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    Why Do Dogs Shake Their Toys?

    Authored by Tractor Supply Company

    Types of squeaky toys

    One of the things dog owners love is how excitable their pets are. You can’t stop that smile from coming to your face when you watch your canine perk up, wag his tail, and prance around at just hearing the word “walk.” Dogs love everything from sticking their head out of car windows to treats to toys and playtime.

    Pet parents love making their pets happy, and an easy way to do this is with toys. The type of dog toy that you choose for your dog can be a difficult decision. There are so many different toys to choose from.

    Dog tug toys are beloved by dogs that enjoy a game of tug-and-war. Chew toys are great for the pups that like to sink their teeth in everything they can get their paws on. Dog squeak toys rank high among canine favorites, and even some tug and chew toys come with those highly desired squeakers.

    There are all sorts of shapes, colors, materials, and sizes when it comes to squeaky toys. Just to name a few examples, balls, rings, sticks, and toys made to look like all sorts of enticing animals make that highly valued squeaker sound your dog will not be able to ignore. Some toys even have multiple squeakers, adding more fun to your pet’s seemingly insatiable habit to create that squeaking noise.

    The nonstop squeak-squeak-squeak can be a nuisance to pet owners, however. For that reason, dog toy manufacturers have also started making silent squeakers. Some of these toys operate at a frequency that is too high for human ears to hear, while others have the option of muting the squeaker.

    So what gets your dog to react when he gets his jowl around that squeaky toy? Read on to find out.

    What a dog hears when a toy squeaks

    If you’re a dog owner, then you know firsthand how happy your pup is when you bring him home his new toy and how thrilled he is to discover the squeaker inside. You also know what it’s like to live with the incessant squeaking that has your dog obsessing over the toy. If only the squeaky sound was as pleasant on pet-parent ears as it is on dog ears. But have you ever wondered what it is exactly that possesses your canine to get that toy to squeak over and over again?

    Squeaky toys are an instant hit among dogs—and for good reason. Something about that sound is simply too irresistible to the canine personality. The attraction to this sound has its roots in the wild nature present in our domesticated pets.

    Our four-legged best friends are descendants of wolves, and wolves, of course, hunt for their food. Researchers believe that as part of this genetic heritage, your dog associates the sound of a squeaky toy with the sound of prey. Their instinct tells them to chew until what they perceive as a scared or injured animal is in effect “dead,” that is until the squeaky toy stops squeaking.

    Along with terriers, sporting and herding breeds tend to be the fondest of squeaky toys. The hunting instinct is especially strong in these canines. A pet with a strong predatory instinct like this will most likely be highly engaged when playing with a squeaky toy. Squeaky toys do more for dogs than activate the innate hunting instinct. 

    Behaviors dogs may exhibit when playing with squeaky toys

    There are many reasons why dogs enjoy playing with squeaky toys. As mentioned above, these toys emit sounds that dogs associate with prey. The desire to destroy the toy stems from the deeply ingrained hunting nature in our canine pets.

    The squeaky sound is all the more enticing because it also offers instant gratification. The squeak tells your pup that his bite is effective. This reward-stimulating behavior is what encourages your dog to keep biting and biting.

    All of the high-energy activity that goes into playing with a squeaky toy is also good for the health of your pet. Adequate exercise through play helps dogs release pent-up energy. After playing, your dog will be more relaxed and less likely to engage in unwanted behavior.

    Chewing on toys can also improve dental health in your pets. If your pup is active with his chew toy, he may be unwittingly removing plaque from his teeth while massaging his gums. Overall this leads to better dental health. Plus, unlike hard chew toys, squeaky toys are usually softer and gentler on your canine’s teeth.

    Always supervise play

    It is extremely important to keep an eye on your furry friend during play. Squeaky toys can be dangerous. The last thing you want is for your pets to end up requiring emergency care, including surgery, from swallowing something that was not intended to be ingested.

    Many squeaky toys are made of a plush outer layer packed with stuffing and a squeaker on the inside. The squeaker is a device similar to a bladder and is designed with a small opening. When the bladder device is compressed, air passes out of the whistle-like mechanism built into the opening, creating the high-pitch squeak that dog owners know all too well.

    At some point, all toys will start to break down after use. Dogs find a way to tear holes in the plush and remove the stuffing and squeaker. This behavior is a normal expression of the hunting instinct.

    What makes squeaky toys dangerous for dogs is that squeakers can be a choking hazard. This is why it is always important to supervise your dog during play. By observing or playing with your dog, you can make sure he does not swallow the squeaker or anything else he is not supposed to, like the stuffing in stuffed animals. If your pup manages to accidentally swallow the squeaker or other parts of the toy, call your veterinarian immediately. Your vet will be able to tell you what steps to take next.

    Aside from supervising play, inspecting toys is also an important action you can take to prevent your dog from ingesting the toy or its parts. Check your dog’s toys on a regular basis. Look for any holes in the plush or signs of other damage. Throw away or repair toys that are not intact. Keeping your dog’s toys in good condition helps keep your pet safe and makes sure you don’t end up with high veterinary bills from your dog requiring emergency treatment.

    More than just the squeak

    While your dog may love playing with his squeaky toy, he may be getting more out of it than just following his wolflike instincts. Dogs, like their wolf relatives, are highly social creatures. When dog owners join in, playtime becomes even more fun for pets. Dogs do have the reputation of being man’s best friends after all.

    As a dog owner, you have probably noticed that your pet perks up when you get involved in playtime. Your interest makes him more focused on the activity. Games like tug and fetch are great ways to engage your dog in play, and they provide the mental stimulation that all dogs need. At the same time, you will also be strengthening your bond with your four-legged friend. And by playing with your dog regularly, you will be more attuned to any abnormal behavior in your dog, including signs that could indicate illness.

    By playing with your pooch, you may not realize you’re training him, but you are. During playtime, you are helping to reinforce positive behavior. When dogs get bored, they are more likely to engage in destructive activities. They will express this unwanted behavior by chewing on shoes, furniture, and anything else they are not supposed to. Keeping your dog active with toys helps him learn what is acceptable as a chew toy and what is not. Plus, a tired dog will have less energy to spend on undesired behavior.

    Play is also a great time to teach your dog when he is being too rough. When you notice aggressive or unwanted behavior, simply stop playing the game. This lets your dog know that it is not okay to bite or be bullish.

    When playing with his favorite squeaky toy, your dog will also expend a lot of energy. Exercise is important for your dog’s health, especially for heart health. Having enough playtime lets your dog burn off some calories before spending the evening cuddled up nice and cozy on your lap.

    Highly desired toys like squeaky toys are great tools for positive reinforcement training. Check out dog obedience training tips to learn more about basic obedience for your pet. In this article, you will learn how to better understand your dog and how to encourage acceptable behavior.

    Do dogs have a favorite toy?

    Like humans, dogs, too, pick favorites. You may notice your dog playing with one toy more than the others. Some dogs prefer playing with toys they can fetch. Balls and disk toys make great toys for this purpose. Breeds that are fond of these chasing games include border collies, Australian shepherds, rat terriers, and all retrievers. Your dog’s personality will be the ultimate factor when it comes to toy preference.

    Dogs that have a favorite toy can be very protective of the toy. Pets that exhibit this possessive aggression do so out of an animal’s need to survive in the wild. In order for you to prevent this aggressive behavior, it is necessary to train your dog correctly. You can do this by teaching your dog to drop the toy and leave it alone on command. Other times a diversion (like a treat or something else of value) can also produce the result you are trying to achieve as your dog is learning to master this skill.

    Best toys for dogs that like squeaky toys

    As mentioned earlier, most dogs love a great squeaky toy, and some breeds will show a stronger preference for squeaky toys than others. The size of the dog does make a difference when it comes to picking out the right squeaky toy. One thing you may want to consider is that smaller-sized toys will be best for smaller dogs, as smaller dogs may have a hard time picking up a large toy in their mouth.

    The toy’s material should also be taken into consideration when you’re picking out the new squeaky toy. If your dog is a destructive or aggressive chewer, you may want to go with a more durable material like rubber. On the other hand, if your dog has sensitive teeth or gums, you may want to stick with a plush toy that will be softer on the mouth.

    No matter what breed or size of dog you have, squeaky toys are quick to become the favorites of your pooch. The more loved the toy, the more time your dog will spend with it. And when you get involved in playtime with your pup, you will not only be watching out for your dog’s safety by making sure he doesn’t swallow the squeaker or other parts of the toy, but you will also be encouraging good behavior and forging a deeper relationship with your furry pal.

    If you’re looking for a way to brighten your pup’s day, a new squeaky toy will be sure to give him many hours of entertainment. Whether you’re looking for balls that squeak or plush squeaky toys that resemble animals, Tractor Supply offers a variety for your favorite four-legged friend. Subscribe to our autoship program and receive regular deliveries of food, treats, flea & tick preventatives, supplements and more, all while saving you time and money.