Do Dogs Think Squeaky Toys Are Alive

Adrienne is a certified dog trainer and former veterinarian assistant who partners with some of the best veterinarians worldwide.

Your dog doesn’t think their squeaky toys are alive.

However, that squeaky toy has similarities to a live animal that makes them appealing for your dog and can set off certain behaviors for them.

There are some other reasons why dogs love squeaky toys.

While it’s true that toys with squeakers simulate a chase and capture scenario for dogs, others theorize that dogs’ obsessions with squeaky toys has to do with immediate gratification. That means that once a toy has squeaked, dogs become kind of obsessed with getting some kind of instant gratification from the sound. Because of this, a dog might feel unable to leave the squeaky toy alone and therefore, might feel compelled to dismantle the squeaker as quickly as possible.

“[Other] dogs just hate the squeaky sound so much that they will destroy the toy to get the squeaky part out,” Dr. Ochoa says.

Think of it this way: Every time your dog bites down on a toy with a squeaker, it squeaks. Right? There’s a cause and effect. This may send some kind of positive message to your dog that has to do with immediate gratification. It’s similar in a way to dog training: When a dog does a correct behavior, she gets a treat as a reward. Immediate gratification. This tells the dog they have done something right. Similarly, when your dog bites down on the squeaker, your dog gets a “treat” of sorts: The sound! This may tell the dog that they are doing the right thing; keep biting the squeaky toy and you will get rewarded with the high-pitched squeaky sound. Interesting, right? Article continues below advertisement

Why Do Dogs Shake Their Toys?

If you watch closely, your dogs toy-shaking behavior mimics what a predator does to prey animals.

If you havent watched many wild animal documentaries, heres a brief explanation. A disclaimer is warranted though: you may want to skip this part if you are squeamish!

When predators capture prey, they have a variety of strategies to make their final kill. Many predators will deliver their killing bite by aiming for the throat area, tearing the animals jugular vein, or maybe one or both carotid arteries, which ultimately leads to a fairly quick death due to massive blood loss.

Smaller animals may be killed by grabbing the animal by the neck area and vigorously shaking it. The goal is to “snap” the animals neck. This shaking is often referred to as the “dog death shake” or “dog kill shake.”

Did you know? Ever wondered why dogs seem to take pleasure in removing all the stuffing from pillows and stuffed toys? In those cases, they are likely “de-gutting their prey,” pulling the innards out in a fun dissection project!

Why Do Dogs Love Toys in General?

Before tackling why dogs go crazy for squeaky toys, it helps to first understand how dogs perceive play and toys in the first place.


Do dogs think they are killing their toys?

Your dog may enjoy their squeaky toy for a variety of reasons, but most dog behavior experts agree that the three main reasons dogs like squeaky toys are related to hunting instincts, chewing, and the sound itself.

Why does my dog cry when she plays with a squeaky toy?

But do dogs think they are killing their toys? It’s more likely that they’re using the toy as a substitute to practice and finesse the move. They may not be aware of this instinctual need to rehearse a kill, it just comes naturally to them to shake their toys after a period of play.

Does my dog think his toy is his baby?

The sight and sound of a fluffy, squeaky toy brings out the natural behavior of protection and urgency to find a place to nurture the toy. There is an emotional attachment to the toy and your dog may feel very concerned about looking after this helpless creature that keeps on squeaking.