Squeaky toys are a popular gift item for dogs, even if their popularity does not always extend to dog owners. There can be no doubt, however, that most dogs like squeaky toys, especially the ones which resemble real life prey. The idea of capturing and ultimately dispatching a rubberized mouse, complete with squeaks, has an appeal all its own to most dog breeds.
One theory on why dogs like toys that squeak is the nature of the squeak. In the wild, an injured prey animal would emit similar squeaks and cries, thereby revealing its position and condition. Dogs with strong natural hunting instincts recognize the squeaks of a squeaky toy as the last cries of field mice, birds and other small prey. The noise generated by a rubber or plush variation on a prey animal can be just as satisfying to a dog.
There are also those who suggest the squeak of a squeaky toy is somewhat incidental. What dogs like about squeaky toys is what they enjoy about all dog toys. They have complete access to an interactive toy which satisfies their natural chewing habit and keeps their minds occupied. Dogs like squeaky toys because they are more interactive than other toys. A dog bites down on a rubberized bone and it immediately squeaks. This sets up a pleasant cause-and-effect relationship with that particular dog toy.
Some pet experts suggest matching the dog with the toy, and some larger breeds do not do particularly well with standard squeaky toys. They may chew and bite the toy more aggressively than smaller breeds, which in turn may dislodge the squeak mechanism completely. While this may not be the worst development for dog owners, the squeak mechanism can present a choking hazard to the dog. Smaller dog breeds with gentler play habits tend to do better with squeaky toys.
Many dogs tend to chew on their toys, especially ones which respond to their efforts, so it is generally a good idea to invest in rubberized dog toys rather than plush toys with squeakers. Many dogs like squeaky toys which can follow them from indoor to outdoor environments, and plush toys tend to get soiled quickly when exposed to the outside world. Rubber squeaky toys can also be cleaned and sanitized more easily, although no dog toy is completely safe from a dog's diligent chewing efforts. Owners should replace damaged rubber squeaky toys once they have been structurally compromised.