Oh Snap, There Are No Plastic-Free Squeakers
As we began to research materials for dog toys, we always dreaded “the squeaker problem”. We are a plastic free company, how are we going to make a squeaker without plastic? We spent some time in the early days attempting to engineer a solution. As we talked to people about ideas, all dog owners were telling us the same story. “My doggo loves squeakers, but she destroys the toy within an hour until she gets the squeaker out.” Recognizing that we have had the same experience, we began to question the purpose of squeakers to begin with. Why do dogs go crazy for squeakers and is it a good thing? What is the point of buying a toy that your dog will destroy as soon as you give it to them? We stopped engineering and started researching.
They Can’t Help It, Like For Real, They Can’t
It turns out that dogs can’t control their love affair with squeakers, literally. Dogs are hardwired from their days as wolves to attack prey. The squeaking noise triggers instincts in your pup that results in them identifying the squeaker toy as prey that they need to kill (think rabbit, mouse, bird, etc.). So, kill is exactly what they do. They attack the squeaker until it either stops squeaking or worse they extract it from the toy and eat it. In an Antigravity article, Arvella Lesnack (VP at Pet Adoption Services) discusses how squeaking toys trigger hyperactivity in dogs. Lesnack goes on to say that squeaking toys should only be used for specific training or attention-getting situations with dogs. Rewarding this killer instinct reinforces hyperactive destructive behavior that can then be triggered by a small child or another animal making a similar type of noise.
It's All Fun and Games Until You Have to Poop Out A Squeaker
A quick read about Harley (an adorable squeaker eater) is enough to give pause to anyone succumbing to their dog’s desire for instant squeaking gratification. In her post, Laura Yurchak tells the story of how she gave in to her dog Harley’s love of squeakers one weekend and it nearly cost Harley her life. Laura understood that Harley could tear things up but didn’t realize that she would actually ingest a whole squeaker. This mistake led to sleepless nights for Laura, who worryingly stayed up with Harley administering pain medication until she was able to vomit up one squeaker and then poo out another. In another close call, Kristen tells a story of how her puppy Maverick had to spend four nights in the hospital to recover from an operation to remove a squeaker from his belly. An adventure that nearly cost Maverick his life and left Kristen with a $6220 bill for the procedure.
But What Will They Do Without A Squeaker?
As it turns out, dogs like to play with things even when these things don’t remind them of something they need to immediately kill. Think of all the fun your pup has daily that doesn’t involve squeakers. As we continued to test our natural, squeaker-free dog toys, we found that nearly every dog instantly fell in love with them. They chewed on them, snuggled with them, fetched them, and so on. Very rarely did they just tear into and destroy them. Since then, we have stopped the quest to engineer the plastic free squeaker and focused our attention on ensuring that our toys have features that our pets not only want but that are actually healthy for them. Luckily for all of us, that rules out planet and pet harming plastic squeakers.
I’ve come to think of squeakers and dogs like chocolate chip cookies and myself. If given an unlimited supply of chocolate chip cookies and no supervision, it would be difficult for me to resist the urge to eat all of them to the point of making myself sick. It wouldn’t necessarily cause me to become aggressive towards a small child, (I mean who knows, if I ran out of cookies and little Johnny had one, I’m not sure what would happen), but it would likely make me more irritable. If given the choice between a bowl of fruit and a bowl of chocolate chip cookies, there is only one logical choice in my mind (and its not the fruit). I’m just saying, I like chocolate chip cookies, like a lot. However, if there are no chocolate chip cookies around and I’m craving something sweet, peaches taste pretty darn good. It’s not to say that occasionally my brain doesn’t secretly wish that my peach had chocolate chips in it, it's just to say that we are all better off that it doesn’t.