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Why Do Dogs Shake Their Toys?

Written by Viena
Viena is passionate about all sorts of domesticated pets. They have written dozens of articles across the web.
Published on
Thursday 29 October 2020
Last updated on
Tuesday 9 May 2023
why do dogs shake their toys
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Have you ever sat on the floor, watched your dog play, and wondered, why do dogs shake their toys? You may have seen your dog constantly pick up a specific toy you assume is their favorite. Therefore, they would run around the house with it and shake it from left to right. It seems weird and funny, but should that be a cause for concern?

Dogs shaking their toys can convey several different messages. Understanding the possible reasons behind this behavior can help both owners and pets communicate and deal with each other more effectively. Let’s dive into this some more, shall we?

Reasons Why Dogs Shake Their Toys

Dogs are intelligent and sensual beings that are a part of many people’s families and daily lives. They communicate with humans through body language. Dogs act things out to get all of their messages across – love, happiness, anger, sadness, hunger, and a million other emotions.

But a popular dog behavior that humans try to grasp is the shaking of toys. For a long time, many pet owners think that toy-shaking in dogs is just what dogs do without reason. Due to this assumption, dogs that need special attention and training get overlooked sometimes. Why do dogs keep doing this? What are the possible reasons behind their behavior and when should you be worried? Read below to find out!

Hunting Instinct

A long genetic line of wolves and wild canines are considered the predecessors of domesticated dogs. Your dog may exhibit a hunting instinct inherited from their ancestors by shaking their toys. This inherited behavior dates back to the time when wild dogs needed to search for food.

Wolves and dogs in the wild kill smaller creatures for food by repeatedly shaking to break the prey’s head and neck. The evolution of canines carried this behavior to the succeeding generations. But good news! What used to be a hunting and killing behavior can now be considered a playful act.

For Fun

Dogs do three things every single day – they eat, sleep, and play. But, a dog’s best-loved activity of all-time is probably playing. Often, your dog will shake their toys to ask you to play with them. Whenever your pet is playing fetch, they would shake the toy before bringing it back to you because they are enjoying the moment.

Your dog is shaking their toy to tell you that they are having fun, and you should keep going! Sometimes, when you abruptly stop playing, they will also shake their toy again to get you to spend some more time throwing their toys. This behavior, combined with tail wags, means that they are thrilled.


Dogs can sometimes imply an aggressive intent when they shake their toys at you or shorter animals. A dog that raises its head and jumps up slightly while doing so may be exhibiting signs of developing aggression. Shaking their toys in this manner can lead to acting it out on a person or another animal.

Nevertheless, you can help your dog control unwanted behavior by seeing your veterinarian and dog behaviorist. You can also spend some quality time teaching your dog new tricks. Your canine companion is reward-motivated, and you can use that to your advantage.


Dogs are highly energetic and sensitive animals that need regular exercise and attention. At times, a dog shaking its toy can signal frustration. Some dogs alleviate their boredom by shaking and nibbling their toys. Other dogs do this to get their owners to notice them.

Your dog may also shake their toy persistently when they have so much pent-up energy and wants to go outside. Dogs that feel dissatisfied can result in destroying things around the house. Giving them regular walks and playtimes will resolve just that.

Another issue related to this unbecoming behavior is anxiety. Some dogs do not feel secure when they are left at home alone, also known as separation anxiety. Anxiety causes frustration in dogs because they mostly do not understand why humans act a certain way. Humans leaving the house, in particular, is an example. Anxious dogs need more attention, care, and assurance. You may visit your trusted veterinarian to discuss the necessary steps to help an anxious dog. Professional or home training can help, as well.

why dogs shake their toys
Boredom can be one reason why your dog is shaking its toy.

When Should You Stop Your Dog From Shaking Its Toys?

Dogs are more commonly shaking their toys to show that they are having the time of their lives. However, some circumstances need additional supervision and precaution before leaving your dogs with their toys. Have a look at these reasons why you should stop your dog from shaking its toy:

  • There are specific cases that require more care. It is a must to prohibit dogs with head, neck, and spinal conditions from shaking their head and toys. Unsupervised dogs with special needs, as such, may end up hurting themselves and getting more severe health problems
  • Some toys have safety and choking hazards stuffed inside. Dogs should not play with disfigured toys. If your pet continuously shakes and swallows toy stuffing accidentally, there will be a high risk for choking and intestinal obstruction
  • If your dog is showing signs of hostility, keep them from shaking their toys. You can avoid further behavioral concerns if you acknowledge aggression early on
  • A dog can feel uncomfortable and guarded around an unfamiliar being. Your dog should not have access to its toys if an infant or a new pet joins the family. A new addition to the home can trigger an already anxious pet, and a toy will affirm that trigger

Toy-Shaking In Dogs – FAQs

By now, you are already a more knowledgeable dog parent. But we are not done just yet. Read through these FAQs to see more helpful information we have in store for you!

Why does my dog like to destroy their toys?

There are several reasons why your dog likes to destroy their toys. It can be caused by their instincts to hunt, the desire to play, developing aggression, or repressed frustration.

One effective way to know why your dog acts this way is to monitor and observe their usual reactions and body language while destroying their toys. Your dog’s response to their surroundings will tell you a lot about what your pet needs and does not need.

Do dogs always shake their heads when they play?

Dogs don’t always shake their heads when they play. Your beloved pet may shake its head when they are full of energy and excitement during playtime. Dogs shake their heads back and forth, particularly when they are playing with their favorite toys. They act this way to show that they are happy.

When dogs shake their heads while playing, it can also mean that they want to get their human’s attention. They want you to notice their silliness or mostly to play fetch or tug-o-war. You may also want to look out for tail wags. Toy-shaking with a wagging tail is 100% a dog enjoying their time.

How do you train a dog not to destroy?

You can train your dog not to destroy things inside the house. Before anything else, you have to figure out what exactly is causing your pet’s destructive behavior. Find out the similarities in every damaging situation you encounter. Then, work on it from there.

There’s a lot that you can do with your pet. You can lessen and prevent your dog’s need to destroy stuff around the house by burning their excess energy and giving them enough attention every day. Your pet will also thrive from obedience lessons and reward-system home discipline.

Should you let your dog destroy their toys?

A dog tearing up their toys over time is pretty standard. But, you always have to be mindful of the toys’ condition before allowing your fur baby to use it. There are certain materials inside pet toys that are hazardous to your dog. These may cause choking and intoxication.

You can let your dog play with their toys so long as it is still intact and safe for playing. You can also allow your dog to play with its toys until they’re completely torn apart, provided that they do not indicate signs of developing aggression, intoxication, and choking.

Dogs will always be dogs. They may not be able to talk, but their actions speak to us in volumes! Your dog shaking its toys can mean a lot of things. But with an owner’s love like yours, and our short guide to understanding your dog’s behavior, we hope that you and your best furry friend live a long and happy life!

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