If your dog has been picking things up 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 pick things up? Possible reasons why your dog picks things up are that it is teething and trying to soothe its gums, anxious, it likes the smell, it’s giving them to you as a present, or your dog has learned that the behavior is rewarded.

It is actually possible that there is a combination of causes at play. 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 picks things up

Below are five common causes and what would make each of them more likely to be the main cause. 

Teething

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.

Anxiety

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.

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. 

It likes the smell

The reason why your dog carries things around could be that it likes the smell. This would be more likely if it tends to pick things up that have a strong scent on them such as your shoes or socks. This would also be more likely if it tends to do it more when it is likely to be anxious since the scent might calm it down.

It’s giving 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 it picks up 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 pick up.

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 pick things up, 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 picks things up

It would also help to consider if there is a certain time that your dog does it more. If there is, it might be the case that the timing has something to do with it. For example, if it does it more when you are leaving home, it would make it more likely to be due to separation anxiety.

What to do about your dog picking things up

Below are a number of options you have when getting your dog to stop picking things up that you do not want it to.

Avoid encouraging the behavior

As mentioned above, it could be the case that your dog has learned that the behavior gets rewarded. Instead, it would help to reward it when it behaves the way you want it to and to avoid rewarding it when it does not.

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 pick up that you don’t mind it picking up. Things to give it could include toys or a bone.

Redirect its focus

Another option would be to redirect its focus onto 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.

Get help

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.

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I created and currently manage Pet Dog Owner, the website you can go to when you have questions about your dog's behavior. It is my hope that you find Pet Dog Owner to be a helpful resource. It is also my hope that it will help you to improve your relationship with your dog. You can read more about me and my website here.