Why do dogs like sticks? We buy our furry friends the best quality chew toys, that are clean, hard-wearing, and suitably squeaky enough to drive us mad when chewed on for a ridiculously long time.
So why do our dogs happily abandon their favorite squeaky toys for a big muddy, half-chewed stick?
Fortunately, in this article, we tackle that very issue, as we answer the question “Why do dogs like sticks?”
Dogs love to carry stuff, and sticks are often one of their most favorite things to carry when out for a walk. Often the bigger and more unwieldy the stick, the more valuable it is to your dog. In a dog’s eyes, the humble stick is a treasured item, a special plaything to take home and protect.
Why do dogs like sticks so much?
Take a look at our list of reasons why our furry friends can’t get enough of them.
Why do dogs like sticks? – Natural Instinct
Even in domestic dogs, the hunting instincts are still strong.
The stick they pick up in the park triggers their inner hunter or forager instinct.
It’s a way for your dog to show off to you, their pack leader. Your furry friend is attempting to impress you with their amazing hunter/gatherer skills.
Instinctively, they’re mimicking what they would do in the wild. The stick represents prey. They chase the stick down and then kill the stick. It’s the reason why dogs sometimes like to tear their sticks apart.
Tearing a stick apart can have very serious consequences for your dog, we’ll talk about this in more detail later in the article.
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Why Do Dogs Like Sticks? – It Looks Like a Bone
It’s not hard to imagine that sticks can appear like long bones to our slobbery best friends.
Dogs love bones because of their texture but they also love the taste and nutrition found in the bone marrow.
When chewing or gnawing on a delicious bone is not possible, a wooden stick is a great alternative to a dog.
Why Do Dogs Like to Carry Sticks? – Mouth Play
In the same way that we explore new objects with our hands to hold, touch, and learn about them, dogs do this with their mouths.
Some dogs just like holding objects such as sticks, they like the feel of it in their mouth. It can also be reassuring for some dogs to know that they’ve always got something to play with while they’re on their travels.
Why do dogs Eat sticks? – Essential nutrients missing in your dog’s diet
Some dogs will eat things that aren’t regarded as food such as, dirt, plants, feces, and sticks. This could be a sign that key essential vitamins or minerals are missing from their diet.
This could also be a sign of a potentially dangerous condition called pica.
Why do dogs like sticks? – Pica Disorder
Pica disorder is a condition in which a dog feels the need to eat non-food items. These objects can include:
- Rocks and Stones
Pica is a compulsive or psychological disorder in dogs. However, it could also be caused by poor nutrition or medical problems. We have written a highly detailed article about Pica in dogs that you can find here.
Why do dogs like to Chew sticks? – Soothing Sore Gums from Teething
Sticks are a natural attraction that begins at an early age. For a puppy who is teething, wooden sticks are a great choice.
Dogs love to be able to play and chew on something while also being able to destroy it. Dogs love to chew, which is a natural stress relief.
While there are some things you need to be aware of when letting your dog chews sticks, overall it should not be considered a problem.
However, If your dog gets possessive of the stick and begins to disobey you, chewing and carrying sticks may become a problem, and the activity should be discouraged.
Why do dogs like sticks? – Sticks Smell Amazing
Dogs have an astonishing sense of smell, as most people are probably aware. Your dog’s super-sensitive nose can pick up the scent of things we can’t begin to perceive.
While dogs love the smell of food, it doesn’t stop there, dogs can learn all sorts of things from the scent, especially the scent of other dogs.
Scent can transfer onto objects such as sticks, making that stick a highly prized item for your furry friend. Not only have they discovered a brilliant new plaything, but they can find out about any previous doggie owners of the stick.
Why do dogs like sticks? – Dogs See Sticks As Toys
Toys are great fun for dogs, they love nothing better than playing catch, chasing, shaking, or chewing on their favorite toy for hours.
Toys can be a fun way for your dog to release excess energy, making them feel happy and content.
Sticks: The Hidden Dangers
The common belief regarding sticks is as long as your dog isn’t getting beaten with one, they’re fairly harmless, right? I mean, they’re not going to explode, or spontaneously leap up off the floor and assault your furry friend.
No, they won’t, but…
Believe it or not, sticks can actually be dangerous. An article about dogs with sticks would be remiss not to mention the real danger that sticks pose for our unsuspecting dogs. Take a look at these two instances where sticks can literally attack:
Sticks from fruit trees like apples, pear, and other fruit trees can cause various problems for dogs.
The problem starts with the wood from these trees being quite tasty. This can be deceiving for dogs as these trees can also be very toxic and cause severe stomach upsets.
Other trees to avoid include:
- Red Oak
- Red Locust
- Black Walnut
- Red Maple
Sticks come in different shapes, weights and sizes. This means that they can travel unpredictably and bounce off the ground in multiple directions when thrown.
This combined with the risk of the stick containing thorns or branches makes it potentially hazardous.
Sticks can inflict a range of minor to deadly injuries on your unsuspecting dog, here’s a list of possible problems you could encounter from playing or letting your dog chew their stick.
- Splinters in the gums
- Choking on pieces of the stick
- Eye injuries
- Cuts to the dog’s body
- Bacterial infections
- The stick could impale your dog
There are incidents of dogs catching sticks on the end before accidentally impaling themselves in the throat. This can cause pain and permanent damage to their soft tissue, leaving splinters embedded deep in the throat.
Sticks: Safer alternatives
There are many other ways that you can initiate play with your dog, not to mention other options to chewing sticks.
Safer ways to play chase:
- A ball is important. Make sure the ball is big enough to be comfortable for your dog. A ball toy that has two balls and a rope attached is ideal.
- Rope toys
- Fake stick toys – These are made of rubber and plastic, so they are safe and soft to play with.
So to answer our initial question, Why do dogs like sticks?
Dogs like sticks for many reasons, but the number one reason they love sticks has to be because they’re so much fun to run after.
Just be vigilant in the unlikely event that a stick-related accident occurs, or your dog suddenly chokes on some wood splinters. Remember, these risks aren’t typical, and if you are worried about it, you can seek out some great alternatives to sticks.
On the whole, sticks are safe.
Dogs enjoy nothing more than playing with a well-chewed stick, and as long as you keep a close eye on your furry friend, both of you will have many happy hours of fun playing together.
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All information in the article is for educational purposes only and is not meant to replace your veterinarian’s advice.