Why Does Your Dog Love Actual Trash Over a Real Toy?


Ever wonder why your pet can have a full bin of balls, bones, and plush animals to play with, but they insist on pulling out that same tattered, torn, should-be-in-the-trash remnant of a toy over and over again? Or maybe they tear apart every plush toy you’ve ever given them, but for some reason, they worship the stuffed jack-o-lantern you got them three Octobers ago?

My corgi, Charlotte, is like that with a $4 blue latex squeaky dog that my fiance and I call Tom. Forget the antlers, the interactive puzzles, and the treat dispensing toys we’ve spent a fortune on—Charlotte has eyes for only Tom. She interacts with Tom almost conversationally; she squeaks him a few times, then makes these pining moans and whines in response. It’s…intimate. She also likes to parade Tom around the room and show him to whomever will look. It’s a joy to witness.

For whatever reason, our pets become fixated with certain toys. Like our favorite childhood blankets, some toys or objects are just special in our pets’ eyes, and us owners get the pleasure of watching their giddy, whimsical, and protective reactions.

Here are some of our favorite stories of pets and their special friends.

The Blanket Buddy

Baxter the pitbull loves snuggling with any blanket.Ayanna Allyne

“My two crazy pups Baxter, a 5-year-old brindle pitbull, and Ollie, a 1-year-old pitbull mix, have some unusual but adorable obsessions. For Baxter, it’s soft blankies. Literally any blanket he can get his mouth and paws on, he will start kneading away like he’s some kind of cat making biscuits. It’s the sweetest, most precious thing to watch. 15/10 precious doggo. And Ollie is obsessed with anything that Baxter is obsessed with.” —Ayanna Allyne

The Special Hedgehog Friend

Copper with his favorite toy, Hedge, with whom he spends…special time every night at 9 p.m.Mary Schrott

“There is only one fluff-filled toy that Copper, my 2-year-old Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, has left fully stuffed and respected—Hedge. Hedge is a stuffed hedgehog toy the size of a basketball that Copper rendezvous with every night at 9 p.m., when he levitates onto my bed for an intense 10-minute hump-fest. Like clockwork, Hedge and Copper have their special 9 p.m. moment every night where they unwind together after a long, hard day of napping.” —Mary Schrott

A Squirrel-Friend for Life

Manny with his Manny with his favorite squeaky toy, Mr. Squirrel.Jillian Ertel

“My 8-year-old mutt, Manny, might not be able to catch neighborhood squirrels on his walks, but he sure loves to catch his favorite toy, Mr. Squirrel. We like to hide Mr. Squirrel under blankets to give Manny a challenge, and once he finds him, he makes sure we know by squeaking him over and over.” —Jillian Ertel

A Friend as Old as Time

Feta still loves his green dino toy, even after chewing off his face.Cody Mello-Klein

“My dog, Feta, is equitable when it comes to his toys. Basically, he loves every toy he gets and destroys them almost immediately, but one that has stuck around longer than almost any other is this green dinosaur toy. At least it used to be a green dinosaur toy—now it’s just a deflated, shapeless green mess, but he still loves it. We got it from a neighbor who was giving away some toys in a bin in front of their house. We were on a walk, saw the bin, and Feta immediately made a beeline to the dino toy. He grabbed it and carried it in his mouth all the way back to our apartment. The toy doesn’t have a name—it doesn’t even have a face anymore—but he still gets excited every time he sees it.” —Cody Mello-Klein

The Cocoon Compadre

Earl the black cat brings some color into his life with Mr. Caterpillar.Sarah Timko

“My cat Earl’s favorite toy is Mr. Caterpillar—a rainbow striped caterpillar that’s attached to a wand. The first time he played with Mr. Caterpillar, he was so excited that he held the toy in his mouth and growled—at no one in particular, but just to warn everyone that this was his toy. Since then, Earl likes to drag Mr. Caterpillar across the living room and place him on my lap for me to wave around while he chases and pounces on it. We play with this toy so much that he’s now on his third Mr. Caterpillar.” —Sarah Timko

The (Literally) Big Three

Oscar with his giant “Lamby” toy.Cait Knoll

My 11.5 year old Black Lab, Oscar, is obsessed with gigantic toys. He’s not a tiny dog (he weighs in at around 65 pounds), and these toys are each essentially half his size. His top two favorite “giants” are a lion named “Mac” and an extra-large Lamb Chop toy affectionately named “Lamby.” When we get home, Oscar will almost always grab one of them to greet us, parading around with Mac or Lamby hanging from his mouth. If we’re watching TV, he’s either snoozing on top of one of them or soaking them with spit–he has a weird pacifying move where he just gnaws on them, over and over and over again. Wherever Oscar is, Mac and Lamby are surely not far. —Cait Knoll, Executive Producer at Dotdash Meredith

Eight Days of Friendship

Peanut the pug with her Hanukkah crinkle toys.Rachael Friedman

“My pug, Peanut, is obsessed with any kind of crinkle toy. Any time I give her a new one, she celebrates by running and thrashing around. It gets her so excited. Her latest obsessions are some festive Hanukkah crinkle toys from my mom.” —Rachael Friedman


Duke with his favorite plush toy, Squirr.Emily Larrabee

“Duke is the self-appointed Squirrel Catcher of the neighborhood. As a 4-year-old rescued pitbull mix, he makes an unlikely hunting dog, but Duke’s beloved “Squirr” toy—now completely devoid of any stuffing or squeakers that once filled its insides—would beg to differ. Duke even insists on conducting squirrel-catching training sessions, during which he relentlessly chases Squirr around our tiny apartment. I feel like he’s training in case we encounter a deadly, dangerous squirrel on one of our morning runs.” —Emily Larrabee

There’s nothing quite as sweet as a pet with their favorite toy. Does your pet have a special friend? Share with us on social media using the hashtag #TheSprucePets.

Please remember to only give your dogs toys that are safe for them, and consult your veterinarian if you have a question about a new toy before you give it to your pup.

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