Pet stores now have tons of awesome dog toys you can get your canine companion. Tug toys, balls, Frisbees, and squeaky toys line the shelves of pet stores and offer your dog almost unlimited entertainment options whether they want to play outside or indoors.
But lots of folks notice that their dogs seem to prefer squeaky toys over any of the others. These well-meaning pet owners then get their dogs squeaky toys without considering the potential downsides.
What exactly are those downsides, and should you buy your dog a squeaky toy if they really love playing with these types of toys? Let’s take a closer look at the problems unique to squeaky toys and explore some alternatives if you still need to get your dog one or two toys to hold their attention or to divert their excess energy.
The Issues with Squeaky Toys
Squeaky toys are lots of fun for you and your pup, especially if your dog has grown up with squeaky toys ever since they were a puppy. But even though squeaky toys can be enjoyable and are great ways to distract your dog when you have to get work done, they also come with a few complications or potential issues.
Every dog owner already knows this one – some dogs that love their squeaky toys simply won’t. Stop. Squeaking. Them!
It’s cute at first, but the incessant squeak, squeak, squeak of a chew toy can become very grating after a little while. This is doubly true if your dog is still a puppy and has boundless energy to spend chewing on their favorite squeaky toy.
Some squeaky toys are certainly worse in this aspect than others, featuring really loud and obnoxious squeakers that can be heard throughout your home. But even relatively quiet squeaky toys can still become annoying given enough time.
They Can Cause Aggression
More importantly, squeaky toys may cause aggression in dogs, especially if they grow up with the toys as puppies.
Remember, the entire point of having a squeaker inside a chew toy is to stimulate the dog’s prey drive. Dogs are scavengers and carnivorous hunters, meaning they’re born with the drive to catch prey and eat them for food.
That’s right – the cute squeak made from your dog’s favorite toy? It’s actually intended to mimic the squeaks an animal would make if it was getting bitten! Yikes!
Sure, it can still be cute if it’s a furry squeaky toy and your dog loves making the noise. But the squeaks can ramp up your dog's aggression levels and make them too hyper.
In some cases and with certain breeds, the squeaks can also curate a more aggressive response when playing with toys. This is true for all dogs or breeds, of course, but it’s a true enough risk that you may decide to forgo squeaky toys in favor of other options now that you know this potential issue.
It’s even more important to keep this in mind if your dog is a breed with historical tendencies to attack other animals if they aren’t well-trained
So, next time you see your dog violently thrashing a squeaky toy and making it squeal over and over, think again!
Some Squeaky Toys Are Made of Poor Materials
Lastly, there are plenty of subpar squeaky toys on the market that are made of poor materials, like cheap plastic or even BPA plastic. BPA plastic is bad for the environment and can cause digestive or health issues for your dog if any plastic material is swallowed over the course of play.
As touched on above, squeaky toys can make your dog chew and thrash more aggressively than normal. If the plastic or other materials aren’t durable enough, it’s all too easy for your dog to tear off small strips or pieces of their chew toy over time.
If they ingest some of those pieces, they can choke, have digestive problems, or even be exposed to mild poisoning depending on the type of plastics or other materials used in the toy’s manufacturing.
Suffice it to say that squeaky toys aren’t the safest toys you can buy. While it’s true that almost all dog toys can eventually be worn down or broken by pups playing with them, squeaky toys get a lot more attention because of the noise they make. So your dog may break down their favorite squeaky toy faster than they would break down another toy in their playpen.
- Bottom line: choose other toys if you want to lower the potential for digestive issues or potential choking hazards.
Alternatives to Squeaky Toys
So, if squeaky toys are off the table, what are your alternative options? Luckily, pet stores like Wild One and even normal pet retail stores have plenty of other toy choices to browse.
Tug toys are some of the best in the industry, both for regular playing or for teaching your dog to play nicely with others.
Tug is a universally fun activity for dogs, especially when they’re puppies. Tug games help to stimulate their competitive spirit as well as strengthen their jaw and leg muscles. At the same time, games of tug help your dog realize there are limits to play and prevent them from using their teeth to play in potentially harmful ways, like biting your fingers or legs.
Fortunately, tug toys don’t come with the same downsides as squeaky toys. You can find these in a variety of different materials and types.
Take Wild One’s Triangle Tug toy, for instance. It comes made with two shapes and textures and is an ideal choice if you like to play tug-of-war with your pup. It uses only 100% natural rubber and 100% natural cotton for the rope. Reinforced stitching and excellent design throughout means that this toy will last for a long time to come, even if your dog is strong and plays tug more than any other game.
We also make this toy without BPA materials, so there’s no risk to your dog’s health.
Balls and Frisbees
Many dogs also like to play games where they chase balls or other objects in the park or backyard. Balls and frisbees are perfect toy choices for these pups; balls are great for running long distances, and frisbees are ideal for dogs that like to jump in the air and catch their targets.
There are too many ball choices to count, both at pet stores and at superstores where you can buy regular tennis balls. Wild One’s tennis balls can be purchased in sets of four but are much more fun than regular tennis balls. We make them with pet-friendly materials, and each ball includes a super bouncy rubber core that dogs will certainly appreciate.
The more bounce a tennis ball has, the farther it will go and the more entertainment your dog will get out of the game!
Puzzle or Challenge Toys
Dogs need to have their brains stimulated as much as their muscles! For that, you have puzzle toys.
These usually involve having your dog solve simple spatial puzzles in order to get a treat or piece of food. Puzzle toys come in too many different types to describe, and many puzzle toys are categorized by their difficulty level (with lower difficulty puzzles being suitable for puppies and higher difficulty puzzles being better for adult dogs).
We offer a high-quality fetch puzzle toy for dogs in our Twist Toss. This unpredictable bouncing toy encourages active play but can also hold treats to encourage your dog to chase after it and find out where it went. As with all of our toys, it's made with 100% natural rubber that's BPA-free. Even better, it’s dishwasher safe (top rack!), so you can clean away any food bits that might stick around after a play session.
In the end, squeaky toys are far from the only option you have when it comes to purchasing engaging toys for your dog. There are tug toys, balls, and puzzle toys that come in a wide range of types, sizes, and materials – we’ve only scratched the surface with our choices above!
With all this in mind, it may be time to put away any squeaky toys you already have and reconsider purchasing new squeaky toys for your pup. If you have a puppy, get them used to playing with other toys to minimize their potential for aggression. Consider our Toy Gift Set, which includes one of each of our dog toys for ultimate variety and convenience.
Have more questions or want to check out other pet-friendly products and solutions? Wild One is here for you – contact us today or check out our online store!
Why Do Dogs Like Squeaky Toys? | AKC.org
Dog Myths Debunked: Can Playing Tug-Of-War Lead to Aggression in Dogs? | AKC.org
What is BPA? Should I be worried about it? | Mayo Clinic