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squeaky toys

December 21, 2016

PetSafe® Expert

Amy Shojai, CABC

Why Dogs Destroy Squeaker Toys

My German Shepherd, Magic, has always loved to "kill" the squeakers in his toys. It doesn't matter what size the toy--plastic, rubber, fabric or stuffie--Magic makes it his goal to gnaw the toy into submission and excise the noisy lure.

Why Dogs Target Squeakers

squeaky toys

There are several things happening with squeakers that make them so appealing to many dogs. All dogs display predatory aggression, a normal instinct that involves stalking, chasing, catching, biting, killing and eating and is mimicked during play. In most domestic dogs, these behaviors have been modified to a level that stops short of doing damage to other animals.

Sound & Silence

dog prey drive

Movement and sound triggers the behavior. Joggers, bicyclist, playing children, and moving cars or tossed balls stimulate the prey drive. The high-pitched cries of puppies, babies and young children also triggers predatory behavior. Not just the sound, but a sudden silence (as happens when a prey animal "freezes") also provokes attack.

The squeaker inside a tossed or mauled toy mimics the distress cries of prey. Some of these squeakers may also sound on decibel levels even more attractive to dogs. Your dog can hear approximately the same low-pitched sounds that you can, but while we typically hear sound waves up to 20,000 cycles per second, dogs may hear frequencies as high as 100,000 cycles per second. The size of the dog breed doesn't seem to affect their hearing ability; small dogs like Dachshunds seem able to hear just as well as big dogs like the St. Bernard.

Hidden Treasure Puzzle

dog puzzle toys

The sound of the squeaker hidden inside a soft, furry object or plastic toy teases the dog the same way a mouse in the wall or squirrel in the attack drives him crazy. He wants direct access to the source of the sound. Maybe your dog imagines there's a critter inside the toy, so he's eager to gnaw his way to the source. For Magic, it becomes a contest or game to see how quickly he can reach the inside prize, sort of like munching through a box of Cracker Jacks to find that promised toy.

Chewy Delight

puppy chewing toys

Puppies are notorious chewers while teething, But most dogs won't out-grow the chewing urge. They use chewing to relieve boredom, explore their world, manipulate objects, and because it feels good.

The squeaker sound inside of toys entices dogs to chew and bite the toy. The sound and the feeling of biting rewards the dog even further. How many of us have confiscated squeaker-toys when the dog drove us NUTS bite-bite-biting the toy over and over to make it squeal. That's great fun and a reward of cause-effect that your dog can control.

The impulse to target squeakers comes naturally to most dogs. Whether they destroy toys by wanting to "kill" the squeaker, or simply enjoy chasing and gnawing the noisy toy varies between dogs. That may depend on size of the jaws, and personality of the pet.

The combination of noise, mouth feel, and puzzle appeal when offered to a predatory creature like your dog means almost certain death for squeakers. Of course, care must be taken that dogs like my Magic don't chew up and swallow dangerous toy parts--or the squeaker could have the last wheezing laugh.

Written by

Amy Shojai, CABC

Amy Shojai, CABC

Pet Expert

PetSafe® Expert

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