So my dog demonstrated some behaviour last night which I've never witnessed before. At the end of a long hot day when we were settling into our camping trailer, we brought our dog inside for bed, but when I put his food bowl down in our room, he was kinda whimpering, took only one kibble off the top, dropped it on the carpet, then started using his nose to try and "bury" the kibble. I put it back in his bowl, but he merely grabbed another one, and tried doing the same thing, brushing the carpet in the direction of the one kibble with his nose. I eventually moved the bowl and put it on a little rug, but he came out from under the bed, whimpered again (the same sound he usually makes when he's sore on his foot), walked over to his bowl and tried to flip the rug over his bowl with his nose while making the whimpering sound. Finally I took the bowl out of the room, and that seemed to make him happy, and he went to bed. He acted completely normal all day, played in the water, ran through the woods, and he's been normal again today.

I get that he was probably trying to tell me that he didn't want his food, but why the weird behaviour instead of simply not eating it?

He's a 4 year old German Shepherd/Black Lab cross.

  • Not sure, but I think that translates to "this isn't my food; smells wrong or isn't what I expected or isn't where I expected it or something." May be hard to determine exactly what the complaint was, unless it's something obvious like different brand or different flavor.
    – keshlam
    Jun 29, 2015 at 3:05
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    Maybe he feels sick (heat schock), and just can't stand the smell or even the sight of food. Humans have similar behaviour in this case. Did you try offering him lots of room-temperatured (not icy cold) water and maybe the food later, after he cooled down?
    – skymningen
    Jun 29, 2015 at 12:20
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    It's textbook cacheing behavior, but I don't understand what the whimpering behavior was all about.
    – rlb.usa
    Jul 6, 2015 at 18:23
  • My dog does the same thing, the food dish is beside a blanket and every day before she eats she covers it with the blanket, takes one kibble out and covers it etc. Only two things that comes to mind when I see this, 1: I used to put treats in her bowl and she could be looking for more 2: simply playing with their food
    – user6367
    Dec 22, 2015 at 13:53
  • In my opinion, your dog is telling you he is saving his food for later bc he's not totally comfortable with his surroundings for whatever reason and prob doesn't have an appetite at the moment. Feb 15, 2017 at 0:49

3 Answers 3


Dogs bury their food for a few different reasons. Personality aside, a natural behavior is for them to bury their food and eat it at a more convenient time. Your dog may not be comfortable eating in a new location (stress or other dogs marking this area can cause this) and wants to get comfortable before eating his food, so he can bury it until a better time. If an animal does not want food they will ignore it completely.


I do believe a pet that will cover his food or treats is simply because they're not hungry and is telling you that you're giving him her to much to eat .

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    Welcome to Pets SE. As it's a pretty short answer, is there a chance that you could expand on this, or support this answer by including some sources?
    – D. Tunus
    Jul 29, 2016 at 9:01

My dog just did this same thing last night. She has a food issue though, that she will eat until she explodes (lab X pitty X boarder collie). She managed to find our friend's dog food storage and knock it over and go to town in a matter of seconds before we all realized she was missing. Anyways, needless to say she ate her fair share. But when we got her home she ran straight into her spot in the yard and started heaving and burying it with her nose. We thought she was embarrassed because she got into trouble, but this morning first place she sulked off to was those piles... Turns out our little miss was saving it for a later time because apparently we never feed her and she couldn't wait until breakfast :p She's fine btw, her bloat wasn't extreme or anything, she just had a bad tummy ache.

*So maybe for the odd behaviour is that the hot day made him feel ill and or tired and he couldn't eat, maybe heat stroke or something, but he didn't want his food to go to waste or knew he would be hungry before his next feeding time. Labs and their food, I tell you!

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