Why Do Dogs Play With Toys?

Written by: Dr. Katy Nelson

November 14, 2018

It turns out that toys aren’t just things your dog likes to play with – they actually serve a vital purpose in a dog’s mental and physical development. They’re also powerful tools for behavior modification.

The truth of the matter is that your dog isn’t really thinking of any of these things when they pull their favorite toy out of the basket – they’re just interested in having a grand old time. But just because your dog isn’t thinking about why they’re so focused on shredding their new Super Chewer toy or yanking on a tug bug, it doesn’t mean there aren’t deeper reasons behind playing around in the first place.

Let’s take a look at some of the types of toys dogs like to play with and what drives some of their behaviors during playtime.

Why Do Dogs Play With Fetch Toys?

Dog Playing With BarkBox Best Balls Ever

Long before we thought of dogs simply as our good buddies, they served various utilities in households around the world. One of those utilities was hunting and/or retrieving food. That behavior has been cooked into many breeds’ DNA over thousands of years. It’s natural and even pleasurable for a dog to seek out and return things to their human. It’s also why some dogs love to play with Fetch Toys like the “Best Balls Ever.”

Why Do Dogs Like Squeaker Toys?

There are a few different theories as to why dogs love the totally pleasant, wonderfully soothing sounds emitted by a squeaker toy.

Pit Bull Playing with BarkBox Toy

The first theory has to do with genetics. Despite the fact that your sweet doggo might fit in a tote bag, they’re only a few evolutionary steps removed from their wolf ancestors. And wolves hunt other creatures for dinner. Those creatures tend to make a lot of noise while being hunted. Go figure! So when your dog goes wild on their favorite squeaker, what they’re actually doing is responding to their instinct to hunt (and destroy) their “prey.”

Dogs also love getting attention from their humans. And guess what? There are few things more effective at getting a human to stop whatever they’re doing and pay attention to their dog than the incessant yelps of a squeaker.

Why Do Dogs Like Chewing Toys?

Big dog with super chewer toy

Dogs explore the world and interact with it differently than their human counterparts. Where a human might use their hand to do something, a dog uses their mouth. Naturally, this leads to a lot of chewing. Their are many different explanations as to why a dog might chew something, but one of the most obvious ones is that the thing your dog is chewing on tastes or smells downright delicious. High-energy or anxious dogs also tend to chew a lot as a way to relieve boredom or stress.

Why Dogs Like To Destroy Plush Toys?

As we’ve already discussed, there are a variety of genetic or breeding factors that lead to a dog’s desire to chew, tug, retrieve, pull, and so on. Because of the wealth and variety of breeds around the world, there is no single reason as to why dogs shred their toys. The shred because they’re bored, they shred because it’s in their nature, but most of the time, they shred because it’s fun!

For a more thorough in-depth take on the topic of dog toy destruction, check out this article.

And if your dog has a habit of destroying toys – and you’d really rather they not – consider getting them some Super Chewer options at BarkShop (or a Super Chewer BarkBox subscription). Even the toughest of canine teeth will have trouble ripping a hard rubber “Max the Marching Penguin” or a Benebone Pawplexer to smithereens.

Why Do Dogs Like Tug Toys?

Dogs With BarkBox Tug ToyAs with some of the other behaviors we’ve discussed, a dog’s love of tugging comes down to two things: 1) Playing tug o’ war with humans or even other dogs gives your dog the opportunity to bond and spend time with friends new and old. 2) The push and pull aspect activates your dog’s predation instincts. In the wild, killing prey often involves the pulling, twisting, and snapping motions your dog uses during tug of war.

Why Are Puzzle Toys Good For Dogs?

Dachshund Wiener Dog With BarkBox Puzzle Toy Tornado

Dogs are thinkers. They’re naturally inquisitive and they love exploring. One thing they certainly don’t like to be is bored. Puzzle or Thinker Toys are a great way to keep dogs engaged, especially if they’re home alone for extended periods of time.

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Written by: Dr. Katy Nelson

November 14, 2018

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