Skip to Content

Why Do Dogs Hold Things In Their Mouth


Dogs are known for their playful and sometimes peculiar behavior, including holding things in their mouth. Whether it’s a favorite toy, a stick from the park, or even their own leash, dogs seem to have a natural inclination to carry objects in their mouths. But why do they do it? What drives this behavior, and is it something to be concerned about? In this article, we will explore the reasons behind why dogs hold things in their mouth, as well as address common concerns and provide answers to help better understand our furry companions.

One of the most common reasons why dogs hold things in their mouth is simply for play. Just like humans enjoy playing with toys, dogs also find joy in carrying objects around and engaging in playful activities. This behavior is often seen in puppies as they explore the world around them and learn about their environment through their senses, including taste and touch.

According to a canine behavior specialist, “Dogs hold things in their mouth as a way to engage in play and satisfy their natural instincts. It’s a form of entertainment for them, much like how we enjoy playing games or watching movies for fun.”

Another reason why dogs hold things in their mouth is for comfort and security. Just like how a child may hold onto a security blanket or stuffed animal, dogs may use objects in their mouth as a source of comfort and reassurance. This behavior is often seen in dogs who have separation anxiety or are feeling stressed or anxious in certain situations.

A veterinarian adds, “Dogs may hold things in their mouth as a way to self-soothe and calm themselves down. It can provide a sense of security and familiarity, especially in stressful or unfamiliar environments.”

In addition to play and comfort, dogs may also hold things in their mouth as a form of communication. By carrying objects around, dogs may be sending signals to other animals or humans, indicating their mood, intentions, or simply trying to get attention. This behavior is often seen in social breeds who are more vocal and expressive in their interactions with others.

A dog trainer explains, “Dogs are naturally social animals and use body language and vocalizations to communicate with each other. Holding objects in their mouth can be a way for them to communicate their needs or emotions, such as excitement, frustration, or even a desire to play.”

Interestingly, some dogs may also hold things in their mouth as a way to explore and investigate their surroundings. By picking up objects and carrying them around, dogs can gather information about their environment, including scent, texture, and taste. This behavior is often seen in hunting or working breeds who have a strong sense of curiosity and a desire to explore their surroundings.

A behavior consultant shares, “Dogs use their mouth as a tool to gather information about the world around them. By holding objects in their mouth, they can gather scent cues, taste different textures, and explore their environment in a hands-on way.”

While holding things in their mouth is a natural behavior for dogs, there are some common concerns that pet owners may have regarding this behavior. Here are 15 common concerns and answers related to why dogs hold things in their mouth:

1. Is it safe for my dog to hold objects in their mouth?

Yes, it is generally safe for dogs to hold objects in their mouth, as long as the objects are not harmful or toxic. It’s important to monitor your dog’s behavior and make sure they are not chewing on anything that could pose a choking hazard or cause injury.

2. Why does my dog chew on objects instead of just holding them?

Chewing is a natural behavior for dogs and can be a way for them to relieve stress, boredom, or teething discomfort. If your dog is chewing on objects excessively, it may be a sign that they need more mental and physical stimulation.

3. How can I prevent my dog from chewing on inappropriate objects?

Provide your dog with plenty of chew toys and interactive games to keep them entertained and mentally stimulated. You can also use positive reinforcement training to redirect their chewing behavior onto appropriate items.

4. My dog carries around rocks and sticks, is this dangerous?

Carrying around rocks and sticks can be dangerous if your dog chews on them and swallows small pieces. It’s best to discourage this behavior and provide your dog with safe and appropriate toys to carry around instead.

5. Why does my dog carry around their leash or collar?

Carrying around their leash or collar may be a way for your dog to signal that they are ready for a walk or playtime. It can also be a form of comfort and familiarity, especially if they associate these items with positive experiences.

6. Is it normal for my dog to carry around their food or treats?

Some dogs may carry around their food or treats as a way to save them for later or as a form of resource guarding. It’s important to monitor this behavior and make sure your dog is not hoarding food or treats excessively.

7. Why does my dog carry around their toys and hide them?

Dogs may carry around their toys and hide them as a way to protect their belongings or as a form of play. This behavior is often seen in dogs who enjoy playing games like hide and seek or who have a strong prey drive.

8. My dog carries around socks and shoes, how can I stop this behavior?

Carrying around socks and shoes can be a sign of boredom or a desire for attention. Make sure your dog has plenty of toys and activities to keep them entertained, and provide positive reinforcement when they engage in appropriate behaviors.

9. Why does my dog carry around their bed or blanket?

Carrying around their bed or blanket may be a way for your dog to create a comfortable and familiar space wherever they go. It can be a form of security and reassurance, especially in new or unfamiliar environments.

10. Is it normal for my dog to carry around other animals’ toys or belongings?

Dogs may carry around other animals’ toys or belongings as a way to explore new scents and textures or as a form of play. It’s important to supervise this behavior and make sure your dog is not causing any conflicts with other pets.

11. Why does my dog growl or bark when carrying objects in their mouth?

Growling or barking when carrying objects in their mouth may be a sign of possessiveness or resource guarding. It’s important to address this behavior with positive reinforcement training and make sure your dog feels secure and comfortable in sharing their belongings.

12. My dog carries around trash and other dangerous objects, what should I do?

If your dog is carrying around trash or dangerous objects, it’s important to intervene and remove the items from their mouth immediately. Make sure your home is pet-proofed and free of any potential hazards that could harm your dog.

13. Why does my dog carry around sticks and stones from outside?

Carrying around sticks and stones from outside is a common behavior for dogs who enjoy exploring nature and gathering items from their environment. It’s important to monitor this behavior and make sure your dog is not ingesting anything harmful or toxic.

14. How can I encourage my dog to carry around appropriate objects?

Provide your dog with a variety of safe and engaging toys that are suitable for carrying around, such as plush toys, rubber balls, or chew sticks. Use positive reinforcement training to reward your dog for carrying around these items and engaging in appropriate behaviors.

15. Is it okay for my dog to carry around multiple objects at once?

Some dogs may enjoy carrying around multiple objects at once as a way to challenge themselves and engage in play. It’s important to monitor this behavior and make sure your dog is not overwhelmed or stressed by carrying too many items at once.

In summary, dogs hold things in their mouth for a variety of reasons, including play, comfort, communication, and exploration. This behavior is a natural part of being a dog and can provide mental stimulation and entertainment for our furry companions. By understanding the reasons behind why dogs hold things in their mouth and addressing common concerns, pet owners can better support their dogs and ensure they are happy, healthy, and fulfilled in their everyday lives. So the next time you see your dog carrying around their favorite toy or object, remember that it’s all a part of their natural instincts and behaviors as a canine companion.