We all love that perfectly innocent moment when you come home, and your pooch, overcome with excitement over your arrival, brings you their favorite toy! You may find yourself at that moment contemplating, why does my dog bring me a toy when I get home? Well, here we’re going to break down the ideas and theories behind the reasons for the question of why do dogs bring you toys when you get home?
They’re Being a Showoff
All breeds behave differently, and some dogs are all for running up to you, new toy in mouth, and eagerly presenting it to you as if they want you to throw it, but then hopping or twisting out of reach before you can take it off them.
So Why Do They Do it?
There is the idea that your pup is simply wanting to show you this awesome thing they have, but with absolutely no intention of actually giving it up. This may seem a little bit frustrating, but you’ve got to admit, it’s extremely cute. And there is a potentially very good reason for it! Your pup may have figured out that when they carry a toy, they are given more attention, and so they have decided that grabbing a toy on your arrival home will give them all of the undivided attention they want!
Though there is always the possibility that your pup sees it as a fun little game of keep-away, nevertheless, they have succeeded in getting your attention and interaction, just like they wanted.
They Can’t Bear to Part With it
For some dogs when they receive a toy that, to them, is by far and away the best dog toy they have received to date, you may find they never want to be away from it. They will likely walk from room to room, toy in his mouth, going about their daily business as usual, or it may be the toy that they sleep with the head rested against.
Then Why Bring it to Me?
If you imagine for a moment that your dog is like a child, when a child gets that new favorite toy for Christmas, it is impossible to get it away from them. Dogs are very much the same, they may even decide to take their toys on walks with them. The same goes for the question of, “why does my dog bring me his bone?”, if your dog brings you their favorite toy they are showing that they can trust you not to take it away.
They are Being Over Protective of Their Toy
This a tricky one, some dogs will grow overly attached to a toy from the off. This can often happen if the toy is soft and fluffy, or squeaks, and can be attributed to their natural prey drive response to the sound of a small animal in distress or the feel on a small animal in their mouth.
What Does This Mean for My Dog’s Behavior?
First of all, it is important to remember that every single dog is different, not just in terms of breeds, but from dog to dog, and so this should be taken with a pinch of salt until you have witnessed these behaviors for yourself.
This reaction is based on a natural desire to protect their food from other predators, and the signs can be something as simple as staying in the far corner of the room to enjoy their new toy in peace, or it can include a more aggressive approach, such as snarling, growling, barking, or even snapping at people who encroach on their space.
This obsessive attachment to a toy can mean that they may meet you at the door with their new toy, exhibiting all the signs of being happy that you’re home, but not allowing you to get too close and exhibiting defensive behavior or closed off body language and no making eye contact.
What Should I Do in This Instance?
This is not ideal behavior with family dogs, and so it is worth gentle enticing your dog away from the toy if you can and taking it away. If they have been taught well to leave something on command, you can have them drop it and leave it for you to pick it up and remove it.
Dogs who exhibit this type of behavior often benefit more from the indestructible type dog toys, rather than soft and squeaky dog toys. and if their behavior does not seem to improve or concerns you in any way, it would be advisable to speak with your veterinarian.
Your Pup Wants to Play
You see, whilst you’ve been busy out of the house, running errands and working, your dog has simply been sat at home, playing with their doggy puzzle toys, or perhaps a DIY dog toy that you made for them and awaiting your return. The second you get home, that’s when playtime begins!
Your coming home will likely be the highlight of their day, all they will want is to be with you, play with you, and engage with you. This level of energy could go on for hours, or last 5 minutes. If the first thing you did when they were little puppies on arriving home was to grab a toy and play with them, they have likely learned that this is how things go.
It May Always Be the Same Toy
Adding to this, if the toy that your dog brings to you is that one toy you always picked up, perhaps a rope for a little game of tug of war, then it stands to reason that this is the one they assume you want. And if you find that your dog brings toys to baby too, they are simply passing down the tradition.
It’s Not Just Me, They Do it With the Guests!
If your guests are people that you see on a regular basis, they will view them as an extension of the pack and will bring toys to them at the door also, to engage a new playmate, and extend their playtime circle.
They Need a Distraction
Some dogs simply keep toys with them when they are excited because that is what they have been conditioned to do, and it has become a learned behavior.
Redirecting Their Energy
If your dog was nippy with their excitement as a puppy, it could be that you would provide them with a puppy chew toy to redirect their energy. Once this has been a repeated occurrence for a while, they can learn that when excited they should grab a toy, which is extremely helpful conditioning for dogs that use their mouth a lot, as they can’t very well nip you if they’re got a toy in their mouth!
They Want to Please Their Alpha
Then there is the classic theory of pack hierarchy and the idea of gift-giving for their alpha. They may bring you a toy on instinct to please you if they see you as their alpha, to ensure that they hold their place within the pack.
And if I Want Them To Stop Doing It?
Like most things, it is a simple matter of training. Seek help from a dog trainer if you are struggling, and you can get them out of the habit with a bit of time and patience. Though consider it carefully, as you may find that without this little quirk of behavior, your dog’s greetings don’t seem quite the same.
- Hilarie Erb, Ask Our Trainers: Why Does My Dog Hoard? – American Kennel Club