Our dogs are designed to work with us, and one of the primary parts of their job was retrieving. Our canine companions have been selectively bred to enjoy picking things up, carrying them and delivering them to their handlers. Hunting dogs will bring their handlers rabbits, pheasants or ducks. But dogs at home will settle for whatever they can get their mouths around.
Your dog evolved to crave your approval and companionship. Even though your pet pooch is a member of the family and not a hunting partner, they still have those innate instincts to fetch.
Why Does My Dog Bring Me Random Things?
Innate natural retrieving skills are a part of the picture when it comes to why your dog brings you random things. But they aren’t the whole story. Rewards, games and attention are other key aspects to this fun behavior. But the bottom line is that your dog brings you random things because they find the experience rewarding.
Natural Retrieving Instincts Make Dogs Bring You Things
Although we all know that retriever breeds have the instinct to fetch and carry, many other dogs have this trait too. From tiny terriers to wiley Whippets and gigantic Great Danes, you’ll find dogs that love the rush of the retrieve.
Our domestic dogs all come from the same wolf-like ancestors. They were tamed and welcomed into our hearts and homes hundreds of years ago. Over time they have branched off into a number of different purposes, but all of them share some connection to our hunter gatherer roots.
Dogs like Labrador Retrievers are used to this day to pick up game such as pheasants or rabbits, and bring them back to their owner. American Labradors have this trait the most strongly, but I’ve raised several Labs with English ancestors that are just as crazy keen on bringing me things.
Does My Dog Bring Me Random Things For Treats?
When my youngest dog Bonnie (pictured above) brings me something I’d rather she hadn’t picked up, I exchange it for a treat. Usually just a piece of kibble, but something that makes it worth her while to give the thing up. It’s often something like a notepad that she’s nabbed from the sideboard, or a tv remote.
It’s a great system for getting dogs to hand over your stuff. Ideally before it’s ruined with drool or puncture marks. The downside of this approach is that your dog might well be bringing you more random things than usual, in exchange for those tasty treats.
Does My Dog Want To Play Fetch?
When we’re in the backyard, I throw balls, Kong toys and frisbees for my dogs when they bring them to me. In the house I’ll sometimes skid their soft plushies across the floor as a bit of a game. But dogs don’t discriminate between toys and non-toys, not unless they’ve been taught to in any case.
A dog that loves playing fetch and is used to you being obliging, will bring you any number of random objects in an attempt to engage you in a game.
Why Does My Dog Bring Me Random Things To Tug?
The same goes for tug toys, or anything tug-worthy really. Games of tug are incredibly rewarding for dogs, especially those from the adorable terrier breeds. And this one even happens accidentally.
You might think you are trying to get your random item out of your dog’s mouth and away from harm. As they frustratingly clamp down you are trying to retrieve your possessions. They think you’re engaged in a fabulous game of tug. And this tugging behavior is fun. So they’ll try and get another game going real soon, with whatever they can reach off the counter top.
Does My Dog Bring Me Random Things For Pets?
How cute does your dog look carrying things around in her mouth? I’m going to bet pretty adorable, perhaps even almost nearly as sweet as one of my own pups… If you’re anything like my family, you’ll give them at least some sort of physical acknowledgement when they come to you.
Head scratches, tummy rubs, pets and hugs are all liberally dished out to a cute pup carrying a random object. And this positive attention reinforces the behavior. Each time you reward them with your focus, time and love for showing you the random thing they’ve picked up, you increase the likelihood of them doing it again with some other crazy find.
The Labrador Site Founder
Pippa Mattinson is the best selling author of The Happy Puppy Handbook, the Labrador Handbook, Choosing The Perfect Puppy, and Total Recall.
She is also the founder of the Gundog Trust and the Dogsnet Online Training Program
Pippa's online training courses were launched in 2019 and you can find the latest course dates on the Dogsnet website