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Why Do Dogs Shake Their Toys?

Why Do Dogs Shake Their Toys?

Wow! Dogs have unusual habits, and some can leave you wondering what’s going on. For example, you are relaxing watching a movie, besides is your dog playing with his toys. Then, pap! He grabs one of the toys and starts shaking it very hard. And you are like what! Stop it; you are going to hurt yourself. Surprisingly, the dog can’t even hear you since he is so lost into the act. You are left wondering once done with his “game” if he can manage standing upright. When he gets satisfied with the shaking, to your shock, he stands and gives you a stare, looking so happy and satisfied. Wondering, did you see that awesome game of mine? You need to provide a treat for the beautiful piece of work I have performed. 

According to Dr. Margret Gruen, Clinician at NC State University Animal Behavior Service, “An evolutionary fact, by attacking and shaking vigorously, shows the exact technique how dogs handled prey once caught. They used the method to kill prey before starting to feast on it”.

Importance of Toy Shaking On Your Dog’s Health

  • It helps your dog to get out the extra energy, which can easily lead to dog obesity.
  • Breaks down boredom.
  • Strengthens your dog’s jaws and teeth.
  • Defines your dog’s creativity level. 
  • Boosts your dog’s self-esteem level.
  • It helps keep the dog away when you need some time alone.

Top 9 Possible Reasons Why Your Dog Shakes His Toys

1. Prey Behavior

From the ancestral origin of dogs, they used to survive from their aggressive ways. They used to hunt for prey. The grabbing and shaking behavior is in their DNA. If you happen to see your dog doing the same, don’t mind it, since it’s very normal. Plus, it helps the dog to calm down, by releasing the extra energy.

It could be helpful if you find your dog toys that resemble rodents. Example: rats, squirrels, mice, and rabbits. Plus, they need to be in small manageable sizes, which the dog can comfortably hold and enjoy the shaking experience when the instincts click in.

Have you ever been keen to look at the exact point where the dog holds the “prey” when shaking? It’s always at the back of the neck. Showing basic genetic instincts are entirely in control. The intention of targeting the neck is to break the spine, which renders the prey weak, making it unable to fight back, thus causing faster death.  

2. Frustration

Did you know that dogs do get frustrated? Well, now, you are updated. It comes to a point when the dog feels like destroying everything around him. Do you know what he is prone to doing at that particular moment? Grab one of his toys, shake it with all his hunger. To destroy and never see it again. You will be surprised by the results when he is done. If it was a cute teddy bear, all you could see were pieces of cotton all over the place, not a single sign of a teddy bear.

You can’t imagine a situation where you are opening the door. And what! To your shock, what welcomes you to the house, is a messy room, spoiled toys scattered everywhere! 

In most cases, frustration sets in when your dog feels neglected with someone he loves. Or when one of his family (fellow dog) is taken away from him. If you find the shaking behavior becoming so often, try checking on the two reasons.

Remedy of the situation; you can try spending a little more time with your dog. 

Play a fun game together, offer him a massage while talking to him or schedule short walk sessions. That way, your dog will feel closer to you, offering him a chance to express his feelings. It’s likely to help in reducing the toy shaking incidents. If you happen to have practiced all the above tips to reduce your dog’s frustration incidents, and it doesn’t seem to be working, it’s high time to visit a vet to offer a professional way forward.

3. Playing

Even though dogs are hunters genetically and historically, it does mean everything they do is tied to their origin. When your dog is shaking his toy, it’s possible; he is doing it because it makes a fun game. Dogs are smart animals; they can get more creative than you think. If your dog feels like playing with you, and you seem not interested, he will make an effort to ensure that you join in. For example, you are seated at the backyard busking, the dog goes and picks the ball, comes in front of you, and starts shaking it. I guess you understand what that means. He needs you to enjoy the moment together. And, that’s his way of saying, let’s play the ball game. 

4. Aggression       

Does it mean that when the dog is shaking a toy, it’s a sign of aggressiveness? I can say that it’s 50% not and visa-versa.

It is possible to identify when the dog is shaking a toy for fun, and when the act shifts from just fun to aggressiveness.

Here go the simple tips: 

It’s normal for the dog to jump, grab a toy, and then go ahead to shaking it. The game can go on for a couple of minutes before the dog tires with the game. But, don’t go try to snatch the toy. You are spoiling the moment, and things might go wrong on your side, when the dog lands on you, trying to take the toy back. 

It would be best if you took action: when the dog lets the toy to the ground, lays ears back against the head, ankles hair raised, then goes ahead, grabbing kids or other pets like the cat (a sign of aggressiveness). The behavior can easily lead to an accident. It is giving you every reason to ensure the dog undergoes training over the habit.

5. Hunting

Early days, dogs and wolves were family. Dogs used to survive aggressively. They used to hunt the prey for a living. Nowadays, given dogs are domesticated, they don’t have to hunt anymore. They get pampered with all the basic needs, including luxuries. But, that doesn’t take away the hunting instincts. It’s very common to find a dog working on his toy by vigorously shaking it like he struggles to kill prey. You don’t need to get worried unless he gives you an extra reason to get bothered by the habit.

6. Problematic

I don’t know if I need to call this funny or dangerous! For example, you, the dog, and your kid let’s say 3years old and below are having a little fun in the backyard. The dog is busy playing with his toys, so thus the baby. And you know everything is under control, and you are so lost in social media. Then pap! You hear the baby crying or laughing so hard. Turning to see what’s happening, wow! The dog is shaking the kid. When the dog gets to the point of shaking anything else apart from his toys. It’s a sign that the shaking behavior is becoming problematic. And, it needs to be taken care of. By letting the dog under-go training on what’s appropriate to shake and what to let be.

7. Teething

Just like humans, dogs do shade their milk teeth. This happens between 15-30 weeks of age. At this period, the puppy tends to shake and bite his toys. The reason being, to soothe the discomfort being caused by the teething process.

The habit can be overwhelming since the puppy is likely to go to the extent of chewing anything coming his way when the irritating feeling sets in. 

Can you imagine arriving at your living room to find one of your favorite throw-pillows destroyed by a puppy! At this stage, you can be pushed right to the edge at the extent of feeling to let go of the puppy. The teething stage requires some patience and a lot of understanding for the puppy. It’s advisable to place an ice cube in the puppy’s mouth when under-going the teething period. It helps reduce the irritating feeling. Humans do use a chilled (not frozen) teething ring. 

8. Hunger

Do you miss feeding your dog on time? If yes, it might be why he is shaking, biting, and destroying items around the house. He is trying to communicate to you that something is not going well with him. It’s either you fix the problem, or you are going to suffer too! As we talked earlier, dogs are brilliant animals. Try sticking to the feeding schedule. And, if the behavior doesn’t slow down. Maybe the dog is not getting some nutrients, making him crave biting items. You need to consult a vet to provide an accurate diagnosis.

9. Mental Stimulation

Do you allow your dog to experience enough physical activity? It is essential for mental stimulation since dogs are known to be energetic animals. 

If he is not engaged in enough exercise to release the excess energy, he is likely to engage in destructive activities like shaking his toys plus biting and destroying various items in your house. 

Remedy: It’s best to ensure your dog engages in lots of outdoor activities. 

For example, playing a ball game like fetch, hide and seek game, even taking a walk. Allowing your dog to entertain himself for long is not healthy. He is likely to get bored and, in most cases, end-up doing something stupid. It’s best, if you can, keep checking on the dog each given time. To ensure things are running in the right direction. If the stimulation tactic doesn’t work for your dog, try other tips in the article, and if they all go in vain. It could be best for you to consult a vet about your dog’s issue.     

Disadvantages of toy shaking

It’s important to note that there are no specific laid down cons of toy shaking, which applies to all dog breeds. The demerits do vary according to an individual dog. The common ones include;

  • If your dog is prone to eating anything, you shouldn’t allow them to play with fabric toys. Since they tear-up the toy. Eating fabric can lead to a severe Intestinal obstruction. 
  • A dog with a history of neck complications, each time they start shaking toys; they need to get distracted. The game is not so gentle for the neck, given they shake the toy vigorously. Your dog is likely to come out of the game, hurting.
  • Puppies should not be allowed to play with fabric. They are in the process of experiencing the world. If they start playing the shaking toys, and they find material coming out, they are likely to give a taste to the stuff coming out. Guess what is going to happen? As we discussed earlier, Intestinal obstruction loading, and the dog’s life is at stake.

Tips On How To Reduce The Shaking Toys Behavior 

Given now, you understand why your dog does shake his toys. It’s time to help you with the perfect simple tips on how to work on this habit.

  • When you are winning the puppy, if you have introduced the chew toys, it’s best to provide a variety of toys. It gives you freedom to rotate them. Breaking the monotony of chewing the same toy every time, which can result in shaking and chewing items like pillows. 
  • It’s best to avail inedible bones for your dog; it helps keep him busy, reducing the chances of shaking and biting toys.
  • Also, you can keep fabric items out of reach for the dog if you can. Because in most cases, dogs do shake fabric made stuff. 
  • Another thing, if your dog is shaking toys and household items out of hunger, provide enough and balanced diet, then monitor the progress.

Do you have experience in handling dogs? If yes, you can easily guess what the issue could be with your dog’s changing behavior. 

If he shakes the toys showing aggressive behavior, let him undergo training. And, if it does work, it’s high time to get rid of him. That marks the last stage of him being a home pet.

NOTE: What To Avoid When Home Training Your Dog On Toy Shaking Behavior 

  • Please don’t embarrass, scold, or yell at your dog. Dogs are intelligent and emotional animals. They quickly get irritated, feel unwanted, and their self-esteem easily affected. The best thing to do is, talk to him. If he doesn’t obey, deny privileges while reminding him what he did wrong.  

Final Note

Now that you are better equipped with the reasons why dogs shake their toys. First, you need to build a strong bond between you and your dog, to enable you understand your dog’s behavior better. Additionally, after going through the importance of toy shaking to the dog’s health, you shouldn’t be so hard on your dog trying to break the habit.

We wish you fun moments, full of love with your adorable pooch.