Why do dogs shake their toys?
If this question has popped up in your head, you aren’t alone.
For a long time, this question has boggled the minds of thousands of dog owners. A dog shakes its toys for many reasons. One of the most sensible justifications for this behavior is that it is an instinctual behavior.
Regardless of their breed, the domesticated dog that we love so much has, after all, descended from the family of wolves. Therefore, it is in their blood to chase, hunt down, and shake their prey in their tight jaws until it breathes it’s last and ends up in their stomach.
In young canines, or puppies to be exact, playing with toys or fighting with other puppies is preparation for the real thing. Biting can be safe until jaw muscles are developed. However, these are just two reasons as to why dogs shake their toys.
Seeing your dog shaking its toy may seem entertaining and like a lot of fun at first. Over time, this simple act can become a problem when your dog starts behaving aggressively and attacking other objects, animals, or children.
Hence you need to know why your dog shakes its toys, so you can address the problem and nip it in the bud.
Thus, in the upcoming paragraphs, we will try and find the answer to the question, “why do dogs shake their toys?”
Why Do Dogs Like to Shake Their Toys?
There are many reasons as to why dogs shake their toys. Here we will discuss all of them. So, let’s break it down.
One of the possible answers to the questions, “why do dogs shake their toys?” is that they are just in a playful mood and want to have some fun.
Despite being a born hunter and a fighter, one of the reasons why your dog is shaking its toys aggressively is that it makes them feel good.
Sometimes, when a dog is in a playful mood, it instantly grabs a toy between its jaws and shows up right in front of you. To grab your attention, the dog may just shake its toy with great force.
Do not confuse this action with aggression and violence, for the dog just wants to play with you. Your dog’s behavior is just its way of saying, “Hey, human! Come play with me”.
Another reason dogs shake their toys is that they want you to take it from them and engage in fetching. Dogs can be big balls of energy, and playing with them can be exhausting, especially if you are old and weak.
Sometimes, during play, you might get tired. If your dog shakes its toy, maybe it’s taunting you to play with them some more.
Dogs also shake their toys to mimic the hunting action. This takes us back to the beginning of the article. For some dog owners, their dogs’ aggressive shaking can be quite confusing.
However, if you are a dog owner, remember that your dog is just mimicking an act of their ancestors, the wolves.
Wolves grab and shake the prey to snap their prey. Your dog may be the cutest creature on earth but beware. Its killer instincts are well-embedded within its subconscious and can come out when needed.
Just like human beings, some dogs can be more aggressive than others, which is perfectly alright. When it comes to shaking their toys, some mongrels tend to do it out of playfulness and good mood, while some mimic the hunting action.
However, some dogs are aggressive by nature, and they express their emotions by clamping onto their toys and shaking it as if they have picked a fight they can’t afford to lose.
As a responsible dog person, you should tell whether your dog is shaking the toy out of aggression or playfulness. If the dog has a toy between its jaws and it continues to run around, it is a sign that your dog is having fun.
On the contrary, if the dog is holding the toy tight between its jaws and is jumping fast, it is a sign of aggression.
If your dog is aggressive by nature, there is a chance that they might harm smaller pets and even children. If you have an aggressive pet in the house, it is better to have them exchanged with a pet that isn’t aggressive.
Or, you can discourage their aggressive behavior by punishment or positive reinforcement.
Another possible answer to the question, “why do dogs shake their toys?” is that they are frustrated. Frustration is often seen in dogs that have been left alone for an extended period. They are also common among dogs that have been taken away from their pack and suffer from some sort of separation anxiety.
If your dog has been separated from its pack, you might be welcomed by a massive pile of toys scattered across the house whenever you return home.
If your dog is exceptionally frustrated, your dog might also destroy your pillows, blankets, and kitchen items to get your attention.
Your dog may destroy and shake its toys out of boredom as well. Dogs need a lot of attention and must be kept busy. They believe that destroying toys is worth it as long as they can get a reaction for you.
If your dog is bored, take them out regularly and engage them in physical activities that keep them busy.
Why Your Dog Chews Destructively and Shakes Its Toys?
Up until now, we have tried to find the answer to the question, “why do dogs shake their toys?” and unveiled specific scenarios that encourage your dog to behave in this manner. As mentioned above, one of the main reasons for this behavior was anger and destruction.
When your dog is angry or aggressive, besides shaking its toys, it can also engage in destructive chewing. If you have been a devout dog person for a long time, you’d probably be familiar with the concept of destructive chewing.
However, let’s expand our horizons and discuss the things that make a dog more aggressive and destructive. Here are some reasons why a dog chews destructively.
If you remember, while seeking the answer to the question, “why do dogs shake their toys?”, we spoke of separation anxiety.
Most dogs that shake their toys or chew them very aggressively are trying to break away from the stress caused by separation anxiety. This separation anxiety tends to intensify, especially when a dog has been left alone for extended periods, or its owners don’t spend much time with it.
But destructive chewing and aggressively shaking their toys aren’t the only things that dogs do when they suffer from separation anxiety. There are other symptoms, as well. Some of these signs include defecation, urination, excessive barking, and occasional whining.
Some dogs like sucking fabrics and derive pleasure from it. However, some dogs suck fabrics because they have been weaned too early.
If your dog continues to chew, shake, and bite its toys and other fabrics, the chances are that the habit has become compulsive. This means they will continue despite the preventive measures that you take.
Dogs might also shake their toys to indicate hunger. If you feed your dog a fairly low-calorie diet, your dog may lack a few nutrients that are necessary for its growth. Thus, your dog may engage in destructive chewing and other aggressive behaviors to get your attention.
Dogs shake their toys when they are teething. That’s right; just like human babies, puppies also shed their milk teeth and grow new ones. However, the teething process is just as uncomfortable for puppies as it is for human babies. So, to ease the discomfort, they engage in destructive chewing.
This habit of destructive chewing and over-experimentalism ends by the time your puppy is six months old. Some veterinarians recommend placing an ice cube in your puppy’s mouth when it suffers from teething.
It is like a dog or even a puppy to dip its teeth into whatever it can find. However, as a responsible dog owner, you can always teach them otherwise. The next time you ask yourself, “why do dogs shake their toys?”, remember that teething can be painful, and the puppy needs to let it out.
If you are still wondering, “why do dogs shake their toys?”, then you must know that dogs exhibit such behaviors when they lack exercise and mental stimulation. Just like any other being, a dog also requires physical and mental stimulation.
Furthermore, dogs are highly energetic creatures, and not allowing them sufficient physical activity can lead to abnormal behaviors like destructive chewing and shaking their toys.
When they need to entertain themselves, they might bite into everything they find. They may even destroy every object they find by violently chewing or shaking it.
The best thing you can do to avoid these behaviors is to take your dog for a walk now and then engage in a fetch game. You can even resort to some clicker training if that helps.
There are times when dogs indulge in destructive chewing or shake their toys when they are in stressful situations. Dogs can feel stress when they are left around small children or other dangerous animals. To minimize the chances of such behaviors, try your best not to expose your dog to stressful situations.
How to Keep Your Dog from Chewing Destructively and Shaking Its Toys?
Now that we have answered your question, “why do dogs shake their toys,” let’s discuss ways to get rid of or reduce this behavior.
- Seeing your dog shaking its toys may seem fun, but before you know it, your dog may adapt this behavior with all sorts of objects. If your dog has developed a habit of aggressive chewing or shaking its head back and forth with an object in its mouth, try dog-proofing your house. Now it doesn’t mean that you should get rid of the dog. It merely means that you should lock away all of the important household items. This includes, in particular, fabrics like towels, bed sheets, pillow covers, socks, and tea cozies.
- Provide your dogs with toys such as inedible bones. Meanwhile, monitor your dog’s habits and see what type of toys it chews on.
- You should rotate the chew toys and introduce something new; the dog will get bored and set out for new items to chew, which you won’t enjoy.
- If your dog is shaking its toys because it is hungry, add some variation to its diet. Go for things that are easy to chew on. Dogs like to gobble crunchy vegetables like cabbage, carrots, and broccoli. You can add some delicious zucchini and a few slices of juicy, sweet watermelon to its diet. Trust us; your dog will stop destroying its toys once it has a good, nutritious diet.
- Being a smart dog owner, you should be able to identify when your dog is being aggressive and shaking its toys out of anger. If it is angry, your job is to mellow it down. You can teach it commands like “No” or “drop it” to discourage the behavior. If it listens to your commands, you can reinforce it positively. This will help curb the behavior in the future as well.
Things You Shouldn’t Do to Prevent Destructive Behavior
Until now, we have tried to find the answer to the question, “why do dogs shake their toys?”. We have also discussed the causes and solutions to destructive chewing. Now, let’s shift gears and talk about what you shouldn’t do when you try to keep your dog from chewing destructively.
- Do not make your dog feel embarrassed for what it has done. Dogs are very sensitive creatures, and they get offended very quickly, which can have a direct impact on their personality. Furthermore, do not punish your dog or even scold them or yell at them. Doing so, you will ruin the bond you and your dog share.
- Some people tie their dog’s jaws with duct tape, hoping that it would help discourage the behavior. Don’t be one of these people. Don’t engage in such inhumane acts, as it would only hurt your dog, and their behavior may worsen with time. With time, your dog will develop a sense of resentment, which will be extremely problematic for you in the long run.
- Do not leave your dog in the crate or on a leash for a long time.
- You can muzzle your dog only when you take it for a walk; muzzling it to prevent destructive chewing patterns is not a good idea.
Final Thoughts on Why Do Dogs Shake Their Toys
We hope that by now you have gotten the answer to the question, “why do dogs shake their toys?”. If you find your dog shaking a toy between its jaws, it’s not a problem. However, if that behavior worsens with time, or the dog engages in destructive chewing, then you need to worry and figure out a solution.
Sometimes, dogs start playing with everything they can find, which can sometimes be harmful for them. To control such behaviors, start telling them “no” in a firm voice. Or, you can offer them their favorite treat to discourage the behavior.
Train your dog to obey simple commands like “leave it” or “drop.” Never underestimate the importance of commands, as they allow you to control your dog’s behavior from afar. Every time your dog follows the command, reward them with a treat or a little pat on the back. Never make the horrendous mistake of getting into a tug of war situation with your canine. This will only make them more aggressive.
No matter how your dog behaves, you should never lose your cool, and panicking would be the worst thing you can do. Instead, create a bond with your dog that is so strong that it helps you understand everything your dog does.
- “Destructive Chewing.” ASPCA, www.aspca.org/pet-care/dog-care/common-dog-behavior-issues/destructive-chewing.
- Douglas, Dr Tracy. “Why Do Dogs Shake Their Toys?” My Pet Needs That, 3 June 2020, www.mypetneedsthat.com/why-do-dogs-shake-toys/.
- Randall, Samantha. “7 Reasons Your Dog Has Destructive Behavior • PetChatz®.” PetChatz®, 14 Feb. 2020, petchatz.com/7-reasons-your-dog-has-destructive-behavior/.
- Schade, Victoria. “5 Reasons Your Dog Destroys His Toys.” Pet Central by Chewy, 25 July 2019, petcentral.chewy.com/behavior-pet-facts-5-reasons-your-dog-destroys-his-toys/.
- “Why Dogs Shake Their Toys – Woof Report.” Woof Report | The Best Email Newsletter for Dog Lovers, 22 Nov. 2019, www.woofreport.com/tips/discover/more-bones-to-chew-on/why-dogs-shake-their-toys.html.