Have you noticed? Whenever your dog snuggles up next to you in bed, they drop their toys off it. Strange, huh? So why do they do this; what does it mean, and should you stop them from doing so? Well, here is everything you want to know.
So, why does my dog drop his toys off the bed? Dogs drop their toys off the bed either because they want attention, they are bored, unhappy, or feeling lonely, they don’t like the toys they’ve been given, they want to hide them, or they have behavioral issues.
As you can see, it’s a multifactorial behavior.
There is no one singular, definitive reason.
So let us delve into each one so you can work out which one it may be for your dog or for the context or time in which you are searching!
Why Do Dogs Drop Their Toys Off The Bed?
Dogs drop their toys off the bed either because they’re lonely, they want attention/interaction, they want to hide their toys, they don’t like their toys, or they’re generally just unhappy.
Your Dog Is Lonely
A common reason for dogs dropping their toys off of the bed is that they’re lonely.
This is usually the case if your dog lays on your bed during the day, and you’re not there to be with them.
Dogs are social creatures with many human-like behaviors, so they don’t like to be alone for long periods of time.
Like small children, dogs learn quickly how to get your attention.
If your dog drops toys off the bed and you then pick them up, your dog learns this behavior will get him noticed by you.
Dogs crave any kind of interaction – be it positive or negative – so be wary of encouraging the behavior.
Loneliness can easily become more severe, taking the form of separation anxiety, so it’s best to find ways to soothe and entertain your dog (see below).
Your Dog Wants Attention
Another reason your dog is perhaps dropping his toys is that he’s noticed you turn your head towards the source of the noise. Or you come to see what is happening.
Once again, this kind of reaction is normal for anyone, but your dog can see it as a way to force interaction with you.
A clever dog will do whatever he can to get your attention, so if dropping toys works for him, he may continue to do it.
Your Dog Is Bored
This is in many ways related to the above.
A dog not sufficiently stimulated or with nothing to do may drop their toys just for the fun of it!
Your Dog Wants To Hide His Toys
There are dogs who will drop their toys from the bed with the intention of hiding them.
In the wild, hiding and guarding resources from other animals is common, and some dogs are more susceptible to these carryover behaviors than others.
After all, dogs are domesticated wolves: they may be hiding things out of instinct so that they can have them for later use.
Experts believe wild dogs got used to burying food in the ground where it can be protected and even preserved to some degree (in the cool ground).
If you have a multi-dog household, your dog may want to hide his toys to keep them safe from the other dogs.
Then there are dogs who see hiding toys as a game to play. Some dogs really get a kick out of hiding things!
Your Dog Doesn’t Like His Toys
It’s possible your dog is dropping his toys because he doesn’t like them. Different dogs enjoy different types of toys, and as your dog ages, his tastes may change.
For example, puppies appreciate rubbery toys because they can chew on them as their adult teeth come in.
Consider your dog’s personality:
- Cuddly dogs may like teddy bears or other soft toys
- Dogs who are playful may appreciate balls and interactive toys or puzzle toys
- Dogs with a highly-developed sense of smell may prefer toys that encourage them to use their noses
- Dogs who like to chew will appreciate teething toys or chew bones
When selecting toys for your dog, make sure they are dog-friendly so that he can’t bite off and swallow small pieces. Dogs will eat the most surprising things, so it’s better to err on the safe side when selecting toys.
Your Dog Is Telling You He’s Not Happy
As dogs have no way to speak our language, they show their emotions and wants in other ways.
One way is by dropping their toys: a dog may simply be saying that he doesn’t want to play.
Notice what your dog tends to do when he’s unhappy or angry. Some dogs will curl up and sleep, and other dogs will drop toys and walk away.
Every dog is different – and if your dog is dropping his toys under the bed, he may be saying he doesn’t want to play. He’s putting the toys where you can’t get at them easily!
Your Dog Has Behavioral Issues
Dogs not trained or properly disciplined may be dropping their toys to show up.
It could be a result of an undiagnosed medical issue or it could be a result of not understanding what good behavior is, or what is expected of them.
Should You Stop Your Dog Dropping Their Toys Off the Bed?
Whether you should stop your dog from dropping his toys off the bed or not depends on the reason for his behavior. If the cause has to do with your dog feeling unhappy, obviously you will want to address this issue. If your dog is simply doing it to get your attention, you can easily ignore his behavior, and over time it will stop.
When You Don’t Need To Stop Your Dog From Dropping His Toys
If your dog is dropping his toys from the bed out of habit, usually there’s nothing you need to do unless the behavior really bothers you.
If it appears your dog is dropping his toys because he wants to save them for later or hide them, you usually don’t need to do anything to stop him.
As long as he isn’t digging up your garden to hide them, it’s easier to let him hide his treasures.
Having said that, there are times when hiding toys is a sign of another problem, in which case it’s essential to get to the bottom of the issue (see below).
When You Will Want To Stop Your Dog from Dropping His Toys
If your dog has been dropping toys because he’s lonely, then you definitely should address this issue before it becomes separation anxiety.
Separation anxiety is a sad and serious condition that causes a lot of heartaches both for the dog and for his family, so make sure you do what you can to ease your dog’s feelings of loneliness (see below).
If you have a dog who hides his toys, make sure he isn’t doing it for one of these reasons:
- Underlying stress or anxiety. Perhaps there’s someone else in your home who takes things away – another dog or a small child. Your dog could feel he has to to protect his possessions so they don’t get stolen, and over time he can become quite stressed and anxious.
- An underlying health problem. Some dogs will hide toys when they have been overfed because their instinct is to hide excess food to eat it later. Other times hiding toys can be a sign of boredom or loneliness, in which case you’ll want to help your dog be happier.
How Do You Stop A Dog Dropping Their Toys Off The Bed?
You can help your dog stop dropping his toys off the bed in several ways, depending on the reason for his behavior. The usual strategies are positive reinforcement, using chew toys, and training your dog to play.
If Your Dog is Lonely or Bored
If your dog is dropping his toys off the bed because he’s lonely or bored, here are some suggestions to help him stop:
- Be sure that you provide your dog with plenty of physical and mental stimulation. Dogs need more than just one walk a day – some dogs need lots of physical activity, and all dogs need mental exercise. Look into puzzle toys like Kong balls and other things that get your dog thinking – he will thank you for it.
- Teach your dog some tricks
- Take your dog with you if you go out to see friends
- Consider getting another dog so your dog has company
- If you work outside the home, try to come home for lunch as much as you can
- When you are out, put on the radio, TV, or YouTube to keep your dog company (talk shows and weather channels are best, although there are YouTube channels specializing in soothing music for dogs)
- Establish an effective routine to give your dog the physical and mental exercise needed, such as games of tug-o-war or fetch, going on a morning run together, scent work, and other games
A dog who is played with and kept busy is less likely to get into mischief.
If Your Dog is Trying to Get Your Attention
If your dog is trying to get your attention by dropping his toys from the bed, the easy fix to this is to ignore him when he does it.
The more you look, speak, move, or do anything that indicates you’re aware your dog has dropped his toys, the more he will drop them to get a reaction out of you.
The next time he drops his toys, simply ignore him (easier said than done).
Carry on with whatever you were doing (reading, watching TV, etc.), and soon enough, your dog will learn that dropping his toys won’t get your attention.
When your dog does something you want him to do, reward him so that he knows he’s done well.
Note: If you plan on ignoring your dog when he drops his toys for attention, make sure he is getting attention from you in other ways at appropriate times. An engaging and predictable daily routine is essential for dogs to feel happy and secure.
If Your Dog Is Hiding His Toys For Later
If you have a dog who enjoys hiding his toys, this is often out of habit. Some dogs will hide toys to chew on them at another time.
Other dogs will bury toys in the yard, which you may not be so happy with if you have a pristine lawn!
You can use playtime with your dog to teach him what behavior you want. Here are some tips to use with your dog:
- Avoid playing with your dog using things you wouldn’t want him to play with on his own, such as socks, shoes, children’s toys, etc. Store your dog’s toys where he can always access them. Teach your dog to put his toys there using treats to reward him when he does well
- If you come across a stray toy in your home, put it back where his toys are kept so that he can easily find it again
- Give your dog lots of praise and extra playtime whenever he brings a toy back to you
- Teach your dog the ‘give’ command so he’ll relinquish a toy when you ask him to. Use treats and praise to reinforce your dog’s behavior when he gives back a toy
Other Things You Can Do to Stop Your Dog from Dropping Toys
Sometimes you can stop this unwanted behavior by not making it as rewarding for your dog. Try things like:
- Blocking the undersides of furniture. You can put things in between the gap from the bed to the floor and see if that will make a difference.
- Putting barriers underneath other places your dog may put his toys. If you want your dog to put his toys away in a dedicated spot (see above), you can try preventing access from places where he likes to hide his toys.
- Get some gap bumpers or draft excluders. These items work very well for blocking hard-to-get-at places like gaps between appliances and the floor.
A dog that drops its toys off the bed can indicate a few different things.
And while it may seem a little odd, they are trying to tell you something!
So, pay close attention and get to understand your dog and its ways.
From there, you can get a greater understanding of what’s going on.
You may even find that with a little more attention, your dog ceases this behavior altogether!
Other guides you may want to check out:
- Why Does My Dog Drop His Toys On Me? [5 Reasons Explained]
- Why Does My Dog Drop His Food On The Floor Before He Eats It?
- Why Does My Dog Drop The Ball Away From Me?
- Dog Carries Toy Everywhere [Why & What To Do]
- Why Does My Dog Hold A Toy In His Mouth?
- Why Does My Dog Lick My Bed? [And What To Do About It]
- Why Does My Dog Dig On My Bed? [And How You Can Stop It]
- Why Does My Dog Bring Me Random Things?
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.