Does your dog have a favorite toy? And no matter how many new toys you tempt her with, all she wants is that chewed up, raggedy old one? There’s a reason…

Researchers from the University of Bristol looked into the types of toys dogs like best and which ones they get tired of quickly.

What the researchers found was that dogs like toys with the shortest lifespan. Meaning, toys that they can tear apart a few hours, or even minutes. That’s because dogs think of their toys in the same way that a wolf thinks of its prey; they want it to react when they engage with it. So if a wolf caught a squirrel, the squirrel would squeal when it was bitten – and the wolf would tear it apart with its teeth. That’s why our dogs like toys that squeak – because they mimic how prey reacts. And squeaky toys that are soft and pliable – like an animal’s body – trigger a hunter instinct in dogs, which is why dogs become so fixated on them.

Now, that doesn’t mean your dog won’t enjoy a more durable toy – or one that doesn’t squeak – but you may have to help them enjoy it. Play fetch with it – or tug-of-war – to help engage your dog and make them feel like they’re interacting with it more.

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