Why Do Dogs Like Squeaky Toys?

March 20, 2020

As a dog owner, we all love coming home with a new toy for our canine companions. There are lots of fun options to choose from, but for some dogs, nothing makes them more excited or amped up than a toy with a good old fashioned squeaker! But what’s the deal? Why DO dogs like squeaky toys so much?

No one knows for sure what it is about that incessant, repetitive, high-pitched squeaking sound that dogs just love. But so many dogs, across all different types of breeds, can’t get enough! My own dogs come running from other rooms when they hear the squeak because they can’t resist.

The main theories to the question, “Why do dogs like squeaky toys?” are:

  • The squeak activates their prey drive which makes them super engaged with the toy
  • The squeaky toys are the best way to get their human’s attention, good or bad
  • The squeak provides auditory feedback which makes it more fun to play with

So let’s dig into these ideas a little deeper to help you figure out which one best fits why your dog is totally obsessed with their squeaky toy.

Squeaky toys get their instincts going

The most common theory behind why dogs like squeaky toys is that it activates their prey drive. Don’t forget, your pup does have ancestors that were hunters after all! And some hunting breeds might have a prey drive that’s even more prevalent. I’m looking at you, terriers and retrievers.

The thought is that the squeak of a toy sounds similar to that of a small animal. Especially a small animal that thinks it’s in danger and would make great prey...

For these reasons, experts think that squeak might be activating their desire to hunt, and even kill! This explains why many dogs become absolutely obsessed with squeaky toys—stopping at nothing until they find that squeaker and demolish it.

And once the squeaker has been killed (so to speak) many dogs lose interest with the toy entirely. Mission accomplished.

Squeaky toys get them attention

With few exceptions, one of your dog’s main goals in life is to get your attention. And what toy gets your attention better than their loudest, most obnoxious squeaky toy! For better or for worse, when they pull out their squeakiest toy, they’re getting a reaction out of you.

Squeaky toys are fun to use to get your dog riled up and going for a good indoor play session. They get your dog’s attention and get them totally amped! All of this positive attention is exactly what your dog loves to get from you.

On the other hand, if you’re engrossed in something, be it work, a movie or dinner prep, and they start squeaking away, the sheer annoyance is enough for you to stop what you’re doing and engage. Granted, this is negative attention, to your pup, they’ve succeeded in getting your attention nevertheless.

All of this is to say, the loudest toy wins when it comes to getting the humans attention. Yet another solid theory on why you dog likes squeaky toys above all else.

Squeaky toys are, well, squeaky!

Okay, so this subheading maybe isn’t the clearest. But what I mean to say is, your dog might like playing with squeaky toys so much because they do something. They squeak! Which gives auditory input back to your dog. It’s a responsive toy.

When they hit it just right with their paw or mouth, they get a reaction, which just might make it that much more fun to play with. If your dog likes all toys that make sounds, not just squeaks, then this reason might explain your dog’s affinity to squeak toys. It’s more about the sound factor in general.

The fact that the toy squeaks in and of itself make it more engaging and interesting for your dog. Explaining quite simply, why dogs love squeaky toys.

What about dogs who hate squeaky toys?

Interestingly, there is a subset of dogs who can’t stand squeaky toys. For some, the squeak seems to trigger stress and distress. In some instances, this is the driving factor in a dog who wants to “kill” the squeak as quickly as possible.

Other dogs will run away, hide, or cower when they are around a toy that has a high-pitched squeak. If you see this kind of behavior in your dog, be respectful and opt for a different type of toy.

Squeaky toy safety tips

But along with thinking about why your dog likes their squeaky toy so much, we can’t forget to consider the safety factor. Because, as much as your dog might love ‘em, squeaky toys do pose a significant safety threat to your dog if they’re not monitored carefully.

The biggest risk factors are choking on or swallowing the squeaker. Often, squeakers are placed inside stuffed toys that many dogs easily rip open in a matter of a few minutes to hours. Once they get their mouth on the squeaker, it’s time to take the toy away.

If swallowed, the squeaker can cause an obstruction in your dog’s stomach or intestines and may require surgery to be removed! And if they don’t swallow it completely, there’s a chance of it obstructing their airway.

As a dog owner, it’s always a good idea to learn about dog first aid so you’ll know what to do if that unfortunate situation was to arise.

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