Why do dogs like squeaky toys?
When I first adopted my dog, I didn’t really know what kind of toy she would like. There are so many different kinds of toys out there and not all dogs have the same preferences. If you are a new dog owner and not sure where to start, I recommend taking your dog to a pet store to get some ideas of what he/she would be drawn to. As you walk around though, you will notice that squeaky toys are probably one of the most popular dog toys out there.
Ever wondered why? We’ve scoured the Internet for theories as to why dogs love squeaky toys:
Scientific researchers have examined why dogs preferred certain toys over others and have concluded that it can all be traced back to our dogs’ wolf ancestry. Of course, our dogs, unlike their wolf ancestors, no longer have to hunt for food. However, people still believe that dogs tap into their prey drive when they play with squeaky toys. In general, squeaky toys resemble the high-pitched noises that a wounded, or injured prey animal would make.
Toy manufacturers know this, so you’ll see the most popular squeaky toys to be in the form of plush animals: squirrels, raccoons, ducks, foxes, etc. Dogs enjoy them so much to the point of eventually destroying them. I’ve heard it enough times when brand new toys get destroyed just after they have been bought. Don’t be alarmed; it’s natural for dogs to do this! Many believe that dogs make it their mission to ‘kill’ the squeakers and/or destroy the toy. This is considered healthy behavior.
I get it— toys are not cheap. It can be frustrating to feel like you have to buy a new toy for your dog again after the squeaker just died. Worse, he/she loves just this particular one but the squeaker is dead and you can’t find it at any store anymore.
If the toy is losing its squeak and the toy is still usable for the most part, there are replacement squeakers you can buy that can essentially repair the toy. There are tons of different sizes available online. I just ordered some on Amazon actually; we’ve made it a mini project to do “surgeries” to restore some old squeakers this month!
Instant Stimulation and Reward
As pet parents, some people don’t like to think that their dogs still have prey drive in them, as they have been domesticated for thousands of years.
So here is another theory as to why dogs love squeaky toys—Dogs just love the noise that comes from biting the squeaky toy. In fact, once the dogs start, more often than not, they will continue biting to keep hearing that sound. The sound that comes from their bite tells them they are doing a good job and is good enough to create a reaction. The squeak tells our dogs to continue biting, whereas a toy without a squeaker gives no feedback at all. Dogs react well to rewards.
Helps Develop Motor Skill
Another theory as to why dogs like squeaky toys is because playing them helps dogs develop motor skill. Play has been found to be helpful in young dogs in the development of motor skills. Play plays a role in allowing dogs to practice for future behaviors such as fighting, biting, and chasing. Rough play can also help young dogs strengthen connective tissues, ligaments and bones. If you think about it, this would be very similar to humans going to the gym for physical exercise. Play also has been found to promote brain development and boost mental stimulation.
Promotes Dental Health
Similarly, some people believe that dogs love squeaky toys because it makes their mouths feel good. According to WebMD, active chewers have less plaque buildup than those that are not. Thus, squeaky toys not only satisfy dogs’ desire to chew, but also make their mouth feel better by massaging the gums and scraping the teeth.
Squeaky toys are popular toys for good reason. Reasons above are just some of the many benefits in introducing our dogs to squeaky toys. Toys help channel our dogs' energy into something fun and is known to be good for their mental and physical growth.
While toys can be very fun and beneficial for dogs, there is an inherent risk that dogs can accidentally swallow the stuffer, the squeaker, or the entire toy. As a general rule, dog owners should always supervise playtime. Additionally, it wouldn’t hurt to regularly inspect toys to prevent our dogs and/or little ones at home from swallowing anything they shouldn’t.
Ready to shop and would like to get recommendations? Check out a couple of my dog’s favorite squeakers below. All can be found on Chewy.com, Amazon, Petco, and PetSmart! Happy playing!
Outward Hound Hide-A-Squirrel Squeaky Puzzle Plush Dog Toy
KONG® Squeezz® Ball Dog Toy