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Why does your dog bring you random objects?

Ellevet Dog brings you random objects

Reviewed by: Dr. David Tittle,BVetMed, CertVA, GPCert(WVA&CPM), MRCVS

You walk in the door after leaving your dog home alone and you are greeted by a wagging tail and a toy or other random item from around the house. Many dog parents are familiar with their pets bringing them assorted objects, and while it’s endearing, it can be a little odd. You have probably wondered, “Why is my dog bringing me a shoe or a dishcloth or a stuffed animal?” 

There are several possible reasons your pup brings you little gifts when they greet you. 

Table of contents 

Reasons why your dog brings you random objects 

Dogs do a lot of communicating and exploring of the world around them using their mouth. When it comes to bringing you toys and other items, there are a few possible reasons for this behavior:   

  • Giving you a gift – Dogs will often give gifts to the leaders of their pack to show affection and respect. As man’s best friend, dogs have an instinctive desire to please their humans and you have likely reinforced this behavior by giving them praise, scratches, and playtime in return. Dogs may also bring their owners their favorite toys as a sign of trust. They can be possessive of their belongings, so trusting you with their treasures could be their way of expressing their faith in you to take care of their favorite toy for them. That’s a big responsibility and a big compliment! 
  • Channeling their excitement – Your dog may bring you various objects in their mouth because they are excited, most commonly when you return home and your pup has a burst of endorphins. They usually run for their toy, bring it to you, and either toss the toy at your feet or wriggle around your legs—a full-body tail wag. Bringing you something is your dog’s way of showing they’re happy to see you, but it also helps them control their excitement and calm themself down. This is particularly true if your dog has been trained to not jump or bark to greet you—they need another way to channel their energy. And it doesn’t have to be a toy. Sometimes your dog may grab the first thing they can get their mouth on, which isn’t always a chew-friendly item. 
    Holding something in their teeth also boosts your dog’s confidence and calms them during stressful times. They may be either channeling their excitement or experiencing some nervous energy. If your dog grabs a toy or stuffed animal when you turn on the vacuum or put your shoes on to leave, this can be a sign that they are stressed and are attempting to self-soothe.  
  • Asking you to play – A common reason dogs bring things to their owners is to ask for playtime. All pet parents have been there—your dog delivers you a toy, and whether you want to play with them or not, the second you reach for it, your dog grabs for it or stares expectantly, waiting for you to throw it or play chase. This tactic to get you to play with them requires little effort from your dog and is very successful, encouraging them to keep bringing you things time and time again. Pay attention to what items your dog brings you, as that can be a clue to what they want from you (e.g., a rope toy likely means they want to play tug-of-war). 
  • Seeking attention – Puppies learn about the world by putting everything in their mouths, and then owners chase after them and pull these items out. With this, dogs learn that if they steal something, particularly something they know they shouldn’t, they have your full attention. This comes in handy when your dog gets bored, as bringing you things is a sure-fire way to get you to talk to them, pet them, play with them, or scold and chase after them (hey, attention is attention!).  

What does breed have to do with it? 

Carrying and retrieving things comes naturally to dogs. Their ancestors, wolves, would bring food back to their den to feed their pups after a successful hunting trip. This habit has likely been passed down to all domesticated dogs, but some more than others. 

Some working and retrieving breeds are accustomed to carrying prey that they’ve flushed out or collected for their human hunting companions. While most dogs do not accompany their people on hunting trips anymore, these breeds usually still have strong instincts for “soft mouthing” (holding without damaging) and retrieving prey:  

  • Labrador Retriever 
  • English Cocker Spaniel 
  • Portuguese Water Dog 
  • Golden Retriever 

If you have one of these breeds, don’t be surprised if they are constantly bringing you things and carrying objects around in their mouths. It’s in their DNA! 

Should you be concerned about your dog bringing you objects? 

If you aren’t bothered by your dog bringing you random things, there may not be a need for putting a stop to this behavior. However, gift-giving can become a problem if your dog starts grabbing objects other than their toys that could be damaged. Your dog’s habit of picking up anything they can get their mouth on can be dangerous if they turn to toxic houseplants, cleaning products, or other small or breakable items. You also don’t want them destroying your slippers or chewing up your mail.  

It is also important to determine if your dog’s retrieving habit is a result of stress. Take note of when they bring you things or put objects in their mouth, as this may indicate what is causing their stress. They may carry around their favorite stuffed animal during thunderstorms or bring you a toy when visitors come to the house. Stress isn’t good for your dog’s health and happiness, so it is important to address your pup’s stress as soon as possible. 

How to get your dog to stop bringing you random objects 

Understanding the reasons behind your dog’s retrieving habit may help you get them to stop.   

  • Ignore – When it comes down to it, your dog brings you things to get your attention for one reason or another. Even if you haven’t meant to, even a small acknowledgement like a smile is interpreted by your dog as a sign they’re doing something good. If it is safe to do so, simply ignore them and or walk away when they bring you something. Eventually, your dog will learn that stealing things or bringing them to you doesn’t work the way they want, and they will stop. However, it’s essential to be consistent and patient here. 
  • Redirect – When your dog is bringing you things they shouldn’t have in their mouth or they are constantly asking to play, you may need to redirect their attention and energy to something else. If your dog brings you a shoe, replace it with a toy so they learn which items are safe for them to play with. If they can’t seem to entertain themselves, puzzle and chew toys, snuffle mats, and Kongs stuffed with treats and hid around the house are all great ways to keep your dog busy and distracted. Reward your dog when they engage in another activity to positively reinforce and train this behavior.  
  • Exercise – You probably noticed many of the possible reasons why your dog brings you things point to excess energy. Your dog may bring you things that they associate with going outside and running around, like a ball or their leash. So, while their gifts may be a sign of affection or a need for attention, they are signaling to you that they have energy to burn. With the appropriate amount of physical activity, your pup is more likely to nap than beg for attention by bringing you things. Some breeds naturally require more exercise than others, and exercising your dog should include both physical and mental stimulation. Try to keep things interesting by incorporating a variety of activities—fetch, walks, games, training, etc.  
  • Train commands – Teach your dog the ‘drop it’ and ‘leave it’ commands. These commands can prevent them from destroying important items or eating anything harmful and could even save your dog’s life if they pick up something toxic. Reward your dog with high value treats when they comply with these commands to reinforce them and be sure to never chase them! Your dog may misinterpret this as a fun game. 

How can ElleVet’s CBD + CBDA help stressed dogs? 

ElleVet’s CBD + CBDA chews, soft gels, and oils can offer support for dogs’ stress by helping their stress levels decrease and return to a normal state of balance. CBD + CBDA truly calms without sedating, which is key to allowing dogs to handle stressful situations like houseguests, thunderstorms, and separation.  

While carrying around and bringing you things when they are stressed is generally harmless and can simply be a sign of affection or playfulness, if you suspect it is stress then CBD can help address this issue. Calming your dog with ElleVet can help them learn to overcome fears or causes of stress. 

Bottom line 

While bringing you random objects is quite normal and a form of communication for dogs, the behavior can indicate that your dog may be stressed or has energy to burn. If you suspect it is more than playfulness or joy at your return to the house, ElleVet can help.  

Consult your veterinarian if you feel your dog is experiencing stress. For any questions about ElleVet’s CBD + CBDA products, give us a call (844-673-7287) or send us an email ([email protected]). We are here to help.