Why Do Dogs Carry Sticks? (4 Explanations)

Dogs are known for their playful behavior, and one of the most common activities that they enjoy is carrying sticks. But why do dogs like to carry sticks?

It seems to be a dog trope as old as time, similar to your good boy lifting a leg over fire hydrants.

It turns out there could be a variety of reasons why dogs find this activity so enjoyable. Let’s explore some of the possible explanations as to why dogs like to carry sticks.  Knowing why our best friends do what they do can help improve everyone’s quality of life.

After all, knowing what motivates a dog’s behavior can help us create stronger bonds with them and create a better environment for us and our pooches.

Sticks Are Excellent Toys

For starters, sticks make a great toy.  I mean come on, who among us hasn’t played with a stick?  Sure, us humans usually outgrow it, but that doesn’t mean we didn’t have plenty of fun with them as kids.

Think of all the fun things sticks were to you as a kid. A sword, a magic wand, even a telephone! Your dog probably isn’t as creative with his imagination, but carrying a stick still provides a great outlet for his energy.

And the great thing about these toys?  With so many different types of sticks available, there is something suitable for every canine’s size and play style.

Great For Chewing

Sticks are not only excellent toys, but they also make great chewing material for dogs.  Dogs naturally love to chew on things, and a stick provides them with an ideal opportunity to do just that.

Green sticks are spongy and provide a softer texture that is fun to chew.  But of course, your dog really isn’t that picky.  In his mind, older sticks are also a great option for chewing as they are brittle and tend to break apart easily when chewed on.

Because of their natural composition, chomping on sticks supposedly helps your dog keep his teeth clean.  Of course, there are reasons to not let your dog chew up sticks (see below) and nothing can replace a proper cleaning from the vet.

Some Dog Breeds Like Carrying Things (Anything) In Their Mouths

Certain breeds of dogs like carrying things in their mouths.  This is seen in breeds like retrievers (great waterfowl hunters!) who were bred to retrieve and carry objects, such as birds. 

So if your pup is a retriever or another type that has this natural instinct, he may just be fulfilling his inherited desire for an object in the mouth. 

He doesn’t even have a preference for what specific type of stick – or even care if it is a stick at all – he carries; chances are he’s just happy to have something in his mouth!

A Lot Like A Bone

Dogs love bones because they are fun, tasty, and challenging to chew on, but unfortunately for your dog, bones can be hard to come by. When dogs get bones they usually chew on them, carry them around, bury them, and repeat.  So a stick can satisfy some of the fun your dog gets with a bone.

Plus, unlike a bone, it’s easy to replace when it gets too small or broken! 

Is It Okay For My Dog To Carry Sticks Around?

The good news is, it’s generally harmless for dogs to carry sticks around most of the time! After all, carrying stuff around, especially their ‘favorite’ stick, is a natural tendency for dogs.

I’ve only encountered a couple of minor problems with my dogs carrying sticks.

First, some dogs love to get the biggest stick possible.  This means it’s usually too big for the dog to easily control and they bang and bump the stick into everything and everyone around!

Second, be aware of dogs that like to bring sticks into the house.  Our good girl Sawyer used to do that when we first brought her home. 

We’d leave Huck and Sawyer home with the dog door open and come home to a dozen sticks around the house.  But Sawyer is a smart dog and it was an easily correctable habit!

Keep in mind that carrying sticks is one thing, but chewing sticks up is different. You don’t want your dog in the habit of chewing up sticks. He may swallow bits and have medical problems from it.

Wrapping Up: What Does A Dog Carrying A Stick Mean?

If…more likely when…you find your dog carrying a stick, chances are he’s just being a normal, fun-loving pup. He’s probably just playing around, and hopefully burning off some of that endless dog energy too!

Sticks make great toys for dogs – they naturally love to carry them around and play with them. 

Just be sure to monitor him and remove the stick if your good boy starts chewing it up into pieces he might swallow.

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