Dogs are a familiar mystery, aren’t they? You love almost everything about them and their quirky personalities. Among the many adorable things your dog does, one of the most interesting is when they bring you their toys when you walk through the door. It can make you feel welcomed home and loved and even cause you to feel additional affection toward your dog. While some of their motivations for this behavior are obvious, you may be surprised at some of the other reasons.
Here, we’ll discuss why dogs bring you their toys when you get home and whether this is a behavior you want to encourage.
To Greet You
If you’ve been at work or just to the grocery store, your furry pal loves you, and they miss you when you aren’t around. As soon as they hear the car drive in or your keys jiggling outside the door, they become excited and want to greet you with their usual enthusiasm. When they bring you their cherished toys, in addition to licking you, wagging their tail, jumping up and down, and barking with joy, they want to make you as happy as they are.
To Show Affection
There’s no question that your dog’s love is as close to unconditional as we will see anywhere. When they bring you their toys, they’re sharing the things that are the most precious to them- aside from yourself. What’s a bigger show of love and affection than the sharing of their favorite things? Next time your dog drops their toys at your feet, take it as a big “I love you.”
It’s Inherited Behavior
Your dog may not consciously engage in this behavior; it is inherited. It is in the dog’s very nature to want to please you and make you happy. They are bred to provide service and to be companions, so they instinctively do certain behaviors common to their breed. For instance, a retriever breed will bring things to you because it is their nature to do so. But this doesn’t minimize their expression of affection.
Related: How to Show Your Dog You Love Them
They Want Attention
No one wants to be ignored, not even your dog. Like all of us, your dog thrives on the attention of the ones they love. Because of this, your dog might not bring you their toys just when you come home, and you may also notice this behavior whenever you’re together. They bring you their leash, toys, or even things that belong to you to gain your attention. Patting them, talking to them, or taking them for a walk can appease them and cause them to feel your love.
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They Want to Play
Just like you and me, your dog gets bored. Many dog breeds are very playful and energetic and don’t enjoy laying around for long periods. If your dog brings you their toys or leash, they may want to engage with you in play or a walk. Short of verbally telling you they want to play, bringing you their toys is the next best, and most explicit message.
When they want to play, they may also hold onto the toy even when you try to take it. It’s a playful action meant to get you to interact with them for a little longer. They may also want to play catch or tug with you, which makes a lot of sense if they had an uneventful day. So, go on and play!
Should You Encourage the Behavior?
Your dog is super sensitive to your responses to their behavior- even your most minor responses. When you smile when they bring you their toy, you encourage the behavior. You have effectively communicated that you approve of their actions, and you want to see more of it. This is called positive reinforcement- the use of positive responses to affirm behavior and encourage it to continue.
Positive reinforcement can also be a great way to help your dog get used to new activities, routines, or even items that they may be nervous about or don’t enjoy using much. For example, dogs often need extra protection in the winter to help keep their precious paws safe and warm, but that doesn’t mean they particularly enjoy the feeling of wearing shoes. But while shoe training your dog can be challenging, employing positive reinforcement can really speed up the process and help your dog get more comfortable sporting their new footwear.
Any behavior you want your dog to continue, be sure to connect it to some positive reinforcement. If you like when they greet you with toys when you arrive home, let them know how much you like it, and they’ll likely keep up the good work. Otherwise, treat it like any other action you want to discourage.
Assuming you love it, you can also further encourage them to continue the behavioy by providing plenty of toys for them to share with you. Your dog could become anxious trying to find something to bring to you or even bring you something you would rather that they didn’t touch or riffle through- like the trash. So, make sure you give them loads of toys to play with. It might even be a clever idea to have a basket of toys near the door for their easy access.
Create a Distraction
If your dog is very excitable and overly energetic, barking, jumping, and nipping at you, you may want to encourage them to bring you their toys. It’s a great way to distract or redirect their energy. Or you can give them a toy from their basket as soon as you get home. Either way, you’ll give them something to do and provide them with a way to use up some of that energy. If you encourage them to bring you toys every time they feel overexcited, they will eventually learn to do it without your prompt.
Chew Toy Ideas for Dogs
Your dog bringing any type of toy to you once you get home is a great invitation to play, but you can also encourage them to use specific toys better for mutual playing, like chew toys. When choosing chew toys for your dog, make sure they’re age-appropriate, high-quality, durable, and well-designed. Here are just a few types:
- Squeaky toys made of thick rubber are suitable for more aggressive chewers. Thin vinyl or plastic toys are okay for mild chewers.
- Balls are a must-have toy for your dog. They love to play catch or just chew on them. Ensure the ball is not so small that it’s a choking hazard and large enough to be held comfortably in their mouth.
- Many dogs love plush toys. They love the squeakers contained inside and also the sensation of tearing them apart.
- Rope and tug toys are used for tug-of-war, fetch, and of course, chewing. Some dogs love the physical and mental exercise, while others don’t care for them at all.
How to Know Your Dog Loves You
As we already said above, your dog shows they love you when they bring you their toys. Here are several other ways your dog will show you love:
- They are happy to see you. When you get home, they'll become over-excited, which you'll notice as jumping up and down or wagging their tail excessively.
- You're the most important thing to them (besides their food). Food is super important to your dog, but after they've eaten, they want to be with you.
- They want to snuggle with you. Speaking of your dog's affection, when they love you, they want to be physically close to you - while you sleep or just sit to watch television.
- They give you presents. Just like the toys they bring you when they're ready to play, they will share with you all kinds of items that are precious to them.
- They don't care how you look. Your dog loves you when you're all dressed up and when you've just woken up in the morning. Their affection is the same no matter your weight or appearance.
- Your dog gives you loving looks. It's not your imagination - your dog has given you loving looks. This sounds funny, but they can fully show their affection with a loving gaze.
- They follow you everywhere. This is any dog parent's story; their dog follows them to every room in their home - including the bathroom! They just want to be near you all the time.
Other Unusual Dog Behavior
If you've had a dog for longer than a couple of days, you know that some of their behaviors are interesting, to say the least. Here are just a few, with some explanations.
Spinning in Circles
We've all seen our precious pooches spinning in circles for no apparent reason. It's fun to watch, but why do they do it? If your dog does it when you're about to go to sleep, they're probably just nesting. Or if they spin in circles before they poop or pee, that's normal too. But if your dog does this very frequently, it could be a sign of hearing, memory, vision, or neurological problems, so visit your vet.
Tilting Their Heads
One of the cutest, funniest things our dogs do is tilt their heads when we talk to them. Sometimes the reason seems obvious - we're saying something to them, and they look like they don't understand. Some researchers think that sensitive dogs tilt their heads to better understand your words.
This is a weird and gross one, but sometimes you may see your dog eat poop. There are some likely reasons for this, but this one seems the most reasonable. Your dog may be trying to obtain additional nutrition from the food they've already eaten, digested, and excreted. They may lack the necessary nutrition, partly because many dog food's nutrients are difficult to digest.
Not as bad as eating poop, but seeing your dog eat dirt can make you wonder what they're doing. Occasionally eating dirt is normal, but it could mean your dog has pica or anemia. Pica is an eating disorder that makes your dog crave non-edible things like rocks, grass, or drywall. Your dog could also be bored or have nutritional imbalances.
Thoughts to Keep in Mind
Your dog loves to bring you toys when you get home and when they just want to play with you. They’ll do this because it’s instinctive or because they have been trained to do it. Your dog loves you, and they are great at showing you their love. When you accept the toy they offer, you encourage them to do it again, showing them you love them right back. It’s a lovely exchange, so give them loads of toys to choose from that have various functions.
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