Has your dog just dropped his toy at your feet? If he has, it probably isn't the first time, is it? Some dogs just love to bring you their favorite toy and drop it at your feet. They can do it, time and time again as if they're on automatic repetition and you haven't got anything else to do apart from picking it up and give it back to them. Have you been trying to have a relaxing moment in your preferred armchair, maybe taking time out to read the latest newspaper headlines or finish the book you started over a week ago, and all your dog does is constantly bring toys to your feet? The interruption can get quite frustrating, can't it?
Has it made you wonder, just why do dogs bring toys to your feet?
The Root of the Behavior
If your dog loves to bring toys to your feet, you wouldn't be far wrong in guessing that he's well and truly mastered the art of getting your attention. He doesn't need to be one of the Retriever breeds to have picked up the knack either. Just hearing you happily asking him, what's that you've brought me, will be all the response he needs to encourage him to keep doing it. Take that a step further, by picking the toy up and throwing it for him to fetch and you'll have fully responded to his request to play. He'll love you for it, but be prepared, because he'll keep on bringing his toy to your feet until you decide you've had enough.
Do dogs give their owners gifts? It's a difficult question to answer. Is your dog, when he drops a toy at your feet, in his mind giving you a present? Even though it probably won't be gift wrapped in anything other than his saliva, he may well be. It's a natural trait for canines to share their prey with their pack leader. Toys are a domesticated dog's substitute for prey, but although he's bringing it to your feet, don't worry. He probably won't be expecting you to pick it up in your mouth and eat it. He'll be just as happy with an acknowledgment of his gift giving which could be in the form of a verbal thank you or a loving pat on the head.
While you might be enjoying a quiet moment reading the newspaper, when your dog is bringing toys to your feet he is trying to tell you something. He's making a simple statement which basically boils down to the fact, he's bored and the only thing which will make him happy is for you to put down your paper and take him for a walk.
Encouraging the Behavior
It's always nice to receive a gift, whether it's from a human or canine friend, and no matter how unusual the proffered object. But when a gift is presented in the form of a persistent offering, then the novelty of being the recipient can quickly wear off. Having toys thrust at you all the time can become very tiresome. You might even find yourself in a position where you are unable to respond to your dog's presentation, maybe you have visitors or just don't feel like playing and your rejection will leave him utterly confused.
There's an old saying which states there is a time and place for everything. That saying is also relevant to dogs and their toys. If your dog is in the habit of bringing toys to your feet and leaving them there, he could do it at an inopportune moment and unwittingly cause you harm. You might be busy cooking in the kitchen, not notice the toy at your feet, turn and trip over it. Add a pan of hot food to that scenario and with one simple gesture, your dog has turned what was a safe environment into a potential danger zone for the two of you.
Other Solutions and Considerations
If your dog is constantly bringing toys to your feet, you might want to reconsider his exercise routine. If you take him for a walk more frequently, he'll be less bored and hopefully have used up some of his excess mental energy which may well give you the chance to read your newspaper in peace. You could even consider enrolling him in some activities like dog agility classes with a qualified dog handler. That'll take his mind off giving you his toys.
Dogs can become fixated on presenting you with inanimate objects, it doesn't necessarily have to be a toy. They may well push the toy between you and your partner when you're having a quiet snuggle on the sofa which can become intrusive. If your dog seems to be obsessed with the idea of gifting you his chewed and mangled teddy when you'd rather have a kiss and cuddle with your other half, you may want to consider consulting a vet or professional dog handler to assist you with his jealousy inspired, obsessive compulsive behaviour.
Dogs do like to bring their toys to your feet, it's true. Whether he's presenting you with an offering or asking you to play, only he knows the true answer to that. If you're really just not in the mood for accepting any more gifts, you could always give him some string and brown paper, get him to wrap it in a parcel and ask him to mail it to you instead.