Are you fed up of finding stale food hidden under your sofa? Has your pet been standing on guard over toys they have buried under the carpet? Well, your dog is definitely a hoarder! Hoarding is basically a behaviour that comes instinctively to dogs despite them being domesticated and living with humans. It becomes a problem when this instinctual behaviour collides with the modern lifestyle enjoyed by humans.
It is a different matter in the wild. Animals need to fend for themselves and there is no guarantee of the easy availability of food every day. On days that are very good for hunting, there is always surplus food and it makes sense to store some of it for those days where hunting is impossible. So, digging a hole and burying the leftovers comes naturally to dogs.
This behaviour can cause problems in modern homes. Most pet parents feed their dog well and at regular intervals. But you need to understand that dogs live for the moment and have no concept of future. So, they will not understand that they will receive a bowl of food each and every day. This is why they just grab the remaining bite of food and hide it.
Unfortunately, this creates another problem as it makes your home dirty and foul smelling. It will also invite all kinds of creepy crawlies to have a feast with all the stale leftovers. So, it is better to nip this problem at the bud before it gets worse.
Hoarding of toys can promote aggression in dogs especially when they stand guard over them. To stop this, you need to find the hidden toys and keep them out of their reach. Give them just one or two toys to play with. Once they know that they have no extra toys to play with they will automatically stop hiding them as then they will not have anything to play with.
For dogs that hoard food you need to take swift action and create a routine around their mealtime. Exercise them by playing with them or take them for a long walk which will tire them and make them work for their meal.
When you both come home hungry and tired, start preparing their meal. Make your pet sit in front of you and then place the food bowl. Do not place the bowl down until they sit obediently and calmly. As soon as they stop eating and walk away from their bowl, it means their mealtime is over. Take their bowl away and do not feed your pet again without repeating the same routine.
Once you clear their bowl they cannot come back for more food for them to put away for a rainy day! So, they will have enough food to meet their daily needs without them resorting to the need to store more for the next mealtime.