Have you ever purchased a toy for your dog thinking that it’s going to be their new favorite, only to quickly find it discarded in some corner of your house? Any dog owner will agree that finding a toy your pet will love can be more complicated than you’d expect. Fortunately, it turns out that there is some logic behind the seemingly random toy preferences of your furry friend.
Researchers at the University of Bristol decided to delve deeper into how dogs play, leading to some interesting findings about what type of toys they like best and which they tire of quickly.
What the researchers found was that dogs prefer toys with the shortest lifespan. In other words, toys that they can tear apart a few hours, or even minutes, after it’s given to them. The reason for this is that dogs perceive their toys in the same way that a wolf perceives their prey; they want it to react when they engage with it.
This is why dogs prefer toys that either taste like food, can be torn apart, or make sounds. In the wild when dogs would hunt for their prey, the prey would emit sounds similar to the squeak of today’s pet toys while the dog searched for and consumed it.
Toys that squeak and are soft and malleable trigger this same instinctive drive, which is why dogs become so fixated on them.
Knowing this, it’s pretty easy to look at your dog’s toys and see why they prefer one to the other. The durable rope or rubber toy is silent and doesn’t have much give to it when your dog plays with it.
Just because your dog prefers toys that are easily destroyed doesn’t mean that you’re destined to a house filled with the remnants of toys passed; there are ways you can make their durable toys more exciting.
Engaging your dog in a game of fetch or tug-of-war is a great way to pique your dog’s interest in a toy. Another easy way is to remove the toy and reintroduce it every once in a while, as this will make it seem more novel.
If all else fails, soaking a rope toy in beef or chicken broth might do the trick, because we all know dogs can’t resist a tasty treat, even if it’s silent!