Why do dogs like squeaky toys?
One theory suggests that dogs like squeaky toys because they mimic the sound of ‘prey’ in the wild.
But, others suggest their popularity lies in providing an instant sound reward. Squeaky toys are also a good way for dogs to get human attention – whether positive or negative!
Let’s take a closer look at some reasons why dogs like squeaky toys.
Most Popular Types of Dog Toy
Before we look at why do dogs like squeaky toys, we should consider what they’re being compared against!
There are so many types of dog toys available to us these days. This includes:
And more! Squeaky toys differ from other types because of the sound they make. They have a high-pitched squeak that your dog triggers by biting down on the toy.
Although squeakers are often loved by dogs, many people find them annoying. Especially when your dog just won’t stop squeaking it! So why do dogs like squeaky toys?
Do All Dogs Like Squeaky Toys?
If your dog doesn’t like squeakers, you don’t need to worry! It doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with your puppy.
Just like us, dogs show preferences to different types of toy. Many people observe a ‘favorite’ toy chosen by their dog.
This could be a soft plush toy from when they were a puppy, or something tough and rubbery that they can really dig their teeth into!
A 2010 study looked into temporary toy preferences in kennel-housed dogs to find that the majority of dogs gained interest in a toy that made a sound.
Dogs Can Get Bored of Toys
Another thing to note, is that dogs can get bored of toys too! So, if your dog used to love some of his squeaky toys, but now never touches them, he could just be bored of them.
You can easily keep your dog’s interest in toys by rotating his access. So, don’t just leave all his toys in the basket for him to play with whenever.
Remove some toys when he seems to have lost interest in them. Then, when you eventually bring them back out in a few weeks, he is likely to love them again!
But, back to squeaky toys? Why do dogs like squeakers and toys that make noise?
One reason that dogs like squeaky toys so much could be to do with their natural instincts. In the wild, dogs would have to hunt and scavenge for their own food.
Many modern dog breeds descend from a line of ancestry that were used to hunt alongside us, or even hunt for sport.
For instance, Labradors are commonly used as modern gundogs, and their ancestors worked alongside fishermen.
Yorkshire Terriers were used to chase and exterminate rats and other pests. And, Greyhounds were often used in the sport coursing, which involved chasing and catching small animals.
So, we can see lots of breeds have histories that involve chasing and catching animals.
But how does this relate to squeaky toys?
Squeakers Satisfying Natural Instincts
Some people think dogs love squeaky toys because that sound mimics the noise an animal would make when caught by a dog.
If so, this reward can satisfy our dogs’ natural instincts to hunt and catch animals.
Whether this is based on the instinct to feed themselves, or is tied to their domestic roles throughout history.
However, this isn’t the only line of thought when it comes to the popularity of squeaky toys. So why else might dogs like squeaky toys?
Instant Reward and Stimulation
Why do dogs like squeaky toys?
Another reason that your dog could like squeaky toys so much, is the instant reward it gets from chewing!
It might be more satisfying and stimulating for your dog to chew on something that makes a loud noise every time it chows down!
If your dog prefers squeaky toys to soft plush toys, this could be the reason.
It is also why interactive toys are so popular – because they offer your dog some mental stimulation.
Desire to Chew
Many squeaky toys are made from pretty firm rubber or plastic, so they can last a very long time.
Even the squeaker itself inside a plush toy offers a little core of resistance.
This means that squeaky toys will often satisfy your dog’s urge to chew. This can be great for ‘mouthy’ dogs like Labradors.
And for puppies who are going through teething stages.
Some people find that their strong-chewing dogs destroy toys very quickly. This can be a concern with squeaky toys, as that squeaker is small and easy to swallow or choke on.
But we will look at ways to keep squeaky toys safe for your dogs a little further down in this article.
There are reasons for us to love squeaky toys for our dogs too!
As well as our dogs enjoying squeaky toys, offering them something like this to chew on can also have benefits to their dental health.
Squeaky toys are great because they are fun and interactive for your dog to chew on. But, they are not so hard that they could damage or break your dog’s teeth.
So, at the cost of a little noise, you can help to improve your dog’s dental health.
Potential Dangers of Squeaky Toys
Now that we’ve looked at why do dogs like squeaky toys, we should ask – are squeaky toys safe for our dogs?
They can be great fun, and even good for our dogs’ mental and dental health. But, there are times when squeaky toys can become dangerous.
The main danger is swallowing or choking on any small parts.
The squeaker inside squeaky toys is often very small. This can pose a danger to even tiny dogs. Especially if they are strong chewers.
How to Keep Squeaky Toys Safe
In order to avoid any harm coming to your dog as a result of chewing on squeaky toys there are three steps you can take.
Make sure to regularly check your dog’s toys for any loose pieces that could easily come off when your dog is playing.
Replace any old toys that are starting to fall apart, or have any holes torn in them. As soon as dogs start to tear these little holes, it becomes much easier to destroy the whole toy.
And finally, supervise any playtime. This is the best way to ensure that you are able to stop your dog from swallowing any pieces that he shouldn’t.
Does Your Dog Like Squeaky Toys?
If you have any more questions related to ‘why do dogs like squeaky toys?’ make sure to leave them in the comments.
We would love to hear if your dog enjoys playing with squeaky toys. What’s your dog’s favorite squeaker?
And why do you think your dog likes squeaky toys so much?
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References and Resources
- Pullen, A. (et al), ‘Preferences for Toy Types and Presentations in Kennel Housed Dogs’, Applied Animal Behavior Science (2010)
- Wells, D. L. ‘The Influence of Toys on the Behavior and Welfare of Kennelled Dogs’, Animal Welfare (2003)
- Farricelli, A. ‘Involve All Senses in Your Dog’s Environmental Enrichment’, Dog Discoveries (2016)
- Johnston, N. ‘Attitudes to Oral Care in Dogs Among UK’s Vets and Vet Nurses’, Vet Times (2012)
The Labrador Site Founder
Pippa Mattinson is the best selling author of The Happy Puppy Handbook, the Labrador Handbook, Choosing The Perfect Puppy, and Total Recall.
She is also the founder of the Gundog Trust and the Dogsnet Online Training Program
Pippa's online training courses were launched in 2019 and you can find the latest course dates on the Dogsnet website