It’s endearing but a little odd, isn’t it? Those random things our dogs bring to us. What do they expect us to do with them exactly? Jokes aside, why does your dog do this, and what does it mean? Is it something you need to take a further look into? Well, here is everything you’ll want to know.
So, why does my dog bring me random things? Dogs bring their owners random things either by instinct or because of how they were trained. He may be trying to please you or showing he trusts you, he may want your attention or to play, or he may want to release some pent-up energy.
That explains why they do it so often, then.
But with so many potential reasons, how do you know which one is responsible for your dog’s behavior?
Well, let us delve into the reasons in greater detail before turning to how you should respond.
What Does It Mean When Your Dog Brings You Random Things?
It can mean several things when your dog brings you random objects. Your dog may be trying to please his alpha pack member (you) by bringing a gift. He could be showing his trust in you. Other times he’ll want your attention, or he’ll want to play – or maybe just go for a good run. Some dogs will bring their owners things out of instinct.
Your Dog Is Trying to Please You
A common reason for dogs bringing their favorite person random objects is out of a desire to please when they see this person as the alpha member of their pack.
Dogs will often give gifts to their ‘alphas’ to show affection as well as out of a desire to please.
If your dog is trying to please you, it’s important not to scold him or rebuff him: the best thing to do if you don’t want the item is to either ignore him or distract him (see below).
Your Dog Is Demonstrating That He Trusts You
Dogs sometimes will bring their owners odd objects as a sign of trust. Research has shown that dogs can choose whom to trust.
Your dog may be saying that he trusts you to look after his treasured possessions: this is particularly true if your dog tends to bring you toys or other objects that you know he really loves.
Some dogs will carry around objects that reassure them, much like children carry around a favorite toy.
There are female dogs who sometimes carry toy ‘babies’ when they’re in season, and they may bring these ‘babies’ to you.
Your Dog Wants Your Attention
A bored dog will seek the attention of his favorite person, sometimes by bringing that person an object.
If you have a friend visiting and your dog brings you an object, he may simply want to be seen.
Sometimes a pat on the head or some scratching behind his ears is enough to help him feel noticed and content.
If you’ve just come home and your dog brings you something random, this could be his way of saying he’s missed you.
Bringing you something is your dog’s way of showing he’s happy to see you, but it also helps him control his excitement.
Carrying something to you in his mouth is one way he can calm himself down.
Note: Sometimes your dog might bring you things when you have a guest over because he wants attention, and the guest takes the object as a game. Be mindful that some dogs can see this as an act of aggression. Watch your dog’s body language to observe how he reacts to this, and separate him from you and your guest if needed. You can use a dog gate, for example, so that he can still see you but not get to you. Just be sure to shower your dog with lots of love when your guest goes!
Your Dog Wants You To Play
If your dog is bringing you a random object and you aren’t sure why, check if he wants to play with you.
Dogs find all kinds of things interesting to play with, and some of their choices can surprise us.
If your dog wants a change of pace, he may well bring you something different to play with, as if to say, ‘Let’s try this!’
Pay attention to what your dog is bringing you, as that can be a clue to what he wants you to do with it (e.g., bringing you a rope could mean he wants to play tug-of-war).
Your Dog Wants To Release Pent-Up Energy
You may see a desire to release pent-up energy as another way to ask you for playtime, but some dogs don’t get enough physical exercise.
They may bring their owners things that they associate with going outside and running around.
In these cases, your dog isn’t necessarily looking to play a game – he may really need to stretch his legs.
Different dogs have different exercise requirements which can vary widely from one breed to another.
Small dogs like toy breeds can get by with 30 minutes of physical exercise per day, whereas larger dog breeds need about 2 hours per day.
Your Dog Is Acting Out of Instinct
Some working or retriever breeds are accustomed to carrying things around in their mouths, such as prey that they’ve flushed out for their hunting companions.
Examples of retriever breeds are:
- Golden Retriever
- Flat-Coated Retriever
- Chesapeake Bay Retriever
- Gordon Setter
- Curly Coated Retriever
- Labrador Retriever
- English Cocker Spaniel
- Portuguese Water Dog
There are many working dog breeds – at last count, 31, according to the AKC. Some examples of working breeds are:
- Great Pyrenees
- Doberman Pinscher
- German Pinscher
- Golden Retriever
- Labrador Retriever
- German Shepherd
Note: Golden Retrievers and Labrador Retrievers are some of the dog breeds that are both working and retriever breeds, so carrying things comes doubly naturally to them!
If your dog is one of the above breeds, it could be that your dog is acting out of his natural instinct to carry things around – in which case, it would be very difficult to stop this behavior (see below).
Should You Stop Your Dog Bringing You Random Things?
If you aren’t bothered by your dog bringing you random things, there’s no need to put a stop to his behavior.
As long as your dog isn’t acting strange, there’s no cause for concern if he brings you random things.
Let him bring you things, especially if it doesn’t bother you, as most of the time this behavior is helpful for your dog.
Some dogs calm themselves by carrying things around in their mouths (even if they’re not a hunting or retrieving breed).
By allowing your dog to carry things and bring them to you, you’re letting him calm himself the best way he knows how.
Because many dogs bring things to their owners out of a desire to please or to express their joy at seeing them, it’s best if you can let them do this.
You wouldn’t feel good if someone rejected your gifts of love, right? It’s the same with your dog.
The last thing you’d want to do is upset your dog – and if you refuse his gifts or try to stop him from bringing them to you, he may get upset.
However, there will be instances when you’ll want to address the causes of this behavior (see below).
If your dog is craving attention, exercise, or affection, you’ll want to make sure his needs are being met before trying to stop him from depositing things in your lap.
How Do You Stop Your Dog Bringing You Random Things?
If you are bothered by your dog bringing you odd objects, check the cause of his behavior before aiming to put a stop to it. Once you understand what’s going on, you’ll be in a better position to change his behavior.
When You Can Probably Stop or Limit Your Dog Bringing You Random Things
If Your Dog is Acting Out Of Habit
Remember that if you have previously greeted your dog with a smile when he brings you random objects, you have been encouraging him.
Even if you haven’t meant to, those smiles are interpreted by your dog as signs he’s doing something good.
The more rewards you’ve given your dog when he brings you things, the longer it can take to change this behavior.
Your dog has an innate desire to please you, so give him other ways to please you that don’t involve him bringing you things if you want to discourage this habit.
If Your Dog is Asking for Attention, Playtime, or Exercise
If your dog wants attention because he’s bored, the obvious solution is to pay more attention to him.
Make sure he’s getting enough physical and mental stimulation through walks, games, and interactive toys.
A dog who has enough mental and physical exercise should be content, unless he is suffering from separation anxiety or another health problem.
If your dog is suffering from stress or anxiety, look to address the causes of this behavior.
Once you’ve helped your dog to feel less stressed or anxious, the behavior should take care of itself.
If it doesn’t, you can use positive reinforcement to reward the behavior that you want and ignore the behavior that you don’t want.
When You Probably Have to Put Up with Your Dog Bringing You Random Things
If Your Dog is Acting Out of Instinct
If your dog is acting out of instinct because he’s a retrieving or hunting breed, it will probably be very difficult to try and stamp this natural behavior out of him.
If Your Dog is Expressing Excitement
If your dog is excited to see you at the end of a busy day and his way of expressing that is by bringing you random things, it’s going to be difficult to stop this behavior.
The best you can do is ignore him until he is calm and then give him cuddles – which can be very difficult to do if you’ve missed your dog.
How To Protect Your Things
You may not be able to stop your dog from bringing you things altogether, but here are some things you can do to at least protect your more valuable possessions:
- Make sure you supervise puppies, as they are most likely to get into trouble if left to their own devices
- Store items away in secure cupboards or cabinets that your dog can’t get into
- Provide a basket (or several baskets, depending on the size of your home) with dog-friendly things that you don’t mind your dog carrying around and bringing to you
- Make sure your dog has an enriched daily routine so that he isn’t as tempted to seek stimulation from household objects
- Use dog gates to have some areas of your house remain out of bounds. Childproofing devices work well for this purpose
- Teach your dog the ‘drop it’ and ‘leave it’ commands. These commands could even save your dog’s life if he picks up something toxic
- Place any highly valuable items high out of reach or in locked cabinets
Dogs bring their owners random things.
It’s just what they do.
In fact, as we have learned here today, it’s instinctual to many breeds.
That being said, there are some underlying causes that you may be able to nip in the bud if you did want to stop this behaviour.
At least in part!
My other related dog behavior guides you may want to read:
- Why Does My Dog Bring Me His Bone?
- Why Does My Dog Bring Me His Treats?
- Why Does My Dog Bring Me Socks?
- Why Does My Dog Drop His Toys On Me?
- Why Does My Dog Drop His Toys Off The Bed?
- Why Does My Dog Drop The Ball Away From Me?
- Why Does My Dog Take His Treats To Another Room?
I am a practiced pet owner with decades of experience owning a number of different pets. I am also the main writer and chief editor here at Pet Educate; a site I created to share everything I’ve learned about pet ownership over the years and my extensive research along the way.