under a cushion on the sofa or behind a chair they'll go back to their dish to get some more. Some dogs will hide food under a bed, carpet or somewhere else they think it will be safely stashed for later. The problem is the damage that dogs cause to furniture, carpets and other places they decide to stash their hoard which can end up being an expensive business when you have to replace things.
Another problem is that dogs rarely ever retrieve the food they've hidden which means it sits out of sight and starts to rot. This in turn means the rotting food begins to smell leaving a really unpleasant odour around a home. Rotting food attracts flies and other insects which is another problem you have to deal with if you've not found your dog's hoard straight away.
The best way to deal with a dog when they start hiding and hoarding their food is to make sure you take full control of meal times and to feed your dog after they have been taken out for a nice long walk. In short, by making sure your dog has expended a lot of their energy before feeding them goes a long way in preventing them from hiding their food in your sofa. The reason being they would be too hungry after having worked for their meal to want to hide any of it for later. However, it's best to wait 20 minutes or so before feeding your dog if you have taken them out for a strenous walk otherwise they may have trouble digesting their food which could lead to a tummy upset.
You should never feed your dog if they are in any sort of excited state, but rather wait until they are nice and calm. If they are excited do not give them their food, but make them sit down and wait quietly next to you. Once they are relaxed, you can put their bowl in front of them always staying close by so you can prevent them from grabbing a mouthful and then disappearing into the living room to stash some of it away. As soon as your dog has finished eating and walks away from their feed bowl even if there is a little bit of food left in it, pick the bowl up and place it out of reach. You should also avoid giving them any more food until their next meal time. You have to be consistent and repeat the process every time you feed your dog in order to correct the problem.
Some dogs also like to stash toys out of sight and they will even steal things from around the home which can be a real nuisance especially if it's your car keys they've decided to take. It also shows that a dog is getting a little obsessive about their toys which can lead to them becoming aggressive if anyone tries to take one away from them. The only solution to prevent a situation from escalating is to pick up all your dog's toys and to put them out of their reach before offering just a single toy to play with.
In the wild dogs bury food so they can go back at a later date and retrieve it. The instinct to do this is so strong in some of our canine friends they still feel the need to do this. The only trouble is they attempt to bury their food in furniture, under carpets and other hiding places around the home which can cause serious damage to things around the house. Not only this, but all too often a dog would never retrieve their hidden stash which then starts to smell as it rots under a chair or behind the sofa. If you notice your dog is developing a tendency to hoard their food and/or toys, it's best to nip the problem in the bud before it escalates into a troublesome behaviour.