Dogs love squeaky toys. What's not to love? They're colorful, fun, and noisy! But why do dogs love squeaky toys? What drives them so crazy when they hear that fresh, new, ready-for-the-chewing squeak? As it turns out, there's something in your dog's DNA that makes them go crazy for those fun little toys.
There is a biological instinct in dogs to hunt, and that little squeak some toys let out reminds them a lot of the thrill of the hunt. Specifically, it gives them the rush of hearing their prey dying. Yep, they love squeaky toys so much because they sound like the whimper of a weaker animal breathing its last breath. Less cute, huh?
There are plenty of reasons why dogs love squeaky toys, but trust us, they're all pretty gruesome.
Many animals – including humans – have some type of predatory instinct. For us, it's a flight-or-fight response. But, for more predatory animals – like dogs – their predatory instinct stems from their desire to hunt. Domesticated dogs are typically less dangerous than their wild counterparts, but they still have a hunting instinct.
Some of that presents itself in how domesticated dogs play with their toys. In the wild, a predatory sequence includes: searching, stalking, chasing, catching, biting, killing, and eating. The sound in a squeaky toy sounds like weaker prey, which sets off a dog's sequence. That's why they get so excited when they hear the noise, and that's why they basically tear it to pieces.
Sometimes predatory dogs can be actual menaces. Dogs are known to attack people, to bite, and to destroy property, but most domesticated dogs can be trained to avoid said behaviors. Dogs do, however, still exhibit less bothersome predatory behaviors.
Take, for instance, chasing other, smaller animals like cats or rabbits. Or ripping apart stuffed toys and shaking them back and forth aggressively. Or chasing sticks and balls. These are all types of predatory instincts they inherited from their ancestors hunting for food. A lot of times, these behaviors are harmless, but if they're not separated from aggressive or territorial actions, things can get pretty dicey.
There are plenty of strategies out there to curb aggressive dog behavior. Training is a huge way to "rewire" a dog to get out their predatory energy in a way that isn't harmful to humans (or property). There are lots of different types of training: leash training, using a muzzle sparingly, and using commands, among others.
And while there are ways to reduce aggressive behaviors, experts say it's normal and healthy for predatory animals to exhibit certain hunting behaviors. Which is exactly why they recommend giving dogs toys – like squeaky toys – and giving them plenty of exercise to burn off excessive energy.