Our four-legged friends display a range of behaviours, some playful, some endearing or funny, but what do they mean? Why do our dogs bring us toys? Unfortunately our dogs cannot speak to us; and so many of the behaviours they display cannot be fully explained or understood. 

Some dogs will greet their owners when they return home with a vigorously wagging tail, others may bound up to you and give you a lick, while others may bring forward and offer a toy. If your dog brings you a toy you may wonder, why? There could of course be different motivations depending on the dog. So, what might your dog be trying to communicate to you when they bring you one of his favourite toys?

He might be very excited.

Your return to the house is often a very exciting event for your sociable pet. This excitable energy might be channelled towards a toy. No matter the breed of your dog, be it a retriever, collie or a pug, excitement will commonly be directed towards a toy as a way of expressing their joy.

Your dog is trying to initiate a game.

Pro offering a special toy such as a ball or rope toy might be your dog’s way of trying to engage you in play. Bringing you a toy might previously have led to a fun game, and it wont take your dog long to learn that it’s a sure fire way to play. A good old fashioned game of fetch is often a winner when it comes to canine play.

Your pet has missed you.

Providing toys to play and engage with whilst you are out of the house is a good idea for trying to keep your pet entertained. The intention might be that the toys keep your pet inspired and interested throughout the day. But the most fun is likely to be had when they share their toys with you. If your pet is regularly bringing you toys it might be a sign that they need or are craving some extra attention and play time. 

Or your dog might be trying to please you. 

Dogs are pack animals, and some people therefore think that your pets desire to show you or give you a toy is an attempt to please you. In giving you a toy, your dog might be indicating that they see you as the leader, and to reinforce his or her place within the pack. While the old-fashioned idea of “Dominance” has been debunked, that doesn’t mean that your dog doesn’t want to please his or her pack-mates!

Your dog might be showing off his toy. 

Dogs are sometimes possessive of their treasured possessions. So some are not offering their toy but merely showing it off; retreating every time you try to reach out for it. Showing you their favourite item can be a way to get your attention, often you might start talking to them and responding. Your pet will normally enjoy this type of engagement and will remember it as a successful way to garner your attention. Showing you a special toy might also be a way for your pet to display their trust in you. Reducing their possessiveness of a much loved toy in your presence shows great trust in you; they are lowering their guard around their special friend. 

What if my dog won’t share their toys?

Dogs can be very possessive of their toys and food, and will sometimes be unwilling to share with other pets. This behaviour can spill over to their interactions with their owners, and they might start to resource guard. This means that some aggressive behaviours may be displayed if you or another pet approaches their food or toy. Such behaviours can become problematic and lead to negative interactions such as growling or nipping. If you think your pet is starting to resource guard, it would be wise to seek advice from a qualified clinical animal behaviourist who will be able to advise and hopefully ensure the behaviours do not escalate.

In summary, we don’t know for sure why dogs bring toys to us. There can be many varied motivations for the behaviour. But for the most part it sparks playful interactions between pet and owner.

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