Why Do Dogs Shake Their Toys? Play or Prey?

Have you ever wondered why do dogs shake their toys? This seemingly peculiar behavior is actually linked to dogs’ natural hunting instincts. In this article, we will delve into the various reasons behind this playful action and how it benefits your furry friend.

Stay tuned to unravel the mystery of dogs shaking their toys.

why do dogs shake their toys

Key Takeaways

  • Dogs shake their toys because of their natural hunting instincts, which they inherited from their wolf ancestors.
  • Shaking toys is a fun and playful activity for dogs, allowing them to release energy and engage in interactive play with their owners or other dogs.
  • Aggressive shaking behavior may occur in some dogs, but it’s important to monitor closely and seek guidance from a professional trainer if needed.
  • Addressing frustration during playtime can prevent excessive shaking; providing mental stimulation and interactive toys can help keep dogs happy and engaged.

Reasons Why Dogs Shake Their Toys

Dogs shake their toys for various reasons, including their hunting instinct, the fun and play they experience, aggression or frustration.

Hunting instinct

Dogs have a strong hunting instinct. This comes from their wild past as wolves. They shake toys because it feels like catching prey. When they catch a toy, it gives them joy and calmness.

This is because shaking a toy lets out happy brain chemicals called endorphins. All dog breeds share this fun play style, no matter how big or small they are.

Fun and play

Dogs love shaking their toys because it’s a fun and playful activity for them. When they shake their toys, it’s like they are having their own little adventure. They enjoy the thrill of chasing and retrieving the toy, just like how they would chase after prey in the wild.

It’s a way for dogs to release pent-up energy and engage in interactive play with their owners or other dogs. So, when you see your dog shaking its toy with excitement, it’s a sign that they are having a great time!


Dogs shaking their toys can sometimes be a display of aggression. This happens when they shake the toy vigorously, growl, or show other signs of dominance. It’s important to note that not all dogs exhibit this behavior, and it may be more common in certain breeds.

If you notice your dog becoming aggressive while shaking its toys, it’s important to monitor their behavior closely. Additionally, consider seeking guidance from a professional trainer who can help address any underlying issues causing the aggression.

Remember, it’s crucial to ensure the safety of both your dog and those around them.


Sometimes, dogs may shake their toys out of frustration. This can happen when they are unable to retrieve or catch their toy, or if the toy is not behaving the way they want it to.

Frustration can also arise if the dog feels like they are not getting enough playtime or attention from their owner. When dogs shake their toys out of frustration, it’s important to address the underlying cause and find ways to make playtime more satisfying for them.

Providing mental stimulation and interactive toys can help alleviate this frustration and keep your dog happy and engaged during playtime. It’s essential to understand that dogs use shaking as a way to express their emotions, so paying attention to what they might be trying to communicate through this behavior is crucial.

why do dogs shake their toys

Is It Normal Behavior?

Dogs shaking their toys is a normal behavior that stems from their natural instincts and can be seen across different breeds. Understanding why they do it can help dog owners better understand their furry friends.

So, let’s dive in to learn more about this fascinating behavior!

Explaining the behavior

Dogs shake their toys during play because it is a natural behavior rooted in their hunting instincts. When dogs shake their toys, it mimics the motion of capturing and killing prey.

This behavior goes back to when dogs were hunters in the wild, and shaking toys is a way for them to practice those skills. It’s like they’re playing a game of chase and retrieval with their “prey.” So, if you see your dog vigorously shaking their favorite toy, it’s just their way of having fun and expressing their natural canine instincts.

Different breeds and shaking behavior

  • Dogs of all breeds have the natural instinct to shake their toys.
  • Small breeds, such as Chihuahuas and Terriers, may shake their toys more vigorously due to their active nature.
  • Larger breeds, like Retrievers and Bulldogs, may have a gentler shaking behavior.
  • Some breeds with strong prey drives, like Border Collies and Huskies, may shake their toys more aggressively.
  • Breeds that were originally bred for hunting or retrieving, like Labradors and Spaniels, may have a stronger inclination to shake their toys during play.
  • However, it’s important to remember that individual personality and training can also influence a dog’s shaking behavior.
why do dogs shake their toys

When Should You Stop Your Dog from Shaking Its Toys?

Safety concerns and training techniques should be implemented when your dog’s toy shaking behavior becomes aggressive or destructive. Find out how to redirect their energy and ensure a safe playtime environment.

Safety concerns

It’s important to consider safety when it comes to your dog shaking their toys. While toy shaking is a normal behavior, there are a few things you should watch out for. First, make sure the toys your dog plays with are durable and safe for them to chew on.

Avoid small or easily breakable toys that could be swallowed or pose a choking hazard. Additionally, keep an eye out for any signs of aggression during playtime. If your dog becomes too rough or aggressive while shaking their toys, it may be necessary to redirect their attention or provide alternative ways for them to release their energy.

Remember, safety first when it comes to your furry friend’s playtime!

Training and redirection

To ensure your dog’s safety and promote positive behavior during playtime, consider the following training and redirection techniques:

  1. Introduce appropriate toys: Provide your dog with a variety of toys that are safe and suitable for their size and breed. Avoid toys that are easily torn apart or could pose a choking hazard.
  2. Teach “drop it” command: Train your dog to drop the toy on command by offering a high-value treat as a reward when they release the toy. This helps prevent possessive behavior and encourages them to let go of the toy without aggression.
  3. Redirect excessive shaking: If your dog becomes too focused on shaking their toy aggressively or compulsively, redirect their attention to an alternative activity or toy. Encourage them to engage in a different behavior like fetching or playing tug of war.
  4. Positive reinforcement: Reward your dog with praise, treats, or playtime when they exhibit calm and controlled behavior during play. This reinforces good manners and helps them understand appropriate ways to interact with toys.
  5. Seek professional help if needed: If you’re concerned about your dog’s shaking behavior or if it becomes excessive, consult with a professional dog trainer or animal behaviorist for guidance and advice specific to your pet’s needs.
why do dogs shake their toys


In conclusion, dogs love shaking their toys because it taps into their natural hunting instincts. It’s a way for them to have fun, release energy, and feel happier. While shaking toys is mostly harmless play behavior, it’s important to supervise and redirect the behavior if safety concerns arise.

So let your pup shake away and enjoy their playful antics!


1. Why do dogs love shaking their toys?

Dogs shake their toys because it mimics hunting instincts and prey behavior, providing mental stimulation and satisfying their natural predatory drive.

2. Is it normal for my dog to shake its toys aggressively?

Yes, it is normal for dogs to shake their toys aggressively as it simulates the motion of capturing and killing prey in the wild.

3. Should I be concerned if my dog shakes its toys too much?

If your dog is excessively shaking its toys to the point of aggression or damaging the toy, it may indicate excessive energy or frustration. Providing additional exercise and interactive playtime can help alleviate this behavior.

4. Can I train my dog not to shake its toys?

While you can redirect your dog’s behavior using positive reinforcement training techniques, completely eliminating a natural instinct like toy-shaking may be difficult. It’s best to provide appropriate outlets for this behavior rather than trying to suppress it entirely.

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