Why do dogs like squeaky toys?

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Veterinarian reviewed by Dr. Nelva J. Bryant, DVM, MPH - Author: Steph Coelho

Last Updated: September 12, 2023

Impossibly annoying to the human ear but deeply enticing to canines, what’s the deal with high-pitched sounds? Why do so many dogs go nuts for squeaky toys?

Reason on to find out why some dogs go bananas over sound-emitting toys and how to buy toys your dog will love.

Why do dogs like squeaky toys

Squeak, squeak! Wondering why your dog’s favorite toy seems to be the most annoying of them all? There are a few possible reasons for their love of all things squeaky.

It’s instinct

While your cuddly canine friend seems harmless to you, dogs do have an innate prey instinct. Some are more in tune with their inner hunter than others. It’s why your dog might thirst after squirrels while your neighbor’s pup might not even pay attention to the small animals.

It might be that the squeaking sound of squeaker toys seems to mimic prey animals, which gets your dog’s attention and kicks their hunting instincts into high gear. However, there’s no concrete evidence that this is the case.

It’s their personality

Like humans, dogs have varying personalities. Shy, excitable, aloof. This may influence their style of dog play or personal toy preference.

There’s also evidence that different dog breeds prefer varying types of play. One 2017 study found that breeds like retrievers tend more toward playing solo.

Evidence also shows that dogs may remember specific characteristics of their favorite toys, like how it smells. It’s possible that sound is an identifying factor, too.

Human reinforcement theory

Another theory about dogs and their love of squeaky toys is that they love it because humans seem to shower them with attention when they gnaw on something noisy. When humans are involved, dogs are more likely to show interest in specific toys, whether you’re tossing a ball or playing tug-of-rope with a squeaky toy.

7 tips for buying toys that your dog will love

An older 2010 study concludes that dogs are more likely to be interested in toys that make noise and they can easily chew. When shopping for dog toys, pet parents often focus on choosing durable toys. But having a mix of toys, including options your dog can easily sink their teeth into, might offer the most enrichment. Ultimately, the best dog toy is one your pup loves.

Here are seven tips to keep in mind when buying new toys for your pooch:

  1. Opt for a variety of toys for your pup. Try to introduce different types of toys to see what they like, including squeaky and chew toys. Dogs may have individual preferences that may even change as they age.
  2. Durability is important, but so is mouth feel. Who has an unlimited budget for dog toys? When picking toys, opt for things that are tough but offer a bit of softness so your dog can grip them. Kong toys are an excellent example of indestructible toys with a pleasant texture.
  3. Try scented toysResearch suggests that dogs gravitate toward toys with scents more than unscented ones.
  4. Think about solo and partner play. Buy toys that your dog can play with on their own but don’t forget about toys that might be fun for partner games, whether with you or another dog.
  5. Choose softer toys for older dogs. The American Kennel Club (AKC) recommends soft toys for dogs entering their elderly years.
  6. Always supervise a dog that’s prone to destroying their toys. If your dog loves to tear toys apart, it’s a good idea to keep a close eye on them while they gnaw and play — even with super tough toys.
  7. Introduce toys in a fun way. Don’t just grab a new toy from the bag and give it to your dog. Make playtime a game. Hide new toys around the house for your dog to discover.

Worried about dog toys not lasting long enough? Consider rotating the toys you make available to your doggo.


Why do dogs like squeaky toys? There’s no one answer. It might be that it triggers a prey drive in some dogs. For others, it might be part of their personality to find squeakers intriguing. Dogs may also just enjoy squeaky things because you make a fuss when they play with them.

Or maybe it’s just plain fun.


Do dogs think their toys are alive?

To some dog owners it may seem like dogs think their toys are alive. But it’s highly unlikely that dogs think this. Dogs aren’t the smartest in the animal kingdom, but they aren’t completely foolish.

Do dogs enjoy tug-of-war?

Some dogs like to play tug-of-war with their human friends or other dogs. When playing this game with a dog, choose a toy made expressly for this purpose. It should have handles to grab onto and provide enough length that you’re not up close to your dog’s mouth.

Do squeaky toys hurt dogs’ ears?

No. They may sound annoying to you, but it’s the decibels, not the frequency of sound, that can cause hearing damage. And most squeaky toys simply emit high-pitched noises, not super loud ones.

Why do dogs shake their prey?

This is something wolves do to make sure their prey is dead. Since dogs are descended from wolves, this action of shaking a toy from side to side is likely an inherited instinct.

Why do dogs like plush toys?

While many dogs love soft stuffed animals, some are more likely to fall in love with stuffies than others. It’s likely just a personality thing. Some people theorize that the soft feel of stuffed animals brings comfort to dogs.