My Dog Pretends To Bury Food With Its Nose (9 Reasons)

Does your dog pretend to bury food with its nose? Did you know there are several different reasons for this? Some of them might not be what you’d expect. It can be due to their specific breed, a medical condition, or even just because they want some attention. 

Keep reading along to learn why dogs sometimes pretend to bury food with their noses.

why do dogs pretend to bury food with its nose
What makes a dog pretend to bury its food with its nose?

9 Reasons Dogs Pretend To Bury Food With Their Noses

Understanding the most common reasons can help you figure out why your dog is pretending to bury their food so that you can curb the behavior. 

  1. Hoarding Instinct

Some dogs have what we like to call a “hoarding instinct.” This instinct has been passed down from wolves and is often shown in modern-day dogs, even though they are different in many ways. 

Before our dogs evolved into the fun-loving companions they are today, they had to hunt for their food, meaning food wasn’t always readily available. To make up for this, many hid their kills so that they would have food if they couldn’t find prey. 

Though you may feed your domesticated dog well enough, they may still exhibit this behavior simply because it is their instinct. 

  1. Overfeeding

We all love to feed our pets to ensure they are never looking for food. Though, sometimes this might not be the best idea. Sometimes it’s just a bit much for our canine companions. 

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Some animals will continue eating whether they are full or not and eventually make themselves sick. Overfeeding can cause your dog to be nauseous, causing them to pretend to bury food with their noses.

two long haired dogs eating together
Two happy dogs chow into a shared meal
  1. Anxiety

Dogs can get anxiety just like we can. Canine anxiety can be because they were rescued and had a rough life before coming to live with us, or because they’ve been starved in the past. 

Due to your dog’s past with not having enough food, they may be trying to hoard their food since they’re not sure if they will continue getting regular meals. This all plays back into the hoarding instinct point mentioned above. 

If your dog has anxiety, it may also exhibit these behaviors:

  • Looking startled with eyes wide open
  • Tail tucked between legs
  • Rapid blinking
  • Ears down
  • Cowering
  • Yawning
  • Licking excessively
  • Panting
  • Pacing

It helps to speak with your veterinarian about your dog having anxiety to see about treatment options.

mini poodle eating from food bowl
A miniature chocolate Poodle puppy eating his dinner.
  1. Possessiveness

In more territorial breeds of dogs, it’s common for them to be possessive of their food. Though, it’s also common for them to be possessive of toys, beds, and more. Anything that they considered theirs is fair game. 

Some dog breeds that might do this are:

  • Rhodesian Ridgeback
  • Doberman Pinscher
  • German Shepherd
  • Giant Schnauzer
  • Bullmastiff
  • Rottweiler

If a dog buries its food, it might be trying to protect it from being taken by what the dog views as threats. 

why dog pretends to bury food with nose
What makes a dog pretend to bury food with its nose when eating?
  1. Attention Seeking

It’s common for dogs to sometimes act as children do. Sometimes they’re lively and full of energy, whereas other times they can be gloomy and sad, or they just want your attention.

According to certain studies, a dog’s social intelligence is equivalent to that of a two and a half-year-old child. That said, it’s fully understandable for dogs to act a bit strange when they want attention rather than communicating it clearly, as both kids and children crave attention from their parents. 

Sometimes when dogs are seeking attention, they will pretend to bury their food with their noses to get a reaction out of you. Whether the reaction is positive or negative, it is still attention, and your dog will crave it every once in a while. This behavior will happen more often if you watch your canine buddies eat. 

are poodles fussy eaters
Are Poodles fussy eaters? Yep! Many do have a reputation for food preferences.
  1. Picky Eater

Oftentimes, dogs who are picky eaters are mistaken for dogs who have a loss of appetite. Most of the time, in this case, dogs will pretend to bury food with their nose and not attempt to eat any of it. 

This kind of situation can be pretty irritating, especially since we, our dog’s owners, are typically the cause of this behavior. Normally, we see this behavior when owners feed their dogs some human food throughout the day. Sharing too much of your food with your pup can give them a craving for people’s food rather than puppy food. 

Not only can this turn your pup into a picky eater, but it can also prevent your dog from eating regular meals as they did before. If this has happens to you, the following steps teach you how to train your dog to eat its food out of its own bowl again:

  • Make sure that you train your dog when there are no distractions around and it is quiet so that your pup can focus.
  • Put your dog’s favorite food in their food bowl.
  • Let your dog smell the food, moving the bowl toward their nose if necessary.
  • Make sure you praise your dog for eating food from their bowl, letting them know that it is good to eat from their bowl rather than from your plate or hand.
  • Continue praising your dog anytime they eat from their bowl until it is a regular practice for them once again.

Be patient as you retrain your picky eater to appreciate their dog food again. 

hugging boston terrier at vet
Closeup of cute Boston Terrier dog at clinic with owner.
  1. Eyesight Issues

Sometimes when dogs pretend to bury their food with their noses, it can be due to an eyesight issue. They may just be trying to see what they are eating by smelling it rather than looking at it. This can be mistaken for pretending to bury food with their noses. 

Eyesight issues can be due to:

  • Hereditary eyesight issues
  • Illness
  • Injury
  • Old Age

Different signs of eyesight issues in your dog include:

  • Fear of new environments
  • Bumping into walls and other objects
  • Red and/or swollen eyes
  • Eye irritation
  • Being startled easily
  • Pawing at the face
  • Cloudy eyes

Eyesight issues can create quite a problem for some pups, even affecting the way they eat. Depending on the condition, you might need to change how you feed your four-legged friend.

  1. Nausea 

Nausea isn’t an issue that’s exclusive to humans, our canine pets can feel this way as well. Sometimes, feeling nauseous may be the reason your dog is pretending to bury food with their nose. There can be many causes of nausea in dogs, including:

  • Urinary infection
  • Intestinal parasites
  • Bacterial infections
  • Ingestion of toxic substances
  • Acute kidney or liver failure
  • Eating foreign objects such as stool or garbage
  • Colitis
  • Cancer
  • Parvovirus
  • Heatstroke
  • Constipation
  • Food intolerance
  • Inflamed intestines

If your dog’s nausea is caused by a serious illness or infection, it will often be accompanied by the following symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Depression
  • Weakness
  • Dehydration
  • Stomach pain
  • Weight loss
  • Bloody vomiting

Nausea can indicate a more complicated health issue that needs attention. It’s important to monitor your pup and get them to a veterinarian if you notice worsening or new symptoms.

  1. Your Dog’s Breed

Sometimes certain breeds of dogs will pretend to bury food with their noses simply because of the type of dog they are. Most commonly, dogs that do this are hunting dogs. While they are domesticated now, their wild ancestors used to dig to find their prey and bury their kills. This may not be the case now, but it is still in their blood. It is their instinct. 

A hunting dog could even be smelling their food, making it look as though they are burying it, to use its extravagant sense of smell to get a better idea of what they are eating. 

Breeds that typically exhibit this behavior are:

  • Bluetick Coonhound
  • American Foxhound
  • Treeing Walker
  • Labrador Retriever
  • German Shepherd
  • Golden Retriever
  • English Pointer
  • Irish Setter
  • Beagle
  • Bloodhound
  • Vizsla

Out of these several different reasons that dogs sometimes pretend to bury food with their noses, you should be able to get to the bottom of this issue, whether it takes some training, medication, or is found to not be an issue at all. 


We love our canine companions, and it is best to ensure that they have everything they need, including a change in diet, a trip to the vet, or even some training. Luckily, with the information here, you may even be able to get to the bottom of any underlying health issues with your dog that you weren’t aware of previously. 

These nine different reasons might explain why your dog pretends to bury food with their nose. Be sure to pay close attention to your pup and any strange behavior they exhibit, as it may be a sign of something other than what you’d expect. 

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