By Nan Talleno

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Many of our best friends love to collect or hoard as many toys, bones, treats and morsels of food as they can. Sometimes, they even collect things that aren’t even theirs to begin with, such as slippers, socks, children’s toys, stuffed animals, etc.

This can be a purely instinctive behavior in a few ways. First, it’s the need to protect what is their own so that it isn’t recovered or taken away. For example, if it’s food, it’s the need to eat alone away from the original area so that it isn’t eaten by a more dominant dog. If it’s hidden, it’s from the need to save food in case there is no more for the next meal.

The way around this is to make sure that your dog isn’t too excited or in a state of tension or stress whenever you give them something such as a toy or treat or whenever you place down the bowl at mealtimes.

To accomplish this, ask your dog for a simple task first, such as “Sit”or “Sit” and “Stay.” Wait for a few seconds of calm so that your dog learns that a calmer state brings rewards. Then place down the bowl or offer the treat or the toy gently while your dog is in a calm “Sit.”

Also, for toys, make sure that you offer one toy at a time to avoid stress and offer another by teaching your dog to “drop it” and offer an even better toy.

Sometimes too many toys on the floor can be overwhelming so you can turn it into a bonding exercise while providing good leadership.