If your dog insists on dropping his toys on you, you may be wondering why he does this. It’s certainly an odd one. Is it unique to your dog, or are all dogs known to do this with their owners? Is it something you need to stop, and what can you to do stop it should you want to? Well, we’re going to be covering all here today.
So, why does my dog drop his toys on me? Dogs drop their toys on their owners to try and get them to come and play. Often a dog will choose the toy that you use the most when the two of you have playtime. Sometimes dogs drop toys on their owners in a bid for other types of attention, such as being talked to or stroked. And some dogs are highly excitable and need a distraction.
It’s not a negative thing. That’s for sure.
Your dog simply wants to engage you!
So let’s continue to explore what your dog could be getting at when they do this before turning to the recommended ways of responding!
Why Do Dogs Put Their Toys On You?
Dogs will put their toys on you either because they want to play with you, they want a different type of interaction with you, or they’re in need of a distraction. Other possible reasons include wanting to please you as the alpha of their pack and expressing their trust in you to look after their beloved toys.
Your Dog Wants To Play With You
The most common reason for your dog dropping toys on you is that he wants to play.
While you’ve been out of the house, he’s probably been napping – so when you walk through the door, for him the day really begins.
He’ll understandably be excited and want to play with you because he’s missed you.
Your dog’s excitement may last for quite a while: some dogs struggle to settle down for sleep if they don’t have a lot of playtime in the evening to burn off energy.
Different dogs have different energy requirements, both for the food they need and their exercise requirements.
Some dogs will want to drop their toys on you so that you play with them. If you usually play with your dog as soon as you come home, he’ll associate your arrival with playtime.
Most people provide a variety of toys for their dogs to keep them mentally and physically engaged.
Your dog will often choose a toy that you usually use as if to say that he understands that now is his time to have some fun and games with you.
Your Dog Craves Interaction Rather Than Playtime
It could be your dog is dropping his toy on you because he wants to show it off to you. He may not want to play with the toy, and if you try to pick it up to play a game, he may not let you.
Some owners are puzzled by this behavior: if their dog drops toys on them, surely they want to play with those toys?
Sometimes, though, it can be a case of your dog wanting to show off his toys as a way of getting your attention.
Dogs crave attention from their people, and if your dog learns that you talk to him when he drops his toys on you, he may continue to do this same behavior.
He’s learned that by plopping down toys on you, you start talking to him and giving him extra attention – and if he enjoys it, he’ll probably drop his toys on you as a habit.
Some dogs like dropping toys on you and then not letting you play with them as a game of ‘keep-away.’
Another possibility is that they have learned that their humans give them attention when they hold something in their mouths.
When you pay more attention to your dog (whether it’s talking to him, stroking him, or playing with him), your dog is getting what he craves.
Your Dog Needs A Distraction
Other times your dog can be very excited and simply in need of a distraction.
It could be that you’ve gotten into the habit of distracting your dog with a toy when he engages in behavior you don’t want, such as nipping or barking.
Or maybe you’ve been giving your dog a toy to hold when you come home as a way of keeping his mouth busy or helping him control his excitement.
If your dog is particularly prone to barking or nipping, giving him a toy to hold in his mouth is an excellent way of distracting him.
Dogs can’t bark or nip with something in their mouths, so it can be a win-win situation for a while.
Over time, your dog may have learned to go and get his toy when he hears you coming home.
He may then drop his toy on you to say, ‘OK, I know you’re home; now it’s time for fun!’ It could also be that dropping his toys on you has become your dog’s way of greeting you.
He may be offering you his toys as a way of saying hello and wanting cuddles and love.
Your Dog Is Trying To Please You
Some people think that because dogs come from a line of wolves who engage in pack behavior, your dog may be dropping his toys on you as a way to please you.
Your dog may be bringing you his toys because he thinks of you as the alpha in his ‘pack,’ and he wants to ensure his place in your pack by trying to make you happy.
Your Dog is Showing You He Trusts You
Another theory as to why your dog might drop his toys on you is to show you he trusts you with his beloved toys.
Some dogs can be very possessive of their toys – especially their favorites – so your dog bringing you his toys can be his way of showing you he trusts you to look after them.
Do All Dogs Drop Toys On Their Owners?
Not all dogs drop toys on their owners, although many people think retriever breeds tend to do this more than other breeds. If you’ve encouraged this kind of behavior in your dog, he’s more likely to continue to do it.
It Isn’t Just Retrievers or Puppies Who Drop Toys
It makes sense that dogs like retrievers who are bred to retrieve will be the ones who bring toys to their owners and then drop them, but this behavior is seen in all breeds.
Dogs of all ages drop toys on their owners, too – it isn’t just puppies.
Whether a dog drops toys on his owner or not depends very much on his individual personality and any habits he’s picked up from adapting to life in your home.
How Dropping Toys Becomes A Habit
When your dog brings you a toy and you smile at him, you’ve already encouraged this behavior.
Dogs pick up on lots of subtle human behaviors as a way to adapt to living with us, and so even your unconscious actions can act as cues for your dog to behave in a certain way.
If your dog has dropped toys on you and you’ve reacted strongly – whether speaking to him positively or negatively – he’s gotten attention from you.
The more often you respond in a positive way to him dropping toys on you, the more he will continue to do this.
And it’s worth knowing that dogs will bring anything if they can’t find a toy, even something from the trash!
Should You Stop Your Dog Dropping Their Toys on You?
You don’t have to try to stop your dog from dropping his toys on you. If this behavior bothers you, you can stop rewarding your dog when he does it by ignoring it. If you are happy for him to drop toys on you, you can at least make sure he doesn’t choose items you’d rather not receive in your lap.
If you don’t want your dog dropping toys on you, you can ignore the behavior and train him to do something else (see below).
If, however, you’re perfectly happy for him to plop his beloved items on you, you’ll want to make sure you don’t receive unwanted items.
Leave your dog plenty of toys to choose from. Some dogs become anxious if they can’t find a toy to hand to bring to you.
If your dog can’t find a toy, he’s likely to grab whatever he can find quickly: whether it’s something from the trash, the yard, or the dirty laundry basket.
You surely won’t want your home to become a mess if your dog looks through the trash for an item to bring to you, so be sure there’s always a selection of toys on hand that your dog appreciates.
Likewise, you won’t want your dog to rummage through the yard and bring in something unmentionable as his greeting gift to you! Make sure your yard is free from things like:
- Wet or dirty toys
- Open garden beds
- Animal droppings
Keep doors to hampers and baskets closed so that your dog doesn’t pick up dirty clothes and decide to drop those in your lap (or in the lap of your dog’s favorite guest!)
To make sure the first thing your dog sees when you come in the door is his toys, keep a basket of toys near the door as well as in areas where your dog spends the majority of his time.
How Do You Stop A Dog Dropping Their Toys On You?
The best way to stop a dog from dropping his toys on you is to ignore him when he does it. Over time, he’ll learn that he won’t be rewarded for dropping toys on you, and he will stop.
Here’s how to train your dog to stop dropping his toys on you:
- When he drops his toys on you, do not acknowledge him in any way. If you were reading or watching TV, continue to do so without looking at him or speaking to him
- Teach him the ‘down’ or ‘sit’ command and when he brings a toy towards you, give him the command
- When he obeys the command, start to play with him – whether he has dropped the toy or is still holding it in his mouth. You are rewarding him for not dropping the toy on you and for lying down or sitting
- Repeat this process about 30 times to condition him to sit or lie down before playtime
- You’ll know your dog has understood what you want when you see him approach you with the toy and is ready to drop it on you. He’ll gather himself and sit or lie down of his own accord
Note: It may be difficult at first to pretend your furry friend doesn’t exist when he’s dropped toys on you – he may lay his head on you as well. However, over time your dog will get bored with being ignored. He’ll figure out that if he wants your attention, he’ll need to do what you want.
You can use the same technique above to train your dog to play with toys on his own – some dogs will go off to play on their own if they’re being ignored.
Once you see your dog playing by himself, you can praise him and give him a treat.
It can be very valuable for dogs – especially anxious ones – to learn that they can play happily on their own.
Over time your dog may approach you with his toy and even wait for an invitation from you to play.
Your lap will be free of toys, and you’ll still get to enjoy playtime with your dog, but on your terms.
If your dog likes to drop his toys on you; try to see the endearing side.
Even if the toy is slobbery!
Besides, your dog just wants to interact with you.
And we owe them our time and attention.
So even if it’s something you may not particularly like or enjoy. Entertain your dog.
It’s the least you can do.
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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.