Why Does My Dog Bring me Her Bone? Am I used as a Bone Holder?

Last Updated on 2021-04-16 by Admin

Dog Chewing Bone

For a while, I wonder why my Dog Annie brings me her Bone to hold. Does she do it because she wants to share or offer me something? Or is it purely because it is easier to chew the Bone while I hold it?

When my wife gives my Boxer girl Annie a lamb bone, Annie will generally bring it to me when sitting on the couch or the floor. When sitting on the couch, Annie will stand in front of me and look at me. Then she places the Bone on my lap or beside my legs on the couch. When I put the Bone back on the floor, she will get it, then give it back to me.

Other times when Annie gets a bone, I sit on the floor near her. On those occasions, Annie will bring the Bone, look me in the face and try to place the Bone on my chest. And if I don’t go and hold it, she will pick up the Bone again and put it on my chest a second time.

There was even an occasion where my wife gave Annie a bone while I was out. Annie would only play with the Bone while I was out. After I came home and sat on the couch or floor, she brought the Bone. Even when I encourage her to eat the Bone without my help, she insists on me holding the Bone.

After observing Annie’s behaviour during and after our Bone sharing sessions for the last few years. My opinion of why Annie shares bones with me has changed several times. Lets review some of those opinions on why does my Dog bring me her bone?

Is it on offering \Generosity?

There is not much scientific evidence that dogs share with other dogs or humans. Observation shows that dogs share with others. For example, when Dog’s want to play, it is not uncommon for one Dog to place a ball in front of another dog. An invitation to play. At other times they resort to the same approach to taunt another dog. Then take the ball away and run off.

But what happens when it’s not about play but food? Do they still share? (1) based on some research, dogs do share food with other dogs. However, their ancestor, the Wolfe, did it a lot more based on one study(2). For an animal that lives in a pack, it makes sense to share food. Wolfs also hunt in packs. Not sharing among pack members does not benefit the pack.

When it comes to dogs, they don’t have to hunt for food. For most dogs, the pack consists of humans, not fellow dogs. However, what still is in place is the rank of each pack member. So it is possible that sharing the bone is an acknowledgement of the dogs rank in the pack.

Why it is an Honour to get a Bone from a Dog

It is my opinion that some dogs like to share. But, a dog’s reason for doing so probably not a straightforward one. On the one hand, I have seen appreciation from my Boxer girl Annie very frequently. For example, when Annie gets a back and leg massage because she experiences discomfort, she will lick my arms and neck during or after the massage.

So it is imaginable that bringing a Bone to someone the Dog appreciates is a way to re-confirm a bond. What better way to confirm the bond than by spending quality time together and working on an enjoyable task together?

Bringing me a Bone is a voluntary action on the Dog’s part. In doing so, it gives You something it value. Or does the Dog have ulterior motives?

Am I used as a Bone Holder by my Dog?

One can hardly ignore the benefits a dog gets from a human holding a bone. Yet, what I noticed is that not all bones get shared. Beef bones with Marrow in them are never shared. With those bones, it is also straightforward to get the bone marrow out.

Holding Lamb Bone
Lamb Bone

The lamb leg bones are the ones that Annie shares. Those bones are much longer but thinner. Those lamb bones require much more effort and time to chew. It takes effort to get all the meat off the Bone. And while the lamb bones are long and thin, they are not that easy to crack to get to the Marrow.

Does my Dog just want attention?

In my opinion, Dogs have much better and easier ways to get attention than to share a bone. With Annie, there are a multitude of ways to signal the desire for attention or affection. She will bring a toy, sit on my foot or lay on the back expecting a belly rub. Annie will also stand in the middle of the room and look at my wife or me. As if to say, hey guys, what’s up? Annie has many ways to get attention without risking a bone.

Is there an emotional reward?

If You are used to holding the bone for Your Dog while chewing. It might be the desire to recreate a special connection.

In our case, when I hold the Bone that Annie chews, she has my undivided attention. Which makes these moments special for both of us. Because dogs can read human emotions, maybe it is the calmness and lack of stress we have in those moments that are also appealing to the Dog.

Could it be Intelligent Behaviour?

During the previous year, I paid more attention to how Annie solves problems. Watching Annie solve dog puzzles made me much more appreciative of the Dog’s cleverness.

While reflecting on these observations and experiences, I had to ask, what is intelligent behaviour? Dogs don’t have the same level of dexterity as animals with hands, like monkeys. Dogs will hold a bone between their paws. Or use other creative ways to secure it, like wedging it between two top cushion of a couch.

But is it not higher intelligence to manipulate another intelligent being for one’s gain? And on top of it all, make the other party feel honoured? Dogs can do that. Isn’t that genius? Grin..


For me, the answer as to why dogs share bones is manifold. They do want to share for social reasons. That could consist of acknowledging Your rank within the pack, as well as a sign of appreciation. Undeniably there is convenience and benefit to the Dog when someone is holding the Bone. Last but not least, there is a social and bonding aspect to it. Like sitting together on the floor, me holding the Bone and observing how she goes devours the Bone. These are some of my most rewarding and stress free moments with Annie. Maybe she can feel that.


(1) Task Differences and Prosociality; Investigating Pet Dogs’ Prosocial Preferences in a Token Choice Paradigm https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0167750

(3) Is Your Dog Psychic? Dogs have natural-born superpowers of observation and sensitivity.


(2) Wolves, but not dogs, are prosocial in a touch screen task https://www.researchgate.net/publication/332800541_Wolves_but_not_dogs_are_prosocial_in_a_touch_screen_task

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