Many dogs prefer toys that make noise when they chew or play with them.
Why do dogs love squeaky toys? Dogs instinctively love squeaky toys because the squeak acts as a reward and is tied into the overall enjoyment they get from playing with the toy.
Dogs who enjoy squeakers can sit for hours on end squeaking the same toy until the squeaker finally fails. They can drive us humans crazy with their incessant squeaking!
There are a few theories as to why squeaky toys are so popular among dogs. Let’s dive into those theories, now.
4 Reasons Why Dogs Love Squeaky Toys?
There are many theories as to why dogs love squeaky toys. Here are a few of them:
1. Because Of Instinct
The most prevalent belief is that the squeak of the toy sparks something in the dog. It sparks the inner wolf to be released and to kill the prey! With this theory, it is thought that the squeak sounds similar to an injured or sick prey animal. In the wild, a wolf would hear such a sound and know that dinner was ready.
This could explain why dogs go crazy for the squeaky toy until the squeak dies or is “killed.” Of course, a question then is why doesn’t the dog go ahead and eat the squeaky toy that they perceived as prey? In the wild, a wolf certainly would find the prey animal, kill it, and eat it. Not find it, play with it until it died, and then walk away.
Of course, dogs are pretty smart and probably realize after a few squeaks that this isn’t something to eat or even be killed. Never the less, squeaky toys could bring out the prey-drive of our modern dog friends.
2. Because They Can
Another theory is that dogs squeak a squeaky toy because they can.
I mean wouldn’t you choose the most interactive toy to play with? Being interactive, the dog can do something and then the toy does something in response. In this case, the dog bites down and the toy squeaks.
Many dogs enjoy other interactive toys too such as crinkle toys, toys with rattles in them, or toys that bark and jiggle. All of these can be fun for dogs. Most dogs are not so picky as to the kind of interactive toy, they just prefer interactive toys. With that being said some dogs do seem to prefer louder toys.
3. Because The Squeak Is A Reward
This theory revolves around the idea that the dog considers the squeak a reward for biting the toy.
This lights up the reward center of the brain and gives the dog a rush of happiness hormones. Much like doing a trick for a treat. A basic positive reinforcement scenario. In fact, that is the basis of positive reinforcement training, if a dog gets a reward for an action they are more likely to repeat the action. We can certainly see that in a dog with a squeaky toy “squeak, squeak, squeak!”
But if that is the reason, then we have to wonder if we should be “rewarding” a dog for biting. I suppose that they are being reinforced for biting the toy and not the furniture or the kids. Then again kids can sound similar to squeaky toys with their high-pitch voices. I don’t know if I’ve ever heard of a dog biting a child because he thought it was squeaky toy though. But it could be something to keep in mind.
4. Because They Get Human Attention
This theory seems pretty solid. Basically, at some point in the dog’s life, he has gotten attention for squeaking the toy. Most dogs thrive on attention from their humans. Some dogs don’t discriminate between positive or negative attention either, they just want all the attention!
Think about it for a moment, the first time you gave your dog a squeaky toy. You probably were trying to engage your dog to play with it. Squeaking it and moving it around. All this is giving our dog attention. Then the first time your pup squeaked it you probably encouraged the squeaking and got excited and praised the pup. Again, positive reinforcement in action. The dog associated squeaky toys with your attention and love.
Then we have the flip side of that. Time goes on and the squeak that was so fun has turned to a migraine headache. You try to ignore it, block it out, anything! Finally, you do something, you take the toy, yell at the dog, or otherwise give the dog attention again. Now, this is not positive attention, like the first time, but it is attention none the less.
This is a similar scenario to encouraging a St. Bernard puppy to jump up on you when they great you. Wait until they are older and you will start to punish them for jumping on you, even though you encouraged it when they were young. Or encouraging a dog to rough house with you and then scolding the dog when it tries to rough house with the kids.
So, a word of caution, only encourage what you know will not be a problem in the long run. Sitting quietly when company comes over, ringing a bell to be let outside, or coming when called these are examples of things that should always be encouraged.
Are Dog Squeaky Toys Dangerous?
There are some dangers associated with squeaky toys. Some dogs will enjoy destroying the toy. This is great fun until the dog eats the squeaker and has to be rushed to the vet for surgery.
To avoid this, always keep an eye on your dog when he is playing with a squeaky toy, or any toy or chew for that matter.
Be sure to examine the toys for holes, tears, rips, and any other damage. Replace or repair the toy before it becomes a danger.
Benefits Of Squeaky Dog Toys For Dogs
Squeaky toys can also have some great uses. They are great for engaging a dog that loves them, in a game for physical activity. All dogs need exercise and a game with a squeaky toy can keep your dog entertained for hours, if you can keep up with them!
Depending on the toy it may help with keeping your dog’s mouth clean and healthy. The action of chewing the toy to make it squeak makes the toy rub on the dog’s teeth and loosen any plaque build-up.
Squeaky toys can be used as a wonderful training tool too if your dog is into them. You can use a squeaky toy like a clicker and squeak when your dog does something right, then reward them with a game with that same toy. This can be nice for the trainer because you won’t have to carry so much! Again, this only works for dogs who truly love squeaky toys.
Another way to use a squeaky toy for training is as a distraction. Now, you can’t do this if you use the squeaky toy as a training clicker. But if your dog loves squeaky toys and you think he has a good stay or recall you can really test it with a squeaky toy.
Can your dog stay in a stay if you squeak a squeaky toy? Will your dog reliably run to you if a nearby person squeaks a squeaky toy?
Once your dog passes the test of staying or coming to you when a squeaker is squeaked, you can make it harder. While the dog is in a stay, squeak and drop the squeaky toy or otherwise attempt to engage the dog in play.
A good reward would be to play with your dog with that toy after they are released from the stay. Plus, tons of praise!
Similarly, when doing a recall have a person stand nearby squeak a squeaky toy and try to engage the dog in play. If your dog comes right to you and leaves the squeaky toy behind this is time for huge praise and a super epic play session!
Why Does My Dog Not Like Squeaky Toys?
Not all dogs love squeaky toys and that’s okay. Does this mean that your dog is further removed from their wolf ancestors and has no prey drive? Probably not.
It could just be that your dog does not find that squeaks are rewarding or a good way to get your attention.
So, why do dogs love squeaky toys? There are several theories including the thought that it’s an instinct, or because they can, or because they feel the squeak is a reward, or because they get attention for it. Perhaps it is a combination of all of these. Likely, it is different for every dog.
Whatever the case maybe it is a good idea to keep an eye on your dog when he has a toy or chew to make sure that he is safe. Most squeaky toys are easily destroyed and the squeaker can be quite harmful to your dog if he eats it.
Lastly, squeaky toys can be a great way to train with your dog. They can be used as a reward or a huge distraction. But rest assured that a squeaky obsessed dog that comes to you when someone is trying to get them to play with a squeaky toy is an amazingly well-trained pal to have.