Squeaky toys: They’re either tons of fun or a pet parent’s worst nightmare. Dogs who like squeaky toys tend to really love them, meaning they chomp and squeak on their plush or rubber toys all day and all night. But what is behind the adoration of these squeaky, loud, and potentially headache-inducing toys?
Experts can’t be 100% sure on the answer, but they do have a few theories as to why so many dogs love to get their squeak on. Aside from the “why,” however, there are also some considerations to make about squeaky toys to ensure your pet’s safety and enrichment.
3 squeaky toy theories
Without the power to speak, dogs can’t communicate to us exactly why they find squeaky toys so entertaining. Even if they could, though, it might be difficult for them to describe their reasons, because their attachment to high-pitched squeaks or quacks might be rooted in their biology.
Here are three main ideas as to why dogs are so drawn to these noisy toys:
- Prey instinct: One of the most widely accepted ideas about why dogs love squeaky toys harkens back to their biological predatory instincts. Before dogs were fed in bowls inside our homes, they needed to hunt and kill their own food. It’s suspected that because small animals that dogs or wolves hunt tend to squeak, playing with squeaky toys makes dogs feel like they are “killing” their prey. After a squeaker is destroyed or removed from a toy, you may discover that your dog is no longer interested, since the toy is “dead.”
- Sound feedback: Another potential reason is that dogs simply get joy out of playing with a toy and hearing a sound in return. The squeaking of their toys incentivizes their chewing and provides additional mental stimulation, whereas silent toys might be boring to pups. Over time, your dog may come to expect a squeak out of their toys and not be interested in ones that make no sound.
- They attract attention: One last potential reason for your dog’s obsession with squeaky toys might actually be linked to your reaction to the squeaking. If your dog picks up a squeaky toy and you come to take it from them and play with them because you’re annoyed with the squeaking, they may begin to associate squeaky toys with your attention, leading them to play with them even more.
The reason your dog likes squeaky toys so much may never be apparent to you—it might be one or a combination of these theories, or something else entirely. Regardless of the reason, though, you ultimately have control over what toys your dog plays with.
If you really can’t stand the squeaking, avoid purchasing squeaky toys and find other toys your dog likes to play with. However, if squeaky toys provide your pup with endless joy, it might be worth letting them have a little bit of noisy fun.
Are squeaky toys safe?
Aside from the seemingly endless stream of noise squeaky toys can make, many pet parents are concerned whether squeaky toys are safe for their pets. Whether these toys are safe or not ultimately depends on the pet and their supervision.
Some dogs aim to destroy their toys, in which case they can quickly pull toys apart and swallow the squeaker itself. If this happens, it could potentially cause choking or an intestinal blockage. Buying toys that are harder to destroy, like rubber ones instead of plush or fabric toys, may mitigate this. Watching your pet while they play with the toy and taking it away if they start to destroy it or it looks like it’s going to break can also prevent accidents from happening.
If your dog doesn’t intend to destroy their toys, though, squeaky toys can be quite safe. Just be sure to purchase toys that are an appropriate size for your dog so they don’t pose a choking hazard and inspect the toys frequently to ensure they aren’t being damaged.
One other concern is that some dogs may get too excited when playing with squeaky toys, especially if they consider the toy to be prey or get amped up because of the noise. If your dog gets aggressive, territorial or otherwise overexcited after playing with a squeaky toy, exercise caution over when to give your pup the toy and when it’s appropriate to take it away.
Overall, squeaky toys make excellent options for dogs who like sounds. Even though they might drive us up the wall on occasion, they’re great fun and mentally stimulating, helping to keep our dogs happy and sharp.