If you have a Golden Retriever, you have likely seen your Golden gently carrying things like toys and other fun items in his mouth. Your Golden may just hold it or may show them to you. There are good reasons for this “odd” behavior, and it is perfectly normal for your Golden to do it.
Golden Retrievers were Bred to Retrieve
As the dog breed name suggests, golden retrievers were bred to retrieve. Golden retrievers were bred to be gentle carriers and to retrieve waterfowl without injuring the captured bird for their hunting owners.
This “retrieving” behavioral trait still carries over into their characteristics today. Also, this specific skill is referred to as being “soft-mouthed,” which is a common trait among many other breeds such as spaniels, and even poodles.
5 Reasons Why Your Dog Might Hold Things in their Mouth
Though golden retrievers are trained to hold and retrieve birds, there could be many other reasons for your golden’s behavior, one of which is teething.
A golden retriever puppy loses their baby teeth and goes through the teething process similar to human babies, and the pain resulting from incoming teeth.
If your golden is transitioning from its puppy phase, he is likely experiencing this uncomfortable reality. Much like how babies enjoy the relief of teething rings, your golden could be holding and chewing a toy, or other items to relieve his tooth eruption pain.
This behavior could also be a result of anxiety. If you notice this behavior increasing when you are getting ready to leave or have been gone for a while, your golden may be suffering from separation anxiety.
Holding an object could also be compared to a “security blanket,” which is similar to what people use when they are stressed or anxious.
Your golden may be holding a toy for comfort to release energy that may be causing additional anxiety. If your golden is being left in the house with no exercise for long periods, then it will definitely take a toll on their mental state and cause an increase in anxiety.
If you notice this behavior worsening when you leave with symptoms of pacing, depression, and destructive behavior, it is advisable to set up an appointment with your vet to discuss possible changes to help relieve your Golden Retriever’s anxiety.
These behaviors could start to branch into more forms of destruction or negative mental states for your dog. Goldens need enough exercise to release energy and maintain their overall health. Changes in how they hold their toy may indicate repetitive behavior, which could be a new sign of anxiety developing.
Although Golden Retrievers are a family-friendly and generally non-aggressive breed, signs of possessiveness over objects can lead to them being claimed as their own.
If your golden has been carrying around the same toy or food bowl, this could be due to possessiveness. This behavior is usually rare in this breed and is likely the result of a traumatic upbringing or negative training.
The golden retriever is bred to have a gentle temperament and be hard-working. Aggression usually comes from bad experiences, but it can be trained out of your dog with some hard work and love. If your golden exhibits behaviors, along with the holding of an object, such as growling, fur standing on end, or other standoffish body language, then it is a good sign that they are trying to tell you to leave them alone.
While possessiveness may not always be paired with these more aggressive behaviors, your dog may show possessiveness by just refusing to give you the object. While this is frustrating, this is just your golden’s way of telling you, “Hey, I like this thing, I am keeping it”. If you know your dog, you can deal with the situation by observing its body language. Consistent displays of aggressive behavior and hoarding of objects may make it beneficial to look into obedience training to try and curb these aggressions.
Your golden may be holding a toy in its mouth to get your attention. To them, this toy is associated with play and they are enticing you to play. For example, if your dog walks up to you with a known fetch ball in their mouth, then they are likely asking you to play fetch with them. Negative attention-seeking behaviors include your dog picking up socks, shoes, or other items they know not to mess with and carrying them around with them.
Displaying bad behavior will surely get you to pay attention to them, which is their ultimate goal. Signs of bad behavior could be due to separation anxiety, a need for your attention, or a lack of exercise. If your dog has been holding a ball and unsubtly nudging you for the past few minutes, go have some fun with your dog and let them burn off some of its boundless energy.
5. To Give Something to You
Since Golden Retrievers were bred to bring in the waterfowl their owners hunted, they could be exhibiting the behavior of holding their toys in an attempt to give you something.
Golden retrievers also love bringing you their favorite toys because they associate them with love and shared attention. A slobbery ball may not seem like much, but your golden’s favorite toy is meaningful because that is how they show their love.
Holding things in their mouth is a normal trait for a golden retriever
For a Golden Retriever, I can assure you a toy in their mouth is common and normal. Your golden is just trying to have fun with you.
For a golden puppy, teething is common. You can help them with teething-specific toys.
Golden retrievers were bred to bring their owners things while being very gentle, so they still do this today. Your Golden Retriever was bred to please and to retrieve, so if you are met with your dog staring at you with an object or toy, then it’s a good sign to get up and play.