If you are a dog owner you may have noticed-they just love squeaky toys, more so than any other toy. After I first got one of my dogs, a spirited German Shepard mix, she used to find stray tennis balls while walking by the public tennis courts with me. She would carry the balls home and we would play catch and fetch.
I would bounce the ball and she would jump high in the air to catch the tennis balls. We always took one to the pond at the off-leash dog park. She learned to swim by chasing the beloved tennis ball. Needless to say, as winter approached our supply of tennis balls dwindled with the number of tennis players. So I went to the Pet Store to buy more; only I happened to buy the Air Dog squeaky balls. Now, she cares nothing for regular tennis balls.
Theories Explain Why Dogs Prefer Squeaky Toys
There are at least two theories that try to explain our canine friends’ preferences for squeaky toys. Dogs were domesticated from the Gray Wolf about 15,000 years ago. Gray wolves are pack hunters. Pack hunters are predators. They work together to distract and attack the prey. Complex behaviors that dogs inherited from their Gray Wolf ancestors are thought to be what helps humans to form relationships with their dogs.
The squeaking toy may work to remind our dogs’ natural instincts of the captured prey. The smaller rodent type animals that are caught in the gripping ripping teeth of the wolf will make a high pitched squeaking noise.The squeaking of the prey lets the wolf know that it is dying and will soon be ready for feeding upon.
I noticed that when my dog would catch her squeaky ball she liked to take it under an azalea bush I had growing in the backyard. Here she would rip and tear at the ball often to the point of disabling the device inside that made the squeaking noise. Could it have been that the Azalea bush represented going into a cave? Was the ripping until the squeaking stopped representative of killing and readying the prey for food?
Another theory exists that the squeaking provides continuous reinforcement as in operant conditioning. The squeak is a reinforcer or reward associated for playing with you. Or it could be that the dog just enjoys the squeaky toy because it is interactive and helps to keep the dog entertained.
Some dogs seem to care nothing for squeaky toys and may even be afraid of them. I once had a dachshund that did not really care one way or the other.She considered herself more human than a dog anyway! This may be explained as some dogs breeds having a stronger prey instinct than others.
Whatever the reason or reasons ( I tend to think there are more than one) for dogs loving squeaky toys safety can be an issue for them. The more squeaking the more excited the dog becomes. Many dogs will chew the toy until it “kills” its prey.
The result could be pulling out the squeaker and presenting a choking hazard. It is important to choose safe toys for your dog. There are new squeaky toys available that are practically indestructible.
The squeakers are large, well hidden and keep on squeaking even when punctured over and over by the dog’s sharp teeth. Not only are they safer they are more economical as well. You don’t have to keep replacing boring toys that don’t squeak anymore!
Make sure that any “features” on the toy such as eyes and noses are stitched on and can’t be easily pulled off. That can provide choking hazards as well.
Can’t take all that squeaking? Thanks to new technology there are even squeaky toys available that only your dog can hear! These toys have ultrasonic squeakers and are no more expensive than regular squeaky toys. Check them out!
Have safe and satisfying fun with your dog and these great new toys!