Why Do Dogs Shake Their Toys? 4 Reasons Explained

Do you ever wonder why dogs shake their toys? Of course, you do, well, my dogs do it all the time and for some time, I thought it was aggressive behavior and got worried so I finally decided to find out what is the real reason behind that behavior? Well, here is everything that you need to know.

So, why do dogs shake their toys? Dogs shake their toys due to their instincts, they inherited that behavior from their ancestors who used to capture and kill prey by putting the prey and their mouth and shaking really hard from one side to the other but that doesn’t mean that they still have the instinct to kill.

Keep reading to learn more about why dogs shake their toys and if it is ok for them to do it?

Why do dogs shake their toys? 

german shepherd with toy to show why do dogs shake their toys

The way a dog plays with their toys can say a lot about their personality, and one of the things that I noticed that almost every dog does, including my dogs, is shaking their toy.

Dogs can shake their toys for multiple reasons, so here are the most common ones.

  1. Natural instinct 
  2. Aggression 
  3. Frustration 
  4. Playing 

Natural instinct 

When dogs shake their toys, it’s usually because of their natural instinct, it was left over from their ancestors, the wolves.

A long time ago, in the wild, the dog’s ancestors used to capture their prey by their mouth and they would shake it aggressively till the prey dies in their mouth.

This instinct may kick in every once in a while, no matter how cute or sweet your pup is and they need to attack their toys occasionally just to be in touch with their nature, however, it’s harmless and kinda healthy for them to do it.


Even though it’s not that common, some dogs do it out of aggression and it’s more likely if your dog is suffering from separation anxiety and you left them alone for a long period then they can destroy much more than their toys.

If they do it quite a lot in front of you then maybe you should watch for their body posture while they are shaking the toy.

Here are the signs of aggression in dogs:

  • Growling 
  • Showing the white of their eyes 
  • Showing their teeth 
  • Snarling 
  • Guttural bark 
  • Excessive low range barking 
  • Holding ears erect 
  • Carrying their tail high 
  • Moving their tail stiffly from side to side
  • Slightly jumping up 

If you noticed one or a few of these signs in your dog in general and not just while shaking the toy then your dog is probably aggressive and it can lead to your pup hurting small animals, children, or even their owners, and you need to take them to animals behaviorist or their vet to work through their behavior.

It’s important to note here that any dog, no matter the breed, can be aggressive. You can learn about golden retriever aggression here and about labrador aggression here.


Your dog can also shake toys out of frustration and it’s more likely if they didn’t have enough exercise that day or didn’t exercise at all.

It also can be caused by separation anxiety if you left them alone or they can do it if you didn’t give them enough attention that day and that’s how they are trying to make you notice them. 

Whatever the reason is, make sure to give your pup plenty of attention throughout the day and don’t give it to them when they behave that way because it will become a habit whenever they need something.


I mean it’s a toy so they can be just playing with it and the shaking is just for fun.

They also can be shaking the toy to get your attention to play with them or they are shaking the toy so the toy can eventually slip from their mouth so they can go and get it, it’s kinda like playing fetch but with themselves.

If you are still worried about your dog and think that shaking their toy is not normal then it’s better to consult their vet just to make sure that your pup is fine.

Is it ok for dogs to shake toys?

Yes, it’s totally ok for dogs to shake toys, when dogs shake their toys then they are just being themselves, toys usually bring the hunting instincts in dogs especially the squeaking toys. 

The shaking is the method they used to kill their prey and shaking the toys fulfills their hunting instincts so it’s a healthy way to get it out of their system. 

Shaking the toys is just one of the many ways dogs like to play with their toys. Another common way is to parade them. You can learn why dogs parade their toys here.

Do dogs think they are killing their toys?

Yes, dogs think they are killing their toys, they think of their toys as their prey, and sometimes natural instincts kick in and they feel the urge to attack and kill toys and if the toy is squeaky then this toy is doomed.

However, this is not an aggressive behavior, dogs like to keep themselves busy, and imagining that toys are prey, helps them feel like hunting and actually doing something.

Why do dogs sleep with toys in their mouth?

Dogs can sleep with a certain toy in their mouth because they are attached to it and keeping it in their mouth while they are asleep makes them feel safe and they don’t need to worry about someone taking their favorite toy because they are keeping it in the safest place.

Why do dogs grab a toy when excited?

Dogs like to grab their favorite toy when they are excited so they can share their joy with you and their favorite toy or they may need their favorite toy with them to calm the excitement a little bit.

Is it ok to let dogs play tug of war with other dogs?

Yes, it’s ok to let dogs play tug of war with other dogs, however, you should always keep an eye on them when they are playing and as soon as you notice any sign of aggression or if any one of them started to show some dominant behavior then stop the game, and never allow them to play it together.

If you liked this article and found it a helpful resource, you can share it with your friends and family if they went through the same thing with their dogs.

Hope you liked it and please, do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions.

Related Questions 

Why do dogs attack stuffed animals?

Dogs attack stuffed animals because they see these stuffed toys like the animals in the wild so they attack them due to their natural instincts, they are similar to kids when they are playing, they use their imagination and pretend to be killing their stuffed animals (preys) and this is normal.

Do dogs like tug of war?

Yes, dogs like to play tug of war because they can display their predatory nature in the healthiest way possible, it’s a physical exercise, and it’s a great way to bond with their owner, however, dogs can get too excited while playing and can lead to someone being injured so keep it under control.

Why does my dog carry his toys everywhere?

Dogs usually carry their toys everywhere with them because it’s reassuring, just like kids who can’t sleep without their favorite toy, it makes them feel safe and it’s the same thing with dogs, carrying their toys everywhere, comforts and makes them more confident.

Helpful Resources 

How to Play Tug of War With Your Dog


Living with a Retriever: Recommendations and Sources

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Hey there, I'm Matt, the author behind Retrievershub.com. With a deep love for dogs and a dedication to strengthening the bond between owners and their retrievers, I've created a hub of resources for enthusiasts like you. Through engaging articles, training guides, and product reviews, I aim to provide practical advice that makes a real difference in your life as a dog owner. Whether you're a seasoned pro or new to the world of retrievers, my approachable and informative writing style ensures that you'll find valuable insights. Join me on this incredible journey of discovering what makes retrievers tick, unlocking their potential, and creating an unbreakable bond with your furry companion. Let's embark on an adventure of dog ownership together. Thank you for visiting Retrievershub.com and being part of our vibrant community.

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