The bane of your existence and the source of your dogs' infinite joy - squeaky toys. It is many dogs most beloved toy - have you ever wondered why? Does it really bring out your dog’s killer instinct, does it encourage aggression and hunting anything that squeals? Or is your puppy just an innocent goofball who enjoys toys that give off a sound and therefore a feeling of interaction with every bite? It is also possible that they’ve figured out that is a guaranteed way to get your attention - even if it’s just to hear you yell “shush!” Whatever the case, it is a well-known fact that dogs absolutely love chewing on those squeaky toys and despite your eardrum discomfort - you still buy a new toy each time your four-legged rascal has gnawed out the squeaking mechanism.
The Root of the Behavior
Whether it is an adorable Yorkie or a loyal Akita, breed doesn’t really come into play when it comes to the popularity of the squeaky toy. All breeds alike get transfixed by the sound and can remain occupied with their favorite toy for hours, although some breeds respond more to the higher-pitched squeaks while others prefer the deeper toned quacks. Either way, most dogs feel compelled to attack and chew at their squeaking prey till it’s literal dying breath - or till they’ve broken or removed the squeaker inside. This leads to the theory that those types of toys are seen by our four-legged friends as prey. Since dogs have strong natural hunting instincts, the type of noise made by a squeaky toy is reminiscent of prey that is afraid or is being hurt. This basic instinct can be supported by the fact that most dogs lose their interest once the toy has been dissected and the squeaking mechanism compromised. The second theory is that of cause and effect - your dog might just be enjoying the interaction. While most toys such as tennis balls, frisbees, rubber chewy toys, and tug of war ropes don’t make any sound, they do require companionship. A dog won’t usually be able to occupy themselves for a long period with a single silent toy, most often he’ll bring you the ball to throw around or try to initiate the tug of war. That is because mute toys are less engaging and dogs get bored with them sooner, unless they have someone they can play with. Squeaky toys satisfy your dog’s oral fixation, provide a rewarding auditory feedback thanks to which they keep their attention for a longer period. That’s because the sound provides a simulation of interaction, the dog processes the squeak as a reaction to his biting and therefore won’t need to share the toy with anyone else. Though it’s a favorite among most dogs, don’t worry if your dog isn’t interested in loud toys, be grateful instead. See if your dog responds more to rubber toys that provide resistance as opposed to sound in terms of interaction.
Encouraging the Behavior
If your dog enjoys squeaky toys but at the same time does not seem to get overstimulated and does not show any form of aggression, there is no reason for it not to be able to enjoy its noisy toy. You just have to make sure to keep an eye out in case your dog starts tinkering with the squeaking device inside by trying to chew it out, as it can be a choking hazard. However, if you start seeing signs of aggression and notice that there is a correlation between your dog’s squeaky toy playtime and his behavior, meaning that the squeaking toy might be enticing your dog’s prey drive - try switching it to another toy and see if the situation improves. Remember that it is completely natural for your dog to thrash and chew the squeaking toy with joy and excitement, but your dog should not be completely losing control and definitely should not be growling at you if you try to remove it from his mouth. Lastly, if you see your dog using the squeaky toy to get your attention, do not allow it or encourage it - a similar behavior to demand barking, it is best to ignore it.
Other Solutions and Considerations
Dogs have a lot of energy and need exercise and playtime to have a way to dispel it so it does not build up inside of them. Playing tug of war and chewing on the squeaky toy are great ways to tire them out, but nothing beats long walks and jogs, especially if you start seeing bad behavior in your dog related to his chewy, squeaky toy. It is always best for a dog to have a balance - a variety of activities they can do throughout the day and a choice of toys to play with to avoid them from getting obsessive with a single one. If your dog’s behavior towards his squeaky toy becomes concerning, you can always take him for a session with a dog trainer and go from there.
However, if your canine companion is well behaved and adores his squeaky toy, then let him play with it, just make sure to supervise if you notice excessive chewing to decrease the risk of him choking on the squeaky internal device.
There is nothing wrong with letting your dog enjoy his squeaky toy unless it causes him to act aggressive or he tries to chew on and eat the internal squeaking device inside it. It’s always best to supervise your dog while he’s playing with any toys, especially if he’s a chewer, to avoid potential choking.
By a Shiba Inu lover Patty Oelze
Published: 02/07/2018, edited: 01/30/2020