So we had a client with the cutest puppy ever who had been told by their dog “trainer” to remove all squeaky toys as they encourage biting.
Let’s do a little myth busting here. Thank you internet.
I have read online that squeaky toys can cause anything from aggression, to resource guarding and predatory instincts in dogs (hell, I am sure someone somewhere has blamed squeaky toys for rising oil prices!!).
I’ve yet to see any of those behaviors with my dogs, but squeaky toys certainly create extremely high levels of excitement(after all, that is what they are designed to do). Is it just innocent fun or can a simple squeak cause a dog to bite?
The myth when puppy training is that the squeaky toy sounds like a person screaming “ow” (a sound sometimes used to prevent biting) which encourages a dog to bite more.
I have so many issues with this theory. Firstly nowhere is clear as to it if the puppy is encouraged to bite more because it is becoming desensitized to the squeak sound (therefore bites people more when they make an “ow” sound). Or, if the puppy now thinks the human sounds like a squeaky toy and is encouraged to bite it harder. Or both? or other?
Anyway, neither theory is correct,
Firstly, you are assuming that screaming “ow” works as a means of preventing a dog from biting. This rather outdated theory was developed when a few believed that by making an “ow” sound, it mimicked the yelp a puppy would make when play fighting with its siblings. Resulting in the biting dog backing away and stopping the behavior.
Most of the time this technique doesn’t work. Mostly because your puppy knows the difference between you and another puppy, and also the difference between a yelp and a squeaky toy. Rather surprisingly (or not surprisingly in your case smart reader), your puppy is smart enough to know the difference between another puppy, a squeaky toy and your flesh!!
Even the stupidest dog in the world would not confuse a human with another puppy, or a yelp with a squeaky toy. A dog’s hearing is much more acute than human’s (they can hear ranges that are not even audible to humans). They can also “outhear” humans in terms of frequencies of sound. Squeaky toys work on that high frequency range which is what makes them so enticing. So no, a squeaky toy does not sound like a human or a dog….not even a puppy!!! (and if you and your puppy can’t tell the difference in the sounds, this blog can’t help you)
Even if this theory was correct, these “trainers” also forget the cardinal rule of dog training. Dogs do no generalize well. So a squeak from a dog toy does not mean your dog will think he is allowed to make you “squeak”!!
By all means, don’t use squeaky toys because they are as annoying as hell and can increase stimulation levels, but don’t stop using them because your “trainer” is misinformed. Time to start asking questions if things don’t make sense