Why do dogs bring you toys and other gifts?

Why do dogs bring you toys
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Have you ever wondered why dogs bring you toys? If you are a pet parent to a doggy fur-child, they probably have an extensive collection of all sorts of fantastic dog toys that you're constantly tidying up!

It can even seem like they're trying to make as much mess as possible when they carry their toys around and leave them in different places.

So, why do dogs carry their toys around with them? And what does it mean when they bring you their toys? Is it because they want to play? Is it a gift or a declaration of love? Read on to find out.

Why dogs walk around with objects in their mouth

Your dog might carry objects in their mouth for several reasons. If they are a working or a retrieving breed, their natural instinct might be to carry it, just as they would carry dead animals on a shoot or hunt. 

Equally, though, certain objects can act as a reassurance to dogs. Their favorite toys are likely to feel and smell familiar and might act similar to a soft toy or comforter in young children. Females may also carry toy ‘babies’ when they’re in season, or make a nest and place her favorite toys inside. 

Why do dogs bring you toys?

dog carrying toys

(Image credit: Getty Images)

1. They want attention

You might wonder why, when you’re lounging on the sofa, watching TV, or having a cup of tea with a friend, your dog comes to you with a toy and places it on your lap. This could signal that they want your attention. They might want a rub behind the ears or a pat on the head. 

2. They're bored

If your pooch brings you their toys, it could also mean that they're bored and ready for playtime! Often, when dogs bring you their ball or even their lead and collar, it can mean that they're ready for a walk, and bringing toys could be a similar behavior. 

3. It's inherited behavior

Dogs are typically people pleasers, a quality that has made them excellent service companions to humans, but each individual breed also has their own distinctive attributes. 

Your dog might bring a toy to you because they are a retriever breed, and it is part of both their instinct and training to bring items to you.

4. Sign of affection

Many people like to believe that they are bringing you a gift or offering to share their favorite toy because they love you. When dogs bring you things like toys, their lead, and collar, or clothing, they could be trying to tell you something. It might be that they are truly giving you a gift and that they want to please you by giving you a treasured item.

5. They're greeting you

Although not quite as helpful as getting your slippers and a cup of tea, bringing you toys is sometimes their way of trying to please you and make you happy. If you come home from work and are greeted by your dog, wagging their tail, and carrying a toy, it might be their way of telling you that they've missed you! 

After all, bringing one of their favorite toys to you is, in some ways, just another happy greeting like jumping up, licking you, wagging their tail, or barking with excitement.

collie with toy

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Do dogs pick a favorite person? 

If you have a family dog, they probably have a different relationship with each family member. That doesn't mean they don't love each person, but they will appreciate different things about different people, just like humans do.

Dogs will bond with everyone differently, but they do often form a special connection with one person. This is usually the person who spends the most time with the dog, but not always. Dogs can seem to form special bonds with the people they like the most, even if they don't see them very often. 

Why do dogs bring toys but then won't let go? 

If your dog brings you toys but won’t let go of them, it might mean that they are craving some interaction with you. They might be trying to instigate playtime by getting you to try to catch them, or they might want to play tug with you. This is especially likely if they’ve had a quiet day or been on their own for a little while. 

So, is it normal for dogs to bring you their toys? 

Carrying toys and bringing toys is absolutely normal behavior for dogs. It's also a behavior worth encouraging because it's friendly and can help reassure your dog at times of stress. 

For instance, if your dog is usually scared by fireworks or strangers visiting the house, carrying a toy may help them stay calm and give them something to do. It's important to notice if your dog might be trying to tell you that they're bored or want a walk, but before you get your running shoes on, remember, they might just want to share a special moment with you! 

Dr. Hannah Godfrey BVetMed MRCVS

Dr Hannah Godfrey is a small animal vet who graduated from the Royal Veterinary College in 2011 and began work straight away at a busy mixed practice. Initially, she treated all species, but focussed on small animals from 2014. She has a passion for soft tissue surgery, ultrasound, and canine and feline dentistry, having completed additional training in these areas.