Why Do Dogs Do This?

Why Do Dogs Do This?

It’s been a joy writing my “Dog Collar Round-Up”, finally putting in print my answers to one of the most common questions I get from dog owners:  “What kind of collar should I use?” But I’m glad to be done with the list because so many other things have built up that I can’t wait to blog about!

Tennis Balls in Mud

Mmm … tennis-ball soup! 

I’ll start off with a new question for you:

Why do dogs drop tennis balls, Kongs, Cuz’s, and other toys into water bowls and puddles?

Don’t know what I’m talking about? Here’s a pic from my recent visit to the dog park: 

Yeah yeah, gross … I know. C’mon, they’re dogs! My question is “Why?”

Is it to give the balls a wash? That’s certainly the most common description of the behavior that I hear tossed around at dog parks.

Dog Toy in Puddle

Monkey dips it, but never lets it go

Maybe – but they certainly don’t seem to mind using water that’s less than sparkling clean! Also, they don’t swish the balls around, but most often just drop them in and then either hover over them, plucking them out when any other dog comes near, or just trot away and leave them there to soak.

Could it be a remnant of food-preparation behavior, behavior designed to soak and soften food before eating it?

I know my dogs prefer their kibble soaked in a splash of water, adding a sort of gravy to their meal. However I doubt this, because dogs descended from carnivores – wolves – and I’ve never heard of soaking meat as a means of preparing it to eat.

Dog Toys in Puddles

Turtle seems proud of his achievement.

A theory that makes a more sense to me is that they are doing what is called “caching”. Non-domesticated animals such as cheetahs, squirrels, and wolves cache the remains of their meal after they’ve eater their fill, normally by burying it or stashing it in a tree. Caching a slab of meat underwater could serve two simultaneous purposes: if the water is cold, it could preserve the meat for a short period of time by acting as a makeshift refrigerator; and at the same time it could hide the scent of the meat, keeping it from being tracked and eaten by nearby prey. This explanation makes more sense of the way dogs at dog parks hover over the water bowl after dropping the ingredients into their soup.

I’m hoping that using the scientific technical terminology will make my theory sound more legit. :)

Anyone have any other ideas or thoughts?

Or at least a dry towel I can borrow?

Published On: May 29th, 2012Categories: YelpTags: , , , , , , , , ,


  1. Joy Artiglio July 1 at 9:44 AM

    My Queensland Heeler, Bambi, puts her toys (balls actually, because that is the only toy she will play with and not tear to pieces) into her food dish. It is so odd. She eats dry food so that isn’t a problem but we just can’t figure out why she does this.

  2. Linda April 12 at 12:08 PM

    I have two dogs(same breed but not related),one puts the toys in the water bowl and stands next to hit. The other dog has never done that and has no interest except for playing with the toy.

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