Why does your dog love squeaking their toy?
Does your dog love squeaky toys? It only occurred to me the other day how much mine really, really loves squeaking them. They squeak and squeak until he rips them apart and takes the squeaker out. He likes to follow me around the house squeaking - and always appears with a rubber chicken in his mouth as soon as I try and hop on a Zoom call. Coincidence of course. Dogs aren't wired for sabotage, (are they?)
Quite often the squeaking gets a bit much and I put the toys on top of the wardrobe. But then he gets sad and sits there and stares up at them and makes his own squeaky whining noises until I relent and get them down again, and then instantly remember why I put it up there in the first place. I also seem to have some sort of short term memory loss when I’m buying squeaky toys. I’ll spot one in the supermarket, give it a squeak and think “boy, that’s really annoying - the dog will love this!” and I put it in my trolley and proceed to the checkout. But it wasn’t til I sat watching him squeak the living daylights out of his latest squeaky toy at the weekend that I thought to myself, "man he really loves squeaking that thing! Maybe it’s satisfying some sort of primal urge?” So of course, I looked it up.
Terrier photo by Blue Bird on Pexels
The urge to squeak
According to Florida-based vet Dr. Georgina Ushi Phillips, squeaky toys tap into your dog’s primal instincts because they resemble the noise that an animal such as a rabbit might make if your dog were attacking it:
"While we might not always think of our little pups as predators, they certainly are and the instincts of their wild ancestors are still alive in them today.”
So, I was right. Listening to my dog chomping away on Mr Squeaky the bright yellow rubber chicken, right next to my face whilst I’m trying to watch my favourite soap is actually satisfying his prey drive and his primal urges.
He wants to kill Mr Squeaky.
Which also explains why he always rips his toys to pieces and takes the squeaker out too!. My old pup never shredded his toys but this one usually dismantles and de-squeaks any toy you give him within a day.
Dr Phillips explains his obsession:
"For most dogs, the obsession with removing the squeaker is tied to prey drive. Dogs not only want to capture their prey, but they also want to kill it.”
So essentially, my dog is thinking “It’s still squeaking, it’s still alive. I must kill it!” and he draws a lot os satisfaction from that act. He is certainly not thinking “Wow these toys aren’t cheap I hope mum doesn’t mind if I destroy another one,” or “I hope she's OK about this trail of shredded rubber all over the sofa and lounge area.”
According to Dr. Phillips, for some dogs, once the noise stops, the hunt is over:
"This also explains why some dogs completely lose interest in the toy when the squeaker is gone.”
Although this is not the case for my dog, he likes to rub the remains of his squeaky toy on me repeatedly when I’m watching TV. Not sure what that is about? He doesn't want me to throw it, he just wants to put the slobbery thing on me.
The other thing squeaky toys are great for is summoning your dog. Whether that is on purpose or by accident. Sometimes my dog has been upstairs in a deep sleep and I’ve accidentally trodden on a squeaky toy downstairs and he’s there right by my side expecting to play. We also like playing a game where we put the squeaky toy under the rug and step on it and he has to hunt around for it.
Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels
Supervise play time
Of course, if your does like to remove the squeaker, all those little bits of shredded toy aren’t necessarily safe and Dr Phillips recommends that you supervise your dog if they are playing with a squeaky toy:
“Playtime with squeaker toys should always be supervised as many dogs get so caught up in "the hunt" that they may swallow parts of the toy.
“If your dog has any history of ingesting foreign objects, then stuffed squeaky toys are not the best option and instead go with a sturdier toy like a Kong."
Make sure that you inspect your dog’s toys regularly and replace any that are ripped open or damaged.
Photo by Mathew Coulton on Unsplash
But wait, what if your dog hates squeaky toys?
Of course not all dogs love a squeaky, some are actually frightened of them. They do not have the same kind of prey drive as say, a lurcher and could be frightened of a loud squeak.
If your dog is frightened of squeakies, try choosing one with a softer squeak or a crinkling noise. Place it in amongst their other toys and let them explore it on their own rather than squeaking it in their face and expecting them to join in. If they don’t come around then don’t force it. Swap the squeaky toys out for something more suitable.
How does your dog react to squeaky toys? Do they do they lose interest when the squeak runs out or do they enjoy rubbing them on you when you’re trying to do stuff? Let us know in the comments below!
Featured Photo of dog with fluffy toy by Jesper Brouwers on Unsplash