If my dog were a Medieval monarch, his nickname would be Tucker the Eradicator of Squeaky Toys (and Bringer of Beers). His sturdy teeth and powerful paws are frighteningly adept at dismembering them, unearthing the cacophonous squeaker and guaranteeing that it squeaks no more.
While some hounds make better squeaker destroyers than others, most of them will readily attempt to exhume the plastic windbags often hidden away in their toys.
Turns out, it all boils down to instinct.
“In the wild, prey animals make that high-pitched shriek as a last Hail Mary for parents or allies to come and help,” says Brian Hare, professor of evolutionary anthropology and author of Survival of the Friendliest. “Dogs are omnivores and probably evolved to eat trash, but they do come from a long line of predators. Most predators know that the prey’s not dead until it’s stopped squeaking. So dogs eviscerating stuffies and chewing the squeaker until it stops is a behavior that’s related to their prey drive.”
You may not want to think about your wee Buster having murderous impulses, but remember, squeaker toys provide dogs the amusement of the chase without any actual death involved. “Even though dogs have been domesticated to the point of relying on us for survival, they’re still inherently predators, and there are still some instincts in there that might make us cringe,” says Anna Mynchenberg, training expert at BARK.
“Squeaky toys are a great example. The squeak resembles a high-pitched thrill from their prey, which gives them the satisfaction of a successful hunt. The more a toy resembles prey, the better. Once they hear that squeak and feel the toy in their mouth, they feel a sense of satisfaction. There’s a chance they may not even realize why. You can also see this play out when the squeak is hard to create, or the squeak is ‘dead’ — you’ll notice that most dogs lose interest.”
Note, however, that once your dog successfully removes the squeaker, you should dispose of it quickly to keep them from choking. In fact, as a precautionary measure, you might as well toss any toys that are notably damaged. Not only that, but also make sure to buy the right squeaker toys for your dog — most come in different sizes depending on how much your dog weighs, so shop accordingly. Better yet, consider sticking to squeaker toys that are made from durable rubber, rather than cloth. And if your dog ever swallows a squeaker, immediately call your veterinarian, check their mouth to see if it can be removed easily, and especially if your dog has gone unconscious, consider performing the Heimlich maneuver.
Well, well, well, Tucker the Eradicator of Squeaky Toys. Looks like we need to go get you another squeaker to slay, since you annihilated your last one in all of three seconds.