Most of us have experienced the joy that is a dog greeting you at the door after a long day. It’s hard not to smile when a pup greets you at the door, tail wagging, and toy ‘in hand’ ready to play. If you’re like many dog owners you are probably curious as to why dogs carry toys to greet you.
Your dog carries toys to greet you for a few reasons. Among the reasons are, they want your attention and to play now that you’re home, they’re showing off their toy, they’re overstimulated and need a distraction, or lastly, they think they’re bringing you a gift.
Now, let’s dive a little deeper into each of these reasons so you can get a better understanding of your pups actions.
Let’s address the most likely reason first, they want your attention and to play.
4 Reasons Dogs Carry Toys To Greet You
Your Dog Wants Your Attention And To Play
One reason that dogs carry a toy to greet you is because they want your attention and playtime. Dogs are social animals, so when you arrive home it’s natural for them to seek out their favorite person (you) with an exciting new game or activity in tow. This might be why some pups seem very excited upon greeting—they know what kind of fun awaits!
While you were at work, your pup was at home sleeping the day away, waiting for you. This is the highlight of their day when you return and come through the door because you are their person.
What’s interesting to note is the toy your pup chooses to present to you may be a toy that you often use to play with them. This means they likely want to re-create those playing moments with you. If you like this greeting behavior, keep on playing with them when you return home.
Your Dog Is Showing Off Their Toy
When your dog brings their toy to you, it is usually an indication of how much they like that toy. Most dogs love playing with toys and will spend hours in the day chewing on them or fetching them for fun. When a pup greets their owner at the door with their favorite toy, it means they want you to see what’s important to them!
Some dogs may present their favorite dog toy to their owners but not necessarily want to play right at that moment. If you notice your pup dropping their toy and running away, it might mean they want to show off their toy AND play.
Look at this as a doggy way of saying “catch me if you can!” OR It could be their way of saying, “hey this is my toy, I’m just showing you how AWESOME it is”.
Your Dog Is Overstimulated And Needs Distraction
Some dogs are just so excited to see their humans that they need something else to focus on. So our dogs grab toys and bring them out because of sheer excitement for you! These pups may have a hard time calming down when greeting people, so having an appropriate distraction can help them get control over their emotions more quickly.
This is a good solution for dogs that get over excited and cannot control themselves. It is difficult for a dog to bark and nip when they are holding an item in their mouth.
Some dogs do this naturally but others need numerous repetitions to learn to grab a dog toy when they hear their owners at the door.
They’re Bringing You A Gift
Dogs will often carry their favorite toy to you because they want to give it as a gift. This is especially common with younger pups who are still learning the ropes of canine etiquette and showing affection in ways that people can understand, so this behavior might not last forever. But if your doggo has been carrying toys around since they were just a puppy, this could be one way for them to show their love for you!
Why do some dogs bring us their most prized possession? We have no idea! It’s such an entertaining and endearing trait though—one we hope our pups never grow out of! They’re trying hard to please us by giving up something they care about.
One theory is based on their “pack” mentality that’s built into their genes. They know you are the alpha, the pack leader, so bringing you gifts is a way they maintain their spot in the pack.
Should This Behavior Be Encouraged?
Some dogs offer their toys to people as a way of bonding with them. This is because, in canine pack behavior, humans are seen as higher ranking than other animals and may be given preferential treatment over them. Dogs often use this tactic to get what they want from you – whether it’s attention or treats.
They know that if they give/bring you one of their favorite toys then they will gain some measure of your affection back! So should we encourage our pup’s to bring us toys?
That is entirely up to you! Some dog owners love it when their dogs bring them a toy when they get home. It’s a great way of having some fun with your dog and encouraging a fun, playful bond.
For dogs that can be overly excited, bark, or nip at you, having them bringing you a toy when you arrive is much better than the alternative. There’s no cause for concern if your dog does this so it’s up to you whether you want the behavior to continue.
It seems like there are a lot of reasons why dogs bring their favorite toys to greet people. The most common reason is because our pups know that they get some measure of our affection when we play with them and their toy.
Each dog’s greeting ritual is unique—some dogs might wag their tail and lick their owners, and others might jump on their owner or whine or bark at them in greeting. One of the more quirky greetings is when they come with their favorite toy in their mouths and I personally love it.
We hope this article helped you answer the common question of, why do dogs carry toys to greet you!
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