If your dog keeps taking its toys outside, you might be wondering why and what you can do about it. This post will show you four common reasons why dogs do it and what you can do to get it to stop.
So, why does my dog take its toys outside? Possible reasons why your dog takes its toys outside are possessiveness, nature, not wanting to be bothered with them, or having learned that the behavior is rewarded.
It is 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 takes its toys outside
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 reason could be that it is being possessive which is where it does not want other people or animals going near its possessions. This would be more likely if your dog also has other possessive tendencies such as by guarding its food when eating or protecting its spot on the sofa.
The reason why your dog does it is likely to be that it is in its nature to do it (source). When its ancestors would catch food they would sometimes stash the food away since it would allow them to have food available to them if they were unable to find any more. This is a trait that dogs still have today and it could be why your dog hides its treats and toys.
Encouraging the behavior
It might also be the case that it has learned that the behavior gets rewarded. If you tend to give it things such as more toys, treats or attention, when it takes its toys outside, it will likely do it more in order to get more rewards.
It doesn’t want to be bothered
Another cause could be that it wants to play with its toys without being bothered. This would be more likely if it tends to do it more when there is another animal around that might take its toys.
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 your dog first started taking its toys outside
If your dog did not always do it, it would help to consider what else happened when it first started. If it started doing it suddenly, it could be due to things such as learning that the behavior gets rewarded or something causing it to start being possessive.
What is different when it does it
It would also help to consider if there is a certain time that it tends to do it more. For example, if it tends to do it when there are other animals around, it could be the case that it does it because it does not want the other animals to take its toys.
The body language it shows
It would also help to consider the body language it shows when it does it. If it starts showing signs of aggression, when you go near it, with its toys, it would be more likely that it does it because it is being possessive. Whereas, if it is relaxed, it would be more likely that it does it naturally.
What to do about your dog taking its toys outside
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 it gets rewards when it takes its toys outside. Instead, it would help to avoid giving it rewards when it does it and to only reward it when it behaves the way you want it to.
Limit its ability to dig
Another thing you can do is to make it harder for your dog to dig holes to put its bones in. You could do this by sectioning off parts of the backyard where it is easier for it to dig. Another option would be to cover the area that it tends to dig with rocks.
It is not uncommon for dogs to take their toys outside. As long as it is not showing signs of being possessive, ill or anxious you could allow it to do it if you want to.