Understanding the reason dogs love a squeaky toy sound can help you appreciate your pup's enjoyment of their toys even more.
Many dog owners don’t love squeaky toy sounds, at least not after their dog has been tearing into the toy for an hour. We often wish our dogs would be more interested in playing with a quieter toy. However, understanding the reason behind the love for squeaky toys can help you appreciate your dog’s enjoyment of their squeaky toys more.
Dog Behavior 101: Why Do Dogs Like Squeaky Toys?
Dog behavior can be puzzling, especially when we’re not enjoying the high-pitched squeaks from squeaky toys, but our dog loves it.
So, why do dogs like squeaky toy sounds?
Many dogs love squeaky toy sounds because the sounds mimic the thrill of hunting and killing prey. While this isn’t the most pleasant visual, squeaky toys drive a dog’s natural prey drive, which motivates them to play.
Remember, almost all dog breeds were initially bred with a specific task or job, such as hunting, herding, or guarding property. Even if your dog has never been trained for a particular job, these instincts run deep in their DNA.
Another reason dogs love squeaky toys is that they are interactive. Puzzle toys or squeaky toys are engaging and keep dogs entertained. The fun cause-and-effect relationship with the toy keeps your dog interested in playing with it longer than a stationary toy.
Think about other types of toys, like rope toys. Your dog needs a partner, you, to play tug-of-war with the rope toy, but the squeaky toy offers independent interactive play on its own, making it more entertaining.
Novelty is another important factor for enticing dogs to play, especially dogs that are older or less interested in toys. The squeaky toy sounds in some toys are inconsistent, making it a game for your dog to master how they can make the toy squeak.
Large vs. Small Dog Breeds
Toy preferences are highly personal to each dog. However, there are general trends among dogs regarding which toys they prefer, typically based on their size and background.
You’ll find that many smaller dog breeds bred for hunting, like Terriers and Chihuahuas, especially love squeaky toys because they are often around the same size as the prey their ancestors hunted.
For example, terriers were trained to hunt or scare away rodents that are around the same size as many plush squeaky toys.
On the other hand, some pet experts suggest that larger dog breeds aren’t as fond of standard squeaky toys. This difference may be because larger dogs were often trained for different tasks, such as herding animals, so they may not have that “killer” hunting instinct.
Retriever dog breeds, for instance, may enjoy playing with frisbees or balls more because this matches their instinct for chasing and retrieving objects.
As for large dogs bred for hunting, they were usually trained to go after larger animals, such as boars or birds. No surprise that a small squeaky toy wouldn’t stimulate as much.
This isn’t to say that larger dog breeds can’t enjoy a squeaky toy, but there does seem to be a greater love for squeaky toys among small to medium-sized dog breeds.
How to Maximize Your Dog’s Fun with Squeaky Toys
Get in on the fun and think of ways to enhance your dog’s experience with squeaky toys. Try dragging the toy on the ground and keeping it just out of your dog's reach to get their attention.
If your dog is on the calmer side or not as interested in toys, let them “win” tug-of-war with the squeaky toy to boost their confidence.
If you have a dog that loves squeaky toys, consider using them as a special reward for training, This is especially helpful for dogs that aren’t motivated by food.
Too much of a good thing is boring, so keep your squeaky toy sessions short and sweet! These sessions will feel like a special treat for your dog whenever you bring out their favorite squeaky toy.
Squeaky Toy Safety
If your dog enjoys destroying soft toys, never leave them unsupervised with the toy.
Classic squeaky toys have a squeaking mechanism, often in the form of a plastic ball buried in the toy. Always supervise your pup when playing with a squeaky toy because if they rip the mechanism out and swallow it, that is a serious choking hazard and medical emergency.
Immediately dispose of ripped-up squeaky toys to prevent this scenario from happening so your dog can continue having fun safely.
When playtime ends, remove and store the squeaky toy away from your dog’s reach. If your dog isn’t keen on giving up their squeaky toy, trade it for a tasty treat or a different toy.