There are few things THAT a dog finds more gratifying than the constant “Squeak! SQUEAK!” of a squeaky-toy. My favorite squeaky-toy was a hedgehog. May he rest in peace. Ever since I was little, I tugged the hedgehog and flung him in the air. One time I ripped a hole in my hedgehog and it fell apart. There was fluffy stuffing everywhere and I was like, “Uh Oh.” That happened with a lot of my squeaky toys after that.
As a serial squeaky-toy assassin, I’ve been asked several times what is it about noisy toys that dogs love so much? Certainly, it can’t be simply to disrupt their humans’ quiet time. As it turns out, there are several reasons why dogs prefer these noisemakers over quieter toys.
The most popular notion is that squeaky-toys elicit a wild instinct inherent deep inside dogs to catch and kill small prey. Hearing the peeps triggers our prey drive and reminds us of the thrill of the hunt. Though a Dachshund or a Chihuahua may not look much like a wolf, we still harbor at least a hint of the wolf-like drive. This explains why dogs tend to lose interest when the squeaker is no longer heard—it signals that the critter is dead, and it’s time to move on. Of course, some dogs are never satisfied until the toy is completely destroyed.
A simpler—and less savage—explanation is that dogs like squeaky-toys because they, well, squeak. When we chomp down, we get a sound. It’s as easy as that. The noise a toy makes sparks our reward center and causes good feelings in our brain, which encourages more squeezing. A silent toy gives no response when we chew it or bat it around. Where’s the fun in that?
Another reason for a dog’s fascination with squeaky-toys could be some trait or characteristic we develop through our interactions with humans. When you think about it, a squeaky-toy is a powerful tool for getting something we crave—attention from humans. It may not always be good attention, but in a dog’s mind, that’s still better than no attention at all.
Dogs probably don’t realize it, but our beloved squeaky-toys give us mental enrichment. Chewing on one provides mental stimulation dogs need and want. And tossing and chasing the noisy little friend helps us exercise. The activity is a distraction which can lessen feelings of anxiety.
Sometimes, though, dogs get a little too enthusiastic and try to tear out the squeaker piece. As a rule, keep a close eye and an open ear on your dog when they play with a squeaky-toy. If you no longer hear the squee-squee noise, it may be a sign that your best friend has ahem neutralized the noisemaker. One gulp and your dog could swallow it whole—that’s dangerous, and it could mean a trip to the vet and the operating table.
It’s safe to say that squeaky-toy love is a widespread phenomenon. Many dogs go absolutely bonkers for squeaky-toys, and though not every dog will have the same level of gusto, there’s no denying the chirpy little toys generate a great deal of curiosity with an instant reward. What more could you want?
Davi the dachshund loves his squeaky pals at playtime … OK, all the time!