There you are having your cup of perfectly brewed coffee on a lazy Sunday morning with your favorite book in hand, ready to explore its pages and all the magic they contain, when suddenly your dog walks in, with a toy in his mouth and that all too familiar and sometimes irritating squeaking sound. You ignore it and hope that it will go away but there it goes again and again. What is this assault on the senses? Well, if you have a dog at home, this scene and the sound are all too familiar. Dogs just seem to love playing with squeaky toys.
The Root of the Behavior
Have you ever wondered why dogs seem to love that squeaky sound? Well, it seems to go back to nature when dogs were in the wild and they would hunt for prey and kill. Prey make noises and some of them even squeak, and these sounds helped dogs find their prey. This is part of their natural hunting instinct which still remains today even in dogs that are domesticated.
A toy that squeaks gives your dog the same kind of satisfaction and they also help stimulate their mind and keep them satisfied with their chewing instinct. Hearing those squeaky sounds will trigger the prey drive of dogs and they respond by twitching their ears. Dogs that hunt in the wild follow a predatory series of actions that include searching for their prey, stalking their prey, chasing their prey, catching their prey, biting their prey, killing their prey, and eating their prey. When dogs hear that squeaky sound, they get ready to engage.
When dogs take hold of their squeaky toy they may shake it from side to side in order to “kill” the prey. In the wild, this is tantamount to breaking the spine of the prey. Your pet pooch may become hyper when hearing sounds that resemble a frightened or helpless animal. A word of caution though, keep in mind that the squeaky toy might be broken apart and numerous dogs have swallowed squeakers and have required surgery to get it out.
However, not all dogs respond to squeaky toys in the same way. They are particularly appealing to dog breeds descended from ancestors that used to hunt vermin. Terriers, for example, are particularly fond of squeaky toys because they resemble mice that squeak. Retrievers, on the other hand, are particularly attracted to toys that make quacking noises. Although all dogs have a certain level of prey drive, not all dogs will get excited when hearing a squeaking sound.
Encouraging the Behavior
There are various other activities which stimulate your dog’s prey drive aside from squeaky toys. They all work in a similar fashion, which is to help dogs use their pent-up energy by catching the prey. They are unlike laser pointers, where a dog keeps chasing something but does not actually end up catching it, which is so frustrating. The toy squeaks when your dog bites down. Some varieties also squeak when your dog releases pressure. Dogs enjoy this kind of mental stimulation. It is similar to toddlers being enamored by toys which respond to their actions.
Seeing your dog go nuts over his squeaky toy is one of life’s simple pleasures. However, if you notice that your dog has become obsessed with “killing” his squeaky toy and or tearing the toy up, it might be high time to take it away. Fortunately, most dogs don’t go to such extremes. They seem happy and content just playing with their squeaky toy and chewing it. Some experts believe that because squeaky toys offer audio reinforcement, they might just be better than other items used for doggie entertainment. They actually make excellent training devices for dogs. Because they trigger your pooch’s predatory instinct, they can easily be used to mold and guide your dog’s behavior in the desired fashion.
Other Solutions and Considerations
Despite being served their meals on time in bowls, most dogs remain instinctive hunters. Squeaky toys give your pampered pooch the chance to become predators, just as their ancestors were in the wild. This is one of the reasons why most dogs love their squeaky toys so much and spend a considerable time playing with them. Choose the appropriate toy size for your dog’s breed and size. Toys that are meant for adults should not be given to puppies. Large dogs can also easily swallow small sized toys while puppies can easily suffocate on large squeaky toys. Always check the material used for the toy. Squeaky toys that are made of hard rubber tend to last longer and are safer for your dogs. You should also be on the lookout for toxic components such as arsenic, mercury, and lead, which are hazardous for your dog.
Giving your dog a squeaky toy to play with is one of their greatest joys and it could just one of the most innocent and pleasurable things to see in life. However, you must think of your dog’s safety when purchasing squeaky toys that stimulate your pooch’s prey drive. The last thing you want is for your beloved canine to end up on the operating table for swallowing squeaky toy parts.
By a Chow Chow lover Jhoana Carla de Toro
Published: 03/02/2018, edited: 01/30/2020