Have you just arrived home and your dog has brought you one of your shoes? Dogs do seem to have a special liking for shoes, don't they? Shoes are one of the things dogs like to pick up and bring to you, even when you are already wearing some. Have you noticed how when you are contemplating having a quiet half an hour sitting and reading in your chair, your dog will disappear and then reappear with a shoe in his mouth? Is it his way of trying to transmit a message to you? Though it probably appears that he might be, it can be hard to be certain.
So why do dogs bring you your shoes?
The Root of the Behavior
It's a natural trait for a dog to pick things up and carry them. Even back in the days when they were wild, they would take things back to their lairs to share with the rest of the pack. In his own sweet way, your dog is bringing you a shoe to share. The fact that it already belongs to you is something which won't have entered his head. If your dog greeted you at the door with your shoe in his mouth, it could well be he was using it as a comforter while you were out and hadn't just picked it up the moment he heard your key go in the lock. As unpleasant a notion as it might seem, your dog can smell you on that shoe. Getting a whiff of your personal odor will make you feel close and he'll miss you less while you're gone. If you have a foot odor problem, he's probably been sleeping with his nose in your shoe. For our four-legged friends, there really is nothing better than being able to capture the bouquet of their owner's sweaty feet in their nostrils. It is on par with us spending the day at the perfume counter in the department store and sniffing at the most expensive brands.
Does your dog bring you a shoe every single time you arrive home no matter what hour of the day or night it is? If he does, he may well be reacting to your behavior when he does. If, when you see him bring the shoe, you ask him what he's got there or say, "what a clever boy, you've brought me my shoe." He's going to love the proud tone of your voice and just lap up all the attention you're giving him. He wants that to happen every time you come home, so if you praise your dog when he brings you your shoe, be prepared to be greeted by an ever-growing shoe collection.
Encouraging the Behavior
There's really nothing wrong with your dog bringing you your shoes. What you might find inconvenient is if he leaves teeth marks in the leather or drools on your insoles. It could get worse and if you arrive home later than normal and your dog gets bored waiting for you, he may well decide to have a good old chew on your shoe. That is an occurrence which won't strengthen owner/pet relations and will also mean you'll need to foot the expense of purchasing new ones. Your dog wants to be the sole center of your attention when you've just got in from work can become tiresome, especially when you've had a long day. It may be that he's just exceptionally clever and is bringing you the shoes you use to take him for a walk and he's living in hope you'll get the message and take him out. It may be he's thrusting them at you to make sure you focus on him because he's been on his own and has been suffering from separation anxiety while you were away.
Let's look at it from a different angle. If your dog is bringing you your shoes and you don't really want him to keep picking them up because they're getting damaged, maybe you should try putting them somewhere he doesn't have access to them. If you didn't leave your shoes where your dog could easily pick them up, he wouldn't be able to. So lock them in a closet or put them in your bedroom and close the door. You'll soon find your dog will swap from bringing you your shoes to presenting you with one of his toys instead.
Other Solutions and Considerations
If your dog seems to be obsessed with bringing you your shoes, you might want to consider he's suffering from an obsessive-compulsive disorder. If you think that your dog has this problem, the best thing to do is consult with a vet or qualified dog trainer who will be able to advise you how to deal with his problem. If you feel your dog may be suffering from separation anxiety, the best thing to do is consult with a professional dog handler. They will be able to advise you on the correct techniques to use to save your puppy from the stress of you leaving him when you go out.
A lot of dogs just love to bring humans their shoes. It is quite a natural thing for them to do. As long as they are not damaging them in the process, there is really no harm in it. In fact, if he is more clever than most and brings you a pair, you might want to consider getting him a job as a butler.