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Why do spaniels carry things? Discover the reasons why

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Anyone that has ever been around any spaniel breed for long enough will have noted that they love to carry things around.

Everything from shoes and slippers, through to books and the TV remote, and many more things, seem to be favourites for spaniels – as well as tennis balls and dog toys.

But why do spaniels carry things? Let’s look at some reasons why.

All spaniels were, at some point in their history, bred for hunting and retrieving shot game. The instinct to retrieve and carry things around is high in most spaniels, particularly those bred from working dogs. Simply put, it is normal behaviour for a spaniel to pick things up and to carry them around and, if you are looking to train your spaniel for work then this is a positive trait that you should encourage.

why do spaniels carry things

Why do spaniels carry shoes and slippers around?

Shoes and slipper seem to be favourite items for spaniels to steal and carry off, along with socks – which seem to become more desirable the more smelly they are.

The love of footwear related items does seem strange but is very common and it’s probably got a lot to do with smell and a spaniel’s sense of smell.

Often your spaniel will carry your things as they smell of you and remind him of you, particularly if you are not around and have left him alone in the house. You will frequently find your shoes and slippers in your dog’s bed or his favourite place for hiding his ‘treasure’.

why do spaniels carry things

Why does my spaniel carry things to me when I come home?

Your spaniel will be pleased to see you when you return home and he has been without your company.

He will often display his pleasure at your return by bringing you something. This action is instinctive for your dog and, it is thought that it goes back to his instinct to retrieve items when hunting.

It is also because he is simply pleased that you are back and the action of bringing you a ‘present’ is his way of displaying pleasure at your return.

Why does my spaniel cry when he carries things?

You may notice that your spaniel sometimes cries when he carries things around. Often this will be something like a ball or toy that he brings to you.

The common reason for a spaniel to cry when he carries things is due to excitement as he often wants to play. If he brings the toy to you and makes noises then he is probably seeking attention and would like to burn off some energy in the form of a game.

In female dogs crying can occur during periods of ‘false pregnancy‘ when the dog acts as though she has puppies – thankfully this is a rare occurence in spaniels.

Why does my spaniel carry things and hide them in his bed?

One of my Cocker spaniels regularly takes things and hides them in his bed and other favourite hiding place.

It’s quite common to find shoes, slippers and other items in his ‘hiding place’ and this is one of the first areas that we check whenever something ‘disappears’.

If you have a spaniel that carries things away to his bed then it is nothing to be concerned about. The items will smell of you and will remind and reassure him of your presence whenever you are not around, and he will get comfort from them.

There is also the prospect that your spaniel is seeking attention and that by running off with your stuff to his bed, he is hoping that you will spend some time with him.

Take him for a walk or play some games if his acquisition of your belongings is becoming a problem.


Spaniels carry things around because it is instinctive behaviour that has been developed over generations of breeding.

If you have things that you don’t want your spaniel to carry around then you simply need to remove them and put them somewhere out of reach.

If you do leave your Jimmy Choos lying around then don’t be surprised if your spaniel picks them up, he’s a dog, it’s what they do.

Last update on 2022-12-08 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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