If your dog has been carrying things in its mouth a lot, you might be wondering why and what you can do about it. This post will show you five common reasons why dogs do it and what you can do to get it to stop.
So, why does my dog always carry something in its mouth? Possible reasons why your dog always carries things in its mouth are teething, anxiety, bringing it to you as a present, possessiveness or liking the smell.
Your dog could actually be doing it for multiple reasons and it might be due to a combination of them. However, there are some things you can consider when figuring out the main causes and there are many things you can do about them.
Reasons why your dog carries things in its mouth
Below are a number of possible reasons why your dog has been doing it and what would make each of them more likely to be the main reason.
The cause could be that it has started teething. This would be more likely if your dog is still young, it has started doing it suddenly and if it has started chewing on other things as well. In this case, it would help to give it other things to chew on such as bones or toys and to try to hide things that you do not want to be picked up.
Often dogs will carry things around, with their mouths, when they are anxious. Anxiety could be the reason why your dog has been doing it. This would be more likely if it tends to do it more when it is more likely to be anxious such as when you are leaving home.
It is bringing it to you as a present
The cause might also be that it is giving them to you as a present. This would be more likely if it tends to bring the thing its holding to you. Again, in this case, it would help to avoid rewarding the behavior and to limit its access to things that you do not want it to carry.
Encouraging the behavior
It could also be the case that your dog has learned that the behavior gets rewarded. If you tend to give it things such as treats, toys or extra attention, when it picks things up, it will likely do it more in order to get more rewards.
The cause might also be that it is being possessive. This would be more likely if it tends to carry things such as its toys and bones and if it becomes aggressive when you go near it.
It likes the smell
The cause might also be that that it likes the smell of the thing that it is picking up. This would be more likely if it tends to pick up things that have a strong smell on such as your clothes or shoes.
Things to consider
Below are some things to consider when figuring out the main reason why your dog has been doing it.
What else happened when it first started doing it
If your dog did not always carry things a lot, it would help to consider what else happened when it first started doing it. If it started doing it suddenly, it would be more likely to be due to things such as teething, learning that the behavior is rewarded or separation anxiety.
What is different when your dog carries things in its mouth
If it tends to carry things more at a certain time, it would also help to consider if there is anything unusual about the timing. For example, if it tends to do it more when you are about to leave home, it would be more likely that it is anxious. Whereas, if it tends to do it more when you arrive home, it would be more likely that it is bringing it to you as a present.
What to do about your dog carrying things in its mouth
Below are some options you have when dealing with the behavior.
Avoid encouraging it
As mentioned above, it might be the case that it has learned that the behavior is rewarded. Instead, it would help to avoid rewarding it when it carries things in its mouth and to reward it when it is behaving the way you want it to.
Limit reasons why it might be anxious
It could also be the case that something has been causing it to be anxious. It would help to limit possible reasons why it might be anxious by letting it pee, eat and get exercise before leaving it.
Give it other things to hold
Another option would be to give it things to carry that you don’t mind it carrying. Things to give it could include toys or a bone.
Redirect its focus
Another option would be to redirect its focus towards something else whenever it seems likely to pick something up. By doing so repeatedly, you should be able to get it out of the habit of picking up things that you do not want it to.
If your dog has been doing it excessively or you cannot get it to stop, consider getting help from a dog behaviorist. By doing so, you should be able to see what has been causing the behavior and what you can do about it.