Does your dog have a hoarding issue? Whether it’s slippers, snacks, toys, or clothing, many dogs exhibit a tendency to build out a secret stashes. In a recent article, Mother Nature Network’s Mary Jo Dilonardo takes a closer look at hoarding behavior in dogs, where it comes from, and what you can do about it if it’s a problem.
The most likely cause for hoarding? Instinct! According to the American Kennel Club’s Hilarie Erb, hoarding stems from behaviors that used to be essential for dogs’ survival. “They were lucky if they ate every few days, and if there was a jackpot of more food than could be eaten at once, these dog ancestors would sometimes take some food and bury it in a safe place for later. Wild animals do the same thing today,” said Erb.
So what about the hoarding of non-food items? Surely a pair of socks stashed away for a rainy day didn’t give dogs an evolutionary advantage. According to behavior consultant Arden Moore, dogs who hoard toys and other non-consumables may be looking for some play. “These dogs know what is important to you and they will grab the item just at the right time, so you see them do it. Their great hope is that you will follow in hot pursuit,” said Moore.
Is hoarding a problem? For many dogs, the occasional hoarding of food or toys doesn’t pose a health or safety issue; however, for some, hoarding may grow out of control to the point where it negatively affects their lives or yours. What can you do if you suspect your dog has a hoarding problem? According to behaviorist Jolanta Benal, you may want to explore activities to keep your dog stimulated and enriched so they do not need to engage in hoarding behaviors.
“Exercise is half the cure for boredom; mental stimulation is the other half. Attention is a need; dogs are social animals. Nobody enjoys a bored dog’s pestering, but it’s reasonable for our dogs to want some of our time, focus, and affection every day.”
— Jolanta Benal, Behaviorist
More information about hoarding among dogs, including ways to address problematic hoarding behaviors, can be found in the full article.
Source: Why dogs hoard things