Why Does My Dog Greet Me With a Toy?

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One of the most lovable behaviors of our dog Sally was her affection for her stuffed bear. When we first brought her home as an eight week old puppy, we gave her a stuffed bear that was about the same size of her for comfort. She became attached to that bear from the very beginning. She slept with it, snuggled it and as she grew bigger and was able to, she would carry it in her mouth everywhere.
Over the years Sally had many other toys, stuffed animals, balls, squeaky toys, frisbees, etc. But “Bear” was always her favorite. It was the one she went to for comfort.

Sally and Bear

Sally and Bear

Sally was the type of dog who would always great us at the door when we returned home and usually she would grab the first toy she could find on her way to the door. But, if we were away for several days, just any toy wouldn’t do and she would scamper around the house looking for Bear so that we would get a proper greeting I guess. It was very sweet.
My dog Max would carry toys around with her when she was pregnant and she would bring the toys – particularly a green squeaky frog – into her whelping bed with the puppies.
Tino didn’t carry them around the house, but he would carry them outside and scatter them around the yard. I think his plan was to bury them, but he only did that on occasion.
Neither Jack or Maggie do this – they rarely play with toys at all and show no preference or have a ‘favorite’.
Why do dogs do this? Why do the carry toys to greet us, or just carry them around and whine?
It’s thought that it’s related to what dogs value – they value these toys and want to offer them to you as a gift, to share them with you. Or they may want to find a safe place for them so they can return to them later – much the same as what they do with bones.
Either explanation makes sense to me.

How about you – does your dog carry toys around with them?


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  1. Scout has a ball that he loves. He has several of them because they tend to roll beneath the sofa, so I stocked up. He grabs those when it’s play time. Rodrigo likes to grab a toy when he’s ready for a nap. It’s hilarious because he comes trotting into the room, stuffed toy or ball in his mouth, and jumps on the sofa and curls around his prize.

    My girls don’t really care about toys too much, but sometimes they’ll grab one for nap time too.

  2. Laika always starts with the same toy – but if I don’t “give in” and immediately play with her she’ll go through the others. I’m assuming it’s her way of trying to initiate play, and it’s something that makes my house guests laugh every time they see it.
    Jen Gabbard recently posted…Study Finds Dogs Reduce Stress in Families With Autistic ChildrenMy Profile

  3. Taj (our 13yr old weimaraner) is a big toy (stuffed animal) carrier and loves showing you what she has – very proud of them. When she was an active hunting dog – she did much the same thing with the birds she retrieved – always very proud of herself and proud to show you what she had ! She also did this when she went into heat but was not bred (she would have false pregnancy symptoms) and would then carry around and care for the stuffed animals as if they were her puppies – licking them, placing them against her belly to nurse and in general caring for them. All feels very instinctual to me …..

  4. My gang has to grab something, anything in near reach and pick it up and hold it it’s mouth when they greet me. Gambler runs into his cage and gets out his blankie and brings that to me.
    Sand Spring Chesapeakes recently posted…3 Uses Of A Dog’s Tongue #TongueOutTuesdayMy Profile

  5. I’m not into toys, but when I’m really excited about someone coming over to our house, or if Mom has been gone for a long time I will run upstairs and get Bunny. I like to strut proudly in front of the human to show them how excited I am with Bunny in my mouth. Then I drop him and move on.
    Emma recently posted…Chicken Jerky – Does It Really Come From Chickens? #ChewyInfluencerMy Profile

  6. Sam isn’t into toys at all but the sheepdogs were and carried them around just out of reach of my arm’s reach. They seemed to use it as an effective game of keep-away rather than any greeting. [I’ve got my squeaky and you don’t have one!]

  7. Pierre will bring us a toy when we come home or if he has been in his kennel. Bentley doesn’t greet us with toys. My Golden would bring us pillows when we came home. LOL!
    M. K. Clinton recently posted…How to Increase the Chances of Getting Your Lost Pet Back Home #LostPetPreventionMonthMy Profile

  8. Sheba greets us with a toy sometimes, but not all the time. She doesn’t really have a favorite though. My sister’s Lab/Golden mix Bear always greeted us at the door with a shoe!
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  9. Cash has a huge baby that he has had since he was a pup. And yes, it’s his favorite. He often goes to look for it at night, and no other ‘baby’ will do. When we have adopted dogs from the pound or elsewhere, it is evident who had ‘babies’ when they were pups and who did not, as some of them like stuff animals and ‘toys’ and others do not. It always makes just a bit sad when a dog will not play with a toy, as I am sure it is because he or she never had one to play with previously.
    Marcia Weiser recently posted…Transgender student asks US high court to keep out of bathroom caseMy Profile

  10. My husky dog Aky has a weird preferred toy. He likes an old t-shirt, and brings it to me like every day wanting me to play with him. He pulls the shirt from a side and i pull it from the other side. That’s his favorite toy and playing method.

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