My dog collects things from around the house and sometimes removes food from her bowl and takes it to another room to hide it. I have to stand over her to make sure she eats her food when I feed her. Why does she do this?
Sue Gilmore advises…
I can understand you not wanting your dog to stash food behind furniture or elsewhere in the home, but this is a natural instinct and a deeply entrenched trait in dogs. It goes back to times when, in the wild, dogs needed to hunt to survive. Food was not always plentiful, but when it was, they often buried it in a safe place for leaner times, or hid it away to eat later.
Nowadays, we feed our dogs regularly, but dogs live in the moment and some still have the urge to provide for leaner times. This causes problems with hygiene, so you are right to be vigilant; they may even start to dig into rugs or upholstered furniture. They might also hoard toys or other items that may be left lying around the home.
Either scenario needs to be addressed, so watch her when she eats (as you are doing) and collect up any stray items before she takes possession of them. Limit her toys to one or two at a time and keep the rest out of reach. At mealtimes, pick the bowl up when she walks away, even if she has not eaten all the food, to avoid her hiding the remainder somewhere for later.
It just goes to show that old habits die hard – even when dogs may have been domesticated for tens of thousands of years.