What Does It Mean When Your Dog Brings You a Dead Mouse Home?

What Does It Mean When Your Dog Brings You a Dead Mouse Home

Our dog has a free run of our backyard, with a dog flap letting him get outside whenever he likes. This is great in one respect as we don’t need to let him out to pee, but bad in another because it means he can bring dead mouse into the house whenever he likes!

From what I’ve researched, it’s quite normal behavior for dogs, and isn’t anything to be concerned about, but it is quite annoying and unhygienic… sometimes they are still alive too and will get loose in our kitchen.

It was only last week that our dog chased down some mice and brought a dead mouse into the house for us. This was when I decided to look into the reasons why a little further.

4 Reasons why your dog brings you dead mice and animals

The reasons why your dog brings you a dead mouse or small animal are all theory-based, but they all stack up and make a lot of sense when you think about them.

To find out, I sent social media messages to a few dog psychologists and vets. My question was; why do dogs kill mice and bring them home?

The answers were quite varied, so I’ve just included the most common ones on the theme. What was interesting was that some experts told me that just because my dog brings a dead mouse home, it doesn’t mean he actually killed. When dogs bring you dead mice it could be because they actually found them.

Here are those top reasons in the most popular order.

1. Because your dog sees you as the leader of the pack

One of the more popular comments on what it means when your dog brings you a dead mouse is that it’s related to pack mentality. In days gone by, your dog’s ancestors would have belonged in a wild pack with a clearly defined hierarchy of who’s in charge.

You still see this behavior in the animal kingdom with wolves and big cats. Modern domestic dogs still have elements of this in their genes.

There is a theory that kills mice and bring them home for you because they see you as the leader of their pack. What better way to show their respect and submission to you than a valuable gift of “food”?

I can imagine the funny thought running through my dog’s head as he brought the dead mouse back to me last week:

“I am a useful member of the pack, look at how clever and faithful I am to bring you this tasty mouse home. Please let me stay in our pack, I am useful, clever, and faithful to you!”

The next time your dog brings a dead mouse home for you, he probably just wants the praise and recognition that only you as the pack leader can give him.

2. Because your dog wants to teach you

An alternative theory is that dogs look at us as inexperienced hunters and want to teach us how to stalk, chase, and kill prey properly. What better way to do that by plonking a dead mouse on the porch to show us silly humans how it’s done?

It could be that all of this time, instead of dogs admiring us, instead they have been looking at us with pity due to our terrible hunting skills. Let’s be honest, in these days of online shopping and voice activated Alexa devices it’s never been easier to order up our next meal without having to go out and actually catch it ourselves!

You can just imagine our dogs looking at us with scorn as the groceries get delivered bagged up and fresh on the doorstep.

Where’s the fun and skill in that, the dog might think… and decide to show us how we should really be doing things by delivering a dead mouse to us.

3. Because your dog just wants to say thanks

Some other dog experts said that this could be just where your dog wants to say thank to you, or that they love you deeply.

Again, this makes sense to me as we are their food providers, play mates, we take them for walks, and we give them a safe home. They then give us their unconditional love in return… and the occasional unwanted gift in the form of a dead animal!

A dead mouse delivery could be their way of giving you thanks. We might say it with flowers, but perhaps dogs say it with a rotting and maggot-infested mouse or rat carcass instead? As you will already know, they do have a love of all things that are stinky!

Another thing that makes this one ring true to me is the common theory about dogs thinking of us as their parents. If this is true, then it stands to reason that they would want to give us a reward in the form a dead mouse.

4. Because your dog wants to show off and get attention

Dogs are show-offs. You only need to see how they start rolling in horse manure and then look at you like it’s the best thing they’ve ever done to understand this.

This is the last theory offered and has the view that by bringing you a dead mouse it could mean your dog just wants to show off and get attention from you.

Often dogs will exhibit behavior to get a reaction from their owners. You see that with dogs that chew things in your house due to something lacking their life such as love, exercise, and attention.

Alternatively, they might just think that by bringing a dead mouse home to you, you’re going to think how clever and awesome they are!

Dog most likely to bring you dead animals and mice

There are certain breeds that are more inclined to bring dead animals and mice home to you. Typically, this will be the dog breeds who have evolved for herding and those with high prey drive instincts.

Whilst it’s not set in stone, here are some of those breeds who are more likely to exhibit this behavior.

Afghan HoundsGreyhounds
Airedale TerriersIrish Wolfhounds
Alaskan MalamutesJack Russell Terriers
Australian Cattle DogsPharaoh Hounds
BasenjisRhodesian Ridgebacks
BeaglesSalukis
Border ColliesSamoyeds
Bull MastiffsShiba Inus
Bull TerriersSiberian Huskies
ChihuahuasWeimaraners
Doberman PinschersWhippets
English Springer SpanielsYorkshire Terriers
German ShepherdsXoloitzcuintlis

If we look at Beagles as a case in point, they have been bred by humans for their hunting ability with enhanced hearing, vision, and smell. In fact, the reason why Beagles have droopy long ears is actually to help them pick up scents.

Any of the breeds above are excellent at hunting and tracking and will stalk, chase, and catch all kinds of prey, but in particular smaller mammals such as rodents and birds. They have high energy and super-honed skills which let them sneak up on mice and rodents and then make a deadly pounce.

However, that doesn’t mean it’s only going to be well-trained hunting dogs that kill mice and animals to bring them home. All dogs have the instinct to act as hunter gatherers; it’s in their DNA and genes.

How to deal with a dog bringing a dead mouse home

Whilst it might be your automatic reaction to be disgusted by the sight of a dead mouse on your step, don’t be tempted to shout, scold your dog, and throw the carcass into the nearest trash can, this isn’t the best approach.

Firstly, there’s nothing wrong with your dog killing a mouse or small animal and bringing it home to you. It’s an instinctive thing, so don’t panic and think something’s wrong; it’s not.

Next check to see if the mouse is actually dead. It might be playing dead when scared of the dog, so if still alive you might be able to rescue it by gently taking it from your dog.

Above all though, don’t be angry with your dog. If anything, I would praise your dog because as far as he’s concerned, it’s something good that he’s done. If you’re angry that will send very confused messages and your dog simply won’t get it.

If the mouse is definitely dead, wrap it carefully in paper and bags. Double or even triple bag it and dispose in your bin. That way it should mean your dog can’t smell it and drag it out again when you least expect it.

Conclusion

As you can see, it’s not just cats that kill mice and bring them home as gifts to their lucky owners. Dogs do it too!

There’s nothing wrong with your dog bringing you a dead mouse or animal. It doesn’t mean your dog is a psychotic killer, and actually he might have just found it. I actually suspect my dog Claude, picked a mouse up that our cat had got too, as it didn’t look that fresh!

Either way, he’s probably just trying to please you.

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Dogs love to do gross things, but there’s usually good reason why they do it. I’ve blogged about many disgusting things like this in the past. You can read a selection of some of the most interesting (and funny) below.

Marc Aaron

I write about the things I've learned about owning a dog, the adventures we have, and any advice and tips I've picked up along the way.

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