A dog owner has revealed the adorable reason why they think their dog likes to pick up her toys and parade them around the room.
However, a leading pet behavior expert believes there could be something more complex going on in their canine friend’s head than they initially thought.
When it comes to toys, dogs are not all that different from children. Despite having any number of weird and wonderful toys, both will often crave and pursue new and exciting ones.
In a 2020 study published in Animal Cognition, a group of 17 dogs were presented with a line-up of three toys. Two of the toys were familiar to them while one was an entirely new, novel object.
Researchers found that in 38 of the 50 tests conducted, dogs opted for the new toy over the other familiar ones. Dogs can be like kids when it comes to toys in other ways, as Charli the whippet labrador or “whipador” demonstrates.
In a video posted to TikTok by her owner, writing under the handle Charli_Puppydog, the happy-go-lucky canine can be seen parading one of his toys around the house, showing it off to her human and their guests.
“When your dog’s toxic trait is thinking she’s always the main character,” an onscreen caption jokes. Charli’s behavior isn’t all that dissimilar to the kind of thing a young child might do when their parents have guests over: try to be the center of attention by showing off a particular toy.
Charli’s owner has their own theory on why she likes to parade around in this way and it’s a super cute one. “She’s just so proud of all her toys that she just loves to showcase them,” they said. “She also loves a good chase, so she’s probably half expecting us to run after her!”
The whipador is something of a celebrity on TikTok, where her owner regularly posts video updates of her antics. This particular video has already been watched over 500,000 times, with fans quick to comment on Charli’s hijinks.
For many, the behavior was very relatable. “Mine does this with every sock she finds,” one dog owner commented with another writing: “My oldest dog does this.”
But what does it actually mean? To find out, Newsweek enlisted the help of Susan Nilson, a professionally accredited cat and dog training and behavior expert.
She told Newsweek Charli appeared to be walking “calmly” and was holding the soft toy “gently” which suggested she was in a largely happy state.
“Her tail is loosely swishing side to side at a medium height, which indicates that she is feeling pretty calm and relaxed,” Nilson said. “A high tail carriage often indicates a state of high emotional arousal, while a low or tucked tail usually indicates fear or anxiety, so this looks to be somewhere in between.”
She did, however, note that Charli’s ears were back which “may be because she is carrying the toy, but could also indicate some slight discomfort or anxiety.”
Though Charli is happy and settled in a forever home now, that anxiety could well be traced back to the traumatic start she had in life.
“We got her as a puppy but had to rush her to the emergency vets the second night we had her as she had parvo,” her owner explained. “The vets gave her 50/50 chance of surviving, but she pulled through and is now the big strong doggy you see in our vids!”
Despite that small potential hint at a trauma once lived, Nilson is keen to stress that Charli appears to be a very happy pup. “Overall, her body posture is quite relaxed, and her entire behavior is relatively low-key and mellow.”
Nilson added that there could be more straightforward reasons as to why she likes to carry her toys in that way. “Some dogs, especially those bred for hunting or retrieving, have a strong instinct to carry objects in their mouths so that could be a factor here,” she said. “It’s also quite common for dogs to carry toys in their mouths as a form of comfort or security, similar to how a child might hold a security blanket or stuffed animal.”
Regardless of what the source of her parading may be, Charli is into way more than just carrying her toys around. “Her favorite thing is chasing a frisbee on her walks,” her owner said. “She also loves eating, getting zoomies, parading her toys about and meeting people. She gets so excited that she can’t control her bum wiggles as she runs over to say hi.”
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