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This answer was provided by one of our fantastically generous readers, Jason S (you can read his other post here).
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I’ve discovered a new truth about life that applies to almost all dog owners. I didn’t set out to make history, and yet, here I am.
This truth dawned on me early one morning as I was enjoying my beauty rest in bed.
My German Shepherd, Digit, found his favorite squeaky toy from where I’d banished it in the living room the night before.
With a grin as wide as a tow truck, he picked up his toy and stuck his adorable wet nose against my cheek.
Just as I thought I was being woken up from my blissful sleep with puppy kisses, he honked that thing right in my ear.
The universal truth that shook me awake that morning is this – dog owners get a new alarm clock every day. Some dogs may not wake their owners up with the gift of a toy.
My pitbull, Prime, prefers to whine gently from across the room like a hungry ghost at six a.m. Digit prefers to squeak all his favorite toys, assuming I’ll love it as much as he does.
While I scooped breakfast into their bowls, I wondered why he loves squeak toys so much. There has to be a reason why my eardrums burst every morning, right?
After a little research, I’ve learned all the ins and outs of living with squeak toys.
There’s no way to get rid of them once your dog has fallen in love, but after you learn how great they are for puppy fun and development, you’ll stop wanting to avoid the squeak toy aisle in the pet store.
Read on to learn what amazed me about these toys so you can love them just as much as your pup.
What Makes Them Fun
Even the tiniest, fluffiest poodles love a good squeak toy, so try to take a mental step back from your dog and picture their ancestors.
Dogs are descended from wolves, so while they’ve been bred to be fluffy, happy housemates, they still have instincts that call back to their wolf heritage.
Most dogs will naturally love to run and chase down small animals like birds and squirrels because it kicks in their hunting instinct.
When wolves hunt for food, their prey end up making squeaky sounds after they’re caught.
Fluffy the Chihuahua probably never had to hunt for her own food, but it’s what her mind is thinking of when she squeaks her favorite toy. The sound encourages dogs to keep attacking, until the sound is gone.
Once they’ve ripped out the squeaker or destroyed it completely, their “prey” doesn’t need to be attacked anymore and they can move on to the next toy.
How to Get the Right Kind
Dogs are going to attack squeak toys with more effort and attention than most toys, so don’t get them any old squeak toy you find in a clearance bin.
Look for quality toys that are made of thicker fabric and heavy seams. Thick seams and tough materials will be more difficult for your dog to chew through in an afternoon.
You can also keep an eye out for any squeak toys that are advertised as being waterproof too, so the wear and tear of chewing will have less effect.
What They Don’t Do
You already know that squeak toys help encourage a dog’s natural predator side, but you may have heard some myths surrounding dog squeaky toys.
Worried pet parents don’t want to accidentally do anything to harm their dog, which is where the myths get started.
One big myth is that squeaky toys will teach dogs that biting is okay.
This just isn’t true, since dogs would have to confuse an adult human being with a tiny toy.
Humans will also react with a much louder, slightly aggressive sound if they’re bitten, which immediately teaches any dog who might be confused that you don’t bite people.
Another myth is that squeak toys are too stimulating for puppies. You don’t want your dog to be overwhelmed by the squeaking sound, since it may lead to a large amount of fear later in life when other loud sounds occur.
Again, this myth is false.
Dogs of all ages can enjoy their squeak toys, as long as you watch them so they don’t accidentally swallow any piece of the toy.
How to Take Care of Them
No matter what kind of dog toy you’re dealing with, they’re all going to require a different level of care.
Some toys are made to be out in the yard during the whole year, so they’ll be fine if they get muddy or soaked.
Others are fluffier, lighter, or made with weaker materials, so they’ll have washing instructions printed on their tags.
The best way to know how to take care of your dog’s squeak toys is to look at what it comes in to see if there are any washing instructions. Otherwise, check the tag.
Some squeakers will inhale water when a squeeze is released, effectively ruining the toy.
Spot cleaning is always a safe way to take care of any stains or dirt without getting too involved in the cleaning process.
Wrapping it Up
I’m pretty sure that squeaky toys have changed the lives of my dogs. They’re fine with their stuffed animals and tug ropes, but when I toss them a squeaky toy, they light up like a Christmas tree.
If you notice that your dog tends to grab their louder toys when it’s playtime, just let them have their fun. They’ll get to enjoy the wolf side of their genes that they don’t even know about.
This is what I’m telling myself when I get those early morning squeak toys in my ear. I may prefer the more pleasant beeping of a traditional alarm clock, but then I’d be missing out on the puppy grins and love I get from my dogs.
When you’re a dog owner, you have to balance the safety of your dog with what they find fun. Thankfully, squeak toys are no compromise at all.