Does your dog give you gifts when you come home?
One day it’s a squeaky toy.
The next, your dog greets you with a chew toy in their mouth.
But you wonder.
“Why does this happen?”
Read on to find out:
- If your dog carries their toy to brag to you.
- 9 reasons why dogs bring toys to greet you.
- Whether your dog brings you their toy to trade it for something else.
- And much much more…
Why does my dog bring me toys?
Dogs bring you their toys because you encouraged this behavior. They learned that it makes you happy. Your dog could also want to play with you or they’re nesting. It could be a sign of resource guarding. Another reason is that it keeps your dog from getting too excited.
9 reasons why your dog brings you their toys (when you come home)
#1: You encouraged the behavior
Your dog brings their toys everywhere.
You laughed at this behavior.
Gave pets. Or played with them.
Doggo now thinks that bringing toys will make you happy.
So they bring it to you as soon as you get home.
#2: Doggo wants to play
Your dog knows that toys are for playing.
Who else would they want to play with?
Their human, of course!
They want to spend time with you, after a long day of your absence.
Take this as an opportunity to have fun with your doggo.
Playtime with your pooch strengthens the pet-owner bond.
A very interesting study found that oxytocin levels rise when dogs and their owners spend time together.
The dogs who had longer eye contact with their owners had higher levels of the hormone and vice versa.
Oxytocin is the hormone that builds relationships and reinforces bonding.
Humans release it when we interact with our loved ones.
Mothers and their babies produce it all the time.
But we also do it with our furry companions.
The researchers compared the results with oxytocin levels of hand-reared wolves and their handlers.
The wolves weren’t affected by the bonding time.
#3: Your dog’s nesting
Fun fact: Female dogs sometimes have toys as their “puppies”.
This is one manifestation of nesting behaviors in false pregnancies.
Female dogs in heat will sometimes have phantom pregnancies.
Their breast will grow large or they will vomit.
It doesn’t affect all dogs.
But there are times when they will hide or protect toys.
Why do false pregnancies happen?
Hormone levels rise when female dogs are in heat.
It prepares their body for pregnancy.
The whole process tricks your dog into thinking that she is pregnant.
If your dog isn’t pregnant their hormone levels will drop.
Note: It’s not something to worry over. According to VCA, the symptoms will disappear in 14-21 days. But keep an eye on your dog. Take her to the vet if she starts to show signs of discomfort or pain.
You might also like: 11 Strange Reasons Why Your Dog Scratches Your Bed Sheets
#4: It’s a learned behavior
Dogs are smarter than we give them credit for.
They had thousands of years to evolve with humans.
Dogs became masters at reading our behavior and language.
If your dog has seen that there’s a reward for giving you something, they will apply it.
A perfect example of this is Negro.
He’s the campus dog of Colombia’s Diversified Technical Education Institute of Monterrey Casanare.
The faculty give him food, shelter, and love. And he is beloved by the students.
One day, he realized that humans go into the campus store, hand over money, and get something in return.
He found the closest thing to money, leaves.
Do you know what he did next?
Negro marched into the campus store. Plopped his front paws on the counter.
And “handed” the leaves to the store attendant.
Now he comes into the store with the students and buys his daily treat.
In exchange for the leaf, the store attendant gives him a cookie.
Dogs have learned how to read us and they will continue to learn more.
#5: “Look at my toy, hooman! Isn’t it nice?”
Sometimes your pooch brings a toy to show off.
Does your dog back away when you try to touch the toy?
Maybe with an accompanying growl?
Your dog is showing you their prized possession.
But they don’t want to share it.
This is a dangerous habit for your dog to form. It’s a sign of resource guarding.
What is resource guarding?
This is a common dog behavior issue that happens when dogs don’t want their possession taken away.
It can happen with toys, food, even trash from the can.
According to the ASPCA, this behavior starts during puppyhood.
Most breeders feed puppies together.
And the puppy who eats the most gets stronger.
The puppies learn to eat like there is no tomorrow.
Because if they don’t, they go hungry.
When they go to their homes, the pup keeps on doing this.
Dogs who resource guard are often left alone by their owners.
But it’s dangerous because they can bite someone who doesn’t know the signs.
“How do I know if my dog is resource guarding?”
The AKC states that most dogs will do the following:
- Hard staring.
- Lifting of lips.
- Low growling.
- Baring their teeth.
- Snapping at those who come close enough.
- Standing over their resource with a stiff body.
Warning: If your dog displays the signs, seek professional help. Resource guarding is a tricky thing to correct.
First, go to your vet to rule out any medical condition that is causing your dog to become aggressive.
Second, get help from a certified animal behaviorist who specializes in desensitization and counterconditioning.
“What can I do to prevent resource guarding?”
The best way to do it is by correcting the behavior early.
Help your puppy learn that you’re not going to take their food.
Follow these steps if your puppy displays resource-guarding signs:
Step 1: Give your dog several hand-fed meals. Give lots of pets and soothing noises while feeding.
Step 2: If your dog looks comfortable with you being near, place their bowl on your lap and let them eat. Again, lots of pets and soothing noises.
Step 3: Do this a few times.
Step 4: Set your dog’s bowl on the floor.
Step 5: Place your hand over their food and drop treats over their food.
Do steps 1 to 5 as an exercise for your dog.
Eventually, they will not display possessive tendencies over their food.
You can do the same steps if your dog is guarding their toys.
#6: Your pooch is being polite
If your dog also does this with visitors to your house, they may be trying to say,
“Welcome to my house, come in!”
The toy-bringing is your dog’s way of saying that they like someone.
And it’s not just toys.
Dogs will come to the door with wriggling bodies, dragging a blanket to the door.
They will even share food (the ultimate resource) with their friends.
Sharing is something that dogs will do with someone they know, as this experiment found.
The dogs were given two tasks to solve.
If they succeeded with the first task, they got treats.
In the second task, the treats were for their partner dogs.
The results showed that if the partner was someone they knew, the dogs were more likely to do the task and share the food.
#7: It calms them down
Your dog gets anxious when you’re gone from the house.
Their toy is like a security blanket to them.
It calms your doggo until you get home.
It also helps them contain their excitement.
Sometimes your dog will greet you with their whole body. Including teeth and paws.
And you end up with scratches and bruises from your dog climbing all over you.
Toys help redirect their attention.
You’ll still have a happy reunion but one that’s less physical.
“How do I keep my dog calm if I’m not around?”
The best way to do it is to stimulate your doggo’s mind.
With what, you ask?
But don’t give your dog a Sudoku puzzle and expect them to solve it.
Your dog needs different games to solve.
What are these puzzles?
These are toys that make your dog use their senses to uncover treats.
This involves you hiding treats in a toy. Your dog then has to figure out how to get to the reward.
Upgraded chew toys
KONGs are examples of this.
The company has all kinds of selections. There are KONGs suitable for puppies, small to large dogs, and senior dogs.
The classic KONG toy allows the owner to stuff it with treats or kibble.
Your dog has to figure out how to get it all out.
You can also play games of fetch with the toy.
What are the benefits of these toys?
They keep your dog engaged and entertained.
Leaving your dog alone can lead to boredom and anxiety.
Puzzles will keep them occupied until you get back.
Most dogs go to sleep after a session with their toy.
#8: Your dog wants to trade
Your dog places high value on their toys.
If they drop it at your feet, they may want to trade with you.
“A toy for kisses, hooman?”
Or more realistically,
“D’you hab treats?”
It’s a fair trade in your dog’s mind.
They drop their toy to exchange it for something even more valuable.
Watch Charlie the Beagle trade a toy for his hooman’s breakfast.
Did you know that you can use this to your advantage?
If your dog likes to trade, you can teach your dog the “Drop it ” and “Take it” command.
This will help you keep your dog away from eating things that may hurt them.
Teaching the “Drop it” and “Take it” command
Victoria Stilwell does this exercise using dog toys with increasing value.
Step 1: Let your dog play with a toy he doesn’t like very much.
Step 2: When he takes the toy, say “Take it”.
Step 3: Let him play with it for a while.
Step 4: Then allow your dog to see a new toy from you.
Step 5: If he drops the toy, say “Drop it” and give him the new toy and say “Take it”.
Step 6: Do this on repeat and level up by using toys that are treats your dog likes.
Step 1: If your dog doesn’t want to give you the higher-value toys, move away from your dog and start playing with a new toy. Don’t look at your dog.
Step 2: Your dog becomes curious and will come towards you to give up the toy in their mouth.
Step 3: Immediately, say “Drop it” when your dog lets go.
Step 4: Reward him with the toy you were playing with, and say, “Take it”.
#9: They know you need some lovin’
Are there times when work gets you down and you come home sad?
Your dog senses that.
Did you know that dogs have been with humans longer than cows?
From the first wild canine brave enough to make friends with our ancestors.
To your pooch sitting at your feet right now.
Dogs have been with us for thousands of years.
They have developed the ability to sense even the smallest changes in our body language.
My friend’s Pug, Gigi, knows the footsteps of her favorite hooman. She immediately goes to the door the moment she hears it.
Gigi doesn’t do that for any other member of my friend’s family.
This is the wonder of the dog-human bond.
In fact, the results of a study on dog response to human distress showed that dogs rely on body language to interpret human behavior.
One by one, the researchers exposed 18 dogs to a person strange to them.
The person pretended to cry.
The dogs licked, nuzzled, or nudged them in an attempt to provide comfort.
Your dog knows when you’re sad.
So when you have a bad day and your dog greets you with a toy, maybe they’re trying to lift your spirits.