Dogs go mad because of the high-pitched chirps and high-pitched cries of squeaky toys. If you’ve ever wondered why that damn squeak is so appealing to our puppies, you’ve come to the right place!
There are some things we definitely know about dogs like what it means when a dog licks you or why dogs get zooms. We also know they love their toys. It is one of the simple pleasures in life to watch our puppies happily chew and throw around their favorite indestructible dog toy or try to discover the treats in a stimulating puzzle toy. But when it comes to those coveted toys, there’s one thing that baffles a lot of people: What’s the appeal of squeaky toys? For simple humans, they are a bit boring. Still, dogs can’t get enough of it. It’s crazy how many times a dog can squeal a toy in an hour and come back to it later like it’s a new toy! So why do dogs love squeaky toys so much? Here’s what the experts are saying.
The thrill of the hunt
Here’s a popular theory shared by canine experts on why dogs love squeaky toys: Squeaks resemble prey they are programmed to hunt and kill. Of course, the dogs we have as pets today don’t have to hunt for food; their food is conveniently ready to eat in a bowl each day. Yet this instinct is in their blood. âMany breeds have histories that involve hunting and catching such small animals,â says veterinarian Matthew McCarthy, DVM, founder of Juniper Valley Animal Hospital in Middle Village, New York. For example, Labradors and Weimaraners were bred as hunting dogs, and adorable small dog breeds like the Yorkshire Terrier were once used to hunt and kill rodents. “Watching your dog rip, foolishly shake and disembowel a plush squeaky toy until he’s ‘dead’ is certainly proof of this theory / mechanism at work, ânotes Dr. McCarthy.
The theory is further reinforced by observing non-hunting breeds. The Samoyed, a sled dog, is not as likely to be interested in squeaky toys as it was bred to stay focused on the trail and not be distracted by small creatures nearby. But Dr McCarthy points out that this isn’t a hard and fast rule, as some breeds, regardless of their ancestral backgrounds, may still like squeaky toys.
Squeaky toys activate the feedback loop
Think of it this way: when something feels good and is fun to do, you want to keep doing it. The same goes for dogs, of course. When a dog nibbles on a squeaky toy, they hear a sound that triggers an immediate gratifying auditory reward. âSeveral studies have shown that certain sounds like those made by a squeaky toy trigger reward centers in the brain to release the beneficial chemical dopamine, much like a runner’s euphoria,â says Dr. McCarthy. These happy feelings encourage your puppy to come back to the squeaky toy over and over, instilling a feedback loop. It makes sense! Now learn the reasons for some other weird dog behaviors like why they like to roll around in stinky things.
It’s an invitation to play
Pet parents can adopt certain communication tactics, from subtle cues from a dog’s tail to the most obvious signs of an anxious dog hiding under the bed. But other messages from our puppies are more cryptic and deliciously intelligent. Have you ever noticed that your puppy often enjoys playing with the squeaker toy right next to you? There may be an ulterior motive to this. According to Dr. McCarthy, as soon as we engage with them by picking up the squeaky toy, it releases dopamine and oxytocin, which cement their bond with us. âWhen the dog interacts with the squeaker toy, it is reinforced by both the toy itself and the person’s attention,â adds Karen Sueda, DVM, veterinarian at VCA West Los Angeles Animal Hospital. By the way, this is what really happens to your dog when you say “I love you” to him.
Squeaky toys appear to be real prey
A squirrel squirrel has a tail that your pooch will love to swing and nibble on to make him squeak. Or maybe he’s going crazy about his favorite goose toy, shaking it wildly to activate the squeak. You wouldn’t imagine it: your dog probably enjoys this hobby because these toys look and sound like real prey. And it’s not just the likeness of prey or the screams that make it so appealing. Dogs love squeaky toys because they revert to that instinctive nature of hunting, killing, and tearing prey. “The squeaker hiding inside somewhat mimics the internal organs of creatures,” says Adrienne Farricelli, Certified Professional Dog Trainer at Brain Training for Dogs. âNo wonder Rover is so determined to bite into it! He squeals like an animal, and on top of that, it’s so much fun to break open and disembowel, much to the owner’s dismay.
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High-pitched or low-pitched squealing toys
Does your dog act differently when playing with high-pitched and low-pitched squeaky toys? May be. “Typically, high-pitched, jerky noises tend to encourage activity, while lower-pitched, longer-lasting noises tend to be more soothing,” says Dr. Sueda.
Still, some dogs aren’t fans of squeaky toys no matter what they look like. “If the dog shies away or seems fearful when you squeal the toy, the sound may disturb them,” says Dr. Sueda. From an entertainment standpoint, it’s okay if your dog doesn’t like playing with squeaky toys, but the lack of interest could indicate other mental and health issues. âIf the dog experiences a lot of sound sensitivities, consult your veterinarian on ways to address your dog’s more general fear of noises,â advises Dr. Sueda. Additionally, your dog may have dental or mouth pain that prevents him from chewing to activate the squeaker. FYI, here’s what you can give a dog for pain relief.
How to use squeaky toys for training
Just when you thought you knew all the dog trainer training secrets, the squeaker toy arrives and proves you wrong. Whether it is a squeaky rope Where chew toyThis can be a sneaky way to reinforce your dog’s behaviors, says Farricelli. “Hide a squeaky toy behind your back, call your dog and reinforce him to come to you by praising him and giving him access to the toy while you squeal and throw him to grab it . The sound of the squeaker can also distract your dog from something he shouldn’t get into or unwanted behavior like biting.
But the funniest way to use a squeaker toy is to capture your dog’s attention when taking pictures. While your dog is in a solid sitting / standing position, push down on the toy to get his full attention. âI get the best photos this way because they sit well composed while their ears are pricked up, their eyes are bright, and they have a focused and alert expression,â says Farricelli. If she gets the chance, she gets the adorable tilt of her head too!
The potential dangers of squeaky toys
What’s the danger of good old-fashioned instinctive fun? Nothingâ¦ unless your puppy ingests the squeaker and / or stuffing after tearing the toy to shreds. Dr McCarthy says some of his patients pass on the material and squeal when they poop, while other dogs end up with an intestinal blockage that requires surgery to remove them. This is why it is so important to keep an eye on your dog when playing with toys, especially squeaky ones.
Equally important is training your dog from the start to ‘drop him’ or ‘let him down’ at the right time. But if he ignores that command and you can’t take the toy away from him, Farricelli has a suggestion: a high-value trade. Treat your dog to something edible that he’s going crazy about, whether it’s a dog treat or a peanut butter stuffing Kong. âThe point is to make the dog feel that when we approach him to take a toy away from him, we have something much better to offer,â says Farricelli. “[That helps] prevent resource protection and teach the dog to give up things on purpose rather than giving us a hard time, like running away with it, baring its teeth or trying to bite.
How to Choose Squeaky Toys Safely
Squeaky toys abound. Some toys are cuter and look more fun to play than others, but what really matters is durability and safety. Plush stuffed with padding are the least durable and most likely to get destroyed quickly, and you’ll need to replace them more often. “I recommend rubber Where plastic toys, preferably with a relief, striated or spiked surfacebecause it helps clean your dog’s teeth and gums while chewing, âsays Dr. McCarthy. “And look for a food-grade material that is BPA-free, which means it’s antibacterial and more resistant to dog slime and repetitive cleaning over time.” Get in the habit of regularly checking your dog’s toys for damage and your backyard for these shocking dog hazards.
When you need a break from squeaky toys
As pet parents, we might not appreciate the seemingly endless squeaker loop, and we might be hoping for what Dr. McCarthy calls a “squeakectomy.” Fortunately, there is a way for your dog to go crazy over a squeaky toy without having to sacrifice your sanity. âDogs can hear ultra high-pitched noises that we can’t hear,â says Dr. McCarthy. “There are “silent” squeaky toys which operate in these frequencies sparing humans which have all the benefits without the noise! While you’re shopping for a quiet squeal, also put a few of those treats your dog wants from Petco on the list.