Sunday, January 10, 2010

Bone Burying Behavior

Sorry that I've not been a regular blogger recently. We took a trip over New Year and Jason had succumb to some sort of nasty bacteria. In that I'm a dog with no fingers, I rely on Jason to help me type. He's not been feeling up to it over the past week. It looks like I'm back up and running!

Those of you who work with me in the office no doubt have seen me burry a bone. Okay, I don't actually bury the bones--there isn't any dirt in the office. I tuck bones into the corners of chair cushions, under couch pillows, or wedge them behind objects on the bookshelves.

This is a clip representative of this behavior. It wasn't actually filmed sideways but I can't figure why it shows up this way on blogger. Maybe the cats have something to do with that? I'll go chase them and make them tell me what they did later.

So why do dogs bury bones? I did a little research to find out. Not all dogs will bury bones. Whether we do or not is dependent on our genetic heritage. Over the few thousand years that dogs have lived with humans, dogs have evolved from our wolf ancestors. Various genetic lines have kept various behaviors that wolves displayed. Some dogs display very few--if any--behavioral traits of wolves. Some breeds of dogs display many.

Burying bones is thought to be a genetic trait that links back to wolves in the wild. One of the more important activities that wolves engaged in was finding and maintaining an adequate and nutritious food supply. Wolves sometimes would kill prey large enough to feed the entire pack. Other times they might only catch bite-sized creatures. During abundant times, there was more food than needed. The wolves however never knew when the abundant times we end: sometimes days or weeks might pass before a kill.

Bones, in particular the ones filled with marrow, are nutrient-rich. To hedge against those times where food was not abundant, wolves would cache or hoard these bones in or near their den. When food was scarce, the pack would be able to rely on these bones to keep them alive.

Caching or hoarding food is a common behavior among dogs, wolves and foxes. Squirrels do it, and even camels too!

So why do I bury bones in the office? I'm fed a healthy and nutrient rich diet which helps me feel satisfied, healthy, and safe. When I come across a tasty treat that I don't need, I tuck it away somewhere just in case my food supply dwindles. I also do it because it's fun. 

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