Does your pooch pace and whine with a toy in their mouth?
Or do they come to you wailing and carrying their ball?
This behavior may leave you puzzled every time.
And you feel bad because you can’t seem to figure out what they want.
So why do they do this?
In this article, you’ll learn:
- What makes your dog whine with a toy in their mouth.
- Whether they can be attached to specific objects or not.
- 7 helpful tips on what you should do about this unusual ‘crying’ behavior.
- 3 different scenarios of them acting like this on new, squeaky, or certain toys.
- And many more…
Table of contents
Why does my dog cry when carrying toys?
Your dog cries when carrying toys because they are so excited, see them as high-value items, want to bury them but can’t find a good spot, have hunting instincts, or are naturally vocal. They may also do it if they want to play or be noticed. And if they’re female, it might be a false pregnancy.
9 reasons why your dog cries when carrying toys
#1: False pregnancy
Your dog is carrying around a toy whining. So you may think they want to play.
But when you throw it for a fetch. They run after it desperately. Looking so worried and whining even more.
If your pooch is an unspayed female, it could be that they’re having a false pregnancy. And they developed a motherly love for their toy.
This is why they’re carrying it like a newborn pup. Like a mom holding one of their litter by the scruff.
And your Fido is whining because they can’t find a safe place to nest.
“But what makes them think it’s their child?”
Wonder how they can attend to their pups without enrolling in a class about child-rearing? Or learning it in a book like us?
Part of it is because they’ve seen it when they’re young. Or as they grow up.
It’s mainly because of the hormones. And these are produced when they’re in heat. One of them is ‘prolactin.’ An increased level of it is responsible for their maternal instinct.
These hormones prepare them for a possible pregnancy. But if their eggs aren’t fertilized, dogs may have a ‘phantom’ pregnancy.
And this usually happens after 4 to 9 weeks after heat.
Research shows that vets observed behavioral signs within 12 months in 96% of false pregnancy cases.
And the two most common are:
- Nesting behavior.
- Collecting and mothering objects.
So going back to the topic. (Hope you enjoyed the short science class!)
This is why you might see your pooch placing their toys near them. Particularly by their nipples or chest area. As they would have the urge to nurse them like real babies.
Apart from the mentioned signs, VCA says they may also show:
- Loss of appetite.
- Signs of false labor.
- Repeated vomiting.
- Protective of small objects.
- Enlargement of the mammary gland.
Warning: Even canines who have false pregnancy can become aggressive. So be careful when touching their toys. This is due to a reduced level of progesterone which is supposed to calm them.
What should I do?
There’s usually no treatment for this. And don’t fret, as it’ll only last for around 7 to 21 days.
But if your dog shows more serious signs, consult a vet. He or she may give them medication to lessen anxiety. As well as milk production.
If they feel discomfort with their bigger mammary gland, experts say cold and warm compresses can help. Apply each on the affected parts alternately.
Also, they strongly suggest not to milk them as it’ll trigger the production more.
Note: Female dogs who are spayed are reported never to act this way again. So you may also consider it for your Fido if you don’t intend to breed them.
#2: Your dog is overly excited
You gave your pooch a toy. And you expect them to play with it. Or destroy it like they used to.
But much to your surprise, they acted differently. So now you might be wondering, “Why is my dog carrying a toy in their mouth and whining?”
Relax. It’s not that they hate it. Actually, they love it so much that they don’t know what to do with it! 🙂
Seeing them running around like crazy would be such an interesting (and cute) sight.
And it’s usually a mix of a ‘cry of joy’ and an internal conflict of:
“Should I bury or hide this?”
“Maybe I should just play with it?”
Sometimes, Fidos just can’t contain their excitement. So aside from toys, they can also carry random things like a whole loaf of bread, blankets, and even their bed.
Does your dog often act crazy like this? Check out this article.
#3: They’re high-value items
Do you have things of great value, and you’re waiting for the right time to use them?
We all have one (or a few). And if you see your dog crying with a toy in their mouth, they might feel the same way.
Your Fido may find the stuff you gave them so valuable. So they don’t want to use it right away. Or they become ecstatic about it.
You’ll also notice them wandering around. Looking for a perfect spot for safekeeping. And if they’re having a hard time finding it, they’ll whine.
What items will dogs see of great value?
These things will depend on every canine.
But usually, it can be a treat like bully sticks. As well as a nice chewy bone or any toy similar to it.
Note: Your pooch will stop once they have finally decided where to hide it. Or if they settle down and choose to chew on or play with it instead.
#4: Your dog is anxious and stressed
As mentioned before, dogs may feel the need to hide their ‘treasured’ item. And your Fido will be anxious if they can’t find a good place for it.
Or they might be having a dilemma.
They know they have to do something, but your pooch couldn’t figure it out as they haven’t seen any canines burying a toy.
But wait, do you have other dogs or pets in the house?
If so, your pooch could be even more stressed out if they can’t bury their precious item. Your pooch may be thinking, “Oh no. What to do?! Others can see this and steal my toy away!”
So they’ll whine, pace, and run around frantically, searching for the right place.
Warning: This behavior isn’t usually alarming. But it could be once they start protecting their food and other things. As it already turned into resource guarding. And they’ll growl and snap at anyone who comes near it.
#5: Hunting instincts
Your pooch whines and carries around their toy so delicately. As if it’s a fragile thing.
Why is that?
It’s because some hunting dogs have a ‘soft mouth.’ And this is observed in gun dogs or bird retrieving breeds such as:
- English Pointers.
- Golden Retrievers.
- Labrador Retrievers.
- English Cocker Spaniels.
Wonder how they do it in the wild?
In hunting, gun dogs will assist hunters in looking for and picking up a ‘game’ – birds.
After shooting one, these canines will remember the exact location where the fowl fell. And they’ll only go for it once they’re given a signal to do so.
If they’re told to do it, they’ll track it down and bring it back safely.
So if your Fido is one of them, they may see the toy as a small bird or animal. This is why they hold it so gently.
Other hunting dogs such as Beagles can also be excited about high-value items. But some breeds like Pomeranians will also have the urge to dig and bury their possessions.
#6: Your dog wants to play
“Hooman, can’t you get what I’m trying to say? *puppy eyes*“
Your pooch doesn’t have any signs of false pregnancy. And they don’t seem anxious at all.
So you’ll probably think, “Why is my dog carrying their toy and crying?”
Hmm. If they sit in front of you while doing this, they only want to play. Your Fido is showing you their new toy. And they’re likely attempting to start a game.
Do they love to fetch?
If so, they could be telling you to throw it. And they’ll whine more if you ignore them.
Interesting fact: Have you heard of their ancestors – wolves playing fetch? Well, one study reveals that they can retrieve a ball from a human even if they weren’t trained to do it. But they had long exposure to humans first before the experiment.
They can also get your attention in other ways: 7 Reasons Why Your Dog Hits You With Its Paw + 3 Tips
#7: Reinforced behavior
How often does your dog act like this?
If it’s frequent and mainly for a play session, this can also be a reinforced behavior.
They’re encouraged. And your Fido learned that they could get your attention by doing this. As well as make you throw the ball for them.
So, as a result, they’ll do it all over again for as long as they’re not stopped.
#8: Your dog is naturally vocal
“I find talking (whining) fun! And so is my new toy.”
This is possible if they also whine or talk in other situations. And not only particularly when they carry their stuff around. So you can see that they’re just having fun.
When they’re happy, they may even create the weirdest (but the cutest!) noises.
So, be at ease. This ‘chatty’ behavior is completely normal and safe. But only if your dog doesn’t seem in pain. Or they aren’t bothered by anything.
Check out also: 17 Reasons Why Your Dog Is So Vocal + 5 Tips To Stop It
#9: Dental issues
“My Fido is a quiet one, and they haven’t done anything like this before.
What could be the reason?”
If it seems like the things above don’t fit your situation, it might be a dental issue.
Do they also mouth in other soft things?
If so, it can be due to toothache or swelling gums. So your dog is crying with a toy in their mouth as they’re trying to relieve the pain.
Based on experts, other signs you need to watch out for are:
- Chewing slower.
- Excessive drooling.
- Pawing their mouth.
- Swelling of the muzzle.
- Dropping food while chewing.
- Reduced interest in dry and hard foods.
Note: One way to verify this problem is by going to the vet for an oral health assessment. If they show any of the symptoms, your dog needs medication for pain relief, so have them checked asap.
What to do about it
Most of the time, this is harmless behavior. An adorable one, I must say.
It’s mainly out of excitement or instincts. So there’s nothing much you should do.
But if they…
Love a particular toy: Buy many of them. This is because you may not find it again elsewhere. So have some stock just in case.
Like to bury their stuff: Help them by giving them a blanket to hide their toys. They’ll appreciate it.
Wish to play: Thank them first for bringing their toy. Then throw it and start a game.
However, their mothering and whining behavior can also be excessive.
So if they become…
Too protective/stressed: Distract them with a yummy treat that they rarely eat. Then pick up their toy. Be extra careful as they can be aggressive.
Noisy: Either help them with their burying dilemma. Or give them interactive toys instead, such as Kongs filled with treats. To make them settle down and be busy.
Demanding: If they do this primarily for attention, try ignoring them for a while. Then reward them once they stay quiet.
Remember, when this goes out of hand, ask for a behaviorist or trainer’s help to get rid of the ‘resource guarding’ issue. And if they show signs of an illness, visit your vet at once.
3 scenarios of dogs crying when carrying toys
#1: Dog cries with a new toy
If your dog whines when carrying their new toy…
It’s likely out of joy. Or they consider it as something of high value.
They might have fallen in love with it, and they don’t know what to do next.
It’s like someone who has found a treasure chest. Or one who hits the jackpot in the lottery. And panics about what to do with something of great worth.
Whether they should:
- Dig and bury it to keep it safe.
- Or use and play with it like usual.
Their whining can be due to frustration as well. As your Fido wants to hide their ‘treasure’ but they couldn’t find the perfect spot for it.
So you may notice that they pace a lot and roam while holding their new toy.
Also, they might be showing it off to you because they want to play with it.
#2: Dog cries with a squeaky toy
Your pooch charges and pushes their squeaky ball.
Then right after it, they whimper and nose it.
“What’s happening with them?
Do the high-pitched sounds hurt their ears?”
Well, nope. So don’t worry.
Your dog might be whining with a squeaky toy because it sounds like a small animal yelping. If they look worried after squishing it, they think they’re hurting it.
On the other hand, gun dogs such as Retrievers can become so excited about it.
Remember, they were bred to pick up birds. And the squeak somehow gives them an impression of a fowl. So their instincts might be kicking in.
However, it could also be their favorite toy if they enjoy playing with it. They’re only whining out of happiness. Like this cute black Lab:
But if we’re talking about a vocal pooch here, your Fido could just be whining with it.
Note: Some canines may also have a phobia with squeaky sounds (and other high-pitched noises). And this is due to a past trauma. So if they run and hide when they hear it, those are obvious signs that they’re scared.
#3: Dog cries with certain toys
If your pooch only does this with specific toys, those might be their favorite ones.
For them, those are of high value. So your dog may carry those things around and bring them to you or some visitors.
“Why do they do this?”
This is because they’re ecstatic at the moment. And they want to show off their toys, or they’re seeking a fun play session.
But, they can also do this if they’re anxious.
A dog carrying toys while crying may be trying to hide their toys instead. And this happens when an unfamiliar person comes into the house.
They’ll panic and become nervous. So they whine (voicing out their stress) if they can’t bury the toy somewhere.
However, if your Fido is an intact female, false pregnancy is possible too.
They’ll have maternal instincts. And this is due to the hormones that are being produced in their body.
This is more likely if they nurse and protect a toy like they would a litter of puppies. And you may notice that they’ll also have enlarged mammary glands. Along with other symptoms listed earlier.