Why Do labradors Like Soft Toys? (5 Reasons Explained)

By Benjamin Tash

Labradors are notorious for their of love of carrying soft toys or stuffed animals in their mouths.

They would be on cloud nine wagging their tails and parade the soft toy around the house to show everyone they’ve got something.

But what makes them love soft toys so much? In this article, we’ll cover the 5 main reasons in depth on why Labradors are obsessed with soft toys and we’ll then suggest some of the best long-lasting soft toys for your pooch.

Here Are The 5 Main Reasons Why Labradors Love Soft Toys So Much:

• Positive Feedback & Comfort
• Part of a Lab Retrieving Instinct
• Sense of Security
• Big Time Chewers
• Helps in Mental Stimulation

It’s important to understand why Labs have an inkling for soft toys so you can better understand your pooch’s natural wants and needs.

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5 Reasons Explained On Why Labs Love Soft Toys

1) Positive Feedback & Comfort

Being curious retrievers that they are, Labs are known to be obsessed with soft toys more than other breeds.

Since Labradors are inherently known to thrive on companionships, social bonds and attention – being presented with a soft toy signals a positive feedback from their owners. 

With a strong desire to please their owners, Labs oftentimes revel in the novelty of the experience when given new toys or stuffed animals to play with.

They may also get super pumped up about wanting to get treats or praises from engaging with they new soft toys, hence why they get all excited about the prospects of receiving new toys.

Labs may also find extreme comfort in those soft toys as the toys are able to produce a calming effect, especially when snuggled or cuddled in sleep.

Snuggling with a soft toy also helps in lowering their heart rate, thus aiding in relaxation. And it inadvertently creates a positive association with all soft toys in the future.

Hence that may explain why your pooch loves cushy soft toys overall.

Furthermore, soft toys with a comforting texture mimics the warmth, affection and hugging sensation they picked up on from their mothers as puppies.

Thus, they find extreme comfort and familiarity in such soft toys.

Labs are amongst the dogs with a strong distant memory due to their high intelligence, and the association of soft toys to the warmth and affection of their mothers would immediately create a positive feedback loop.

2) Part of a Lab Retrieving Instinct

Labradors have been bred in such a way that retrieving and having something in its mouth are part and parcel of its very existence.

They have been long praised for their exceptional ability in hunting and retrieving tasks, such as retrieving of fallen cods & hats in sea, hauling of nets as well as fetching game for hunters without causing much damage – all thanks to the power and versatility of a Labrador’s mouth.

These naturally ingrained tendencies in Labs have made soft toys or stuffed animals pretty appealing to them.

This is because soft toys are easily portable, lightweight, and mimic the appearance of a prey – hence the excitement of prey drive kicks in.

Soft toys also provide an outlet for Labradors to parade them around with their mouths, thus satisfying their natural retrieving instincts.

Labs also love soft toys as it triggers for a playtime, and they get tingled with excitement at the sight of soft toys as those toys are perceived as potential playthings.

Read also: Why Do Labradors Like To Carry Things In Their Mouth? What To Do About It?

3) Sense of Security

Labradors also love soft toys out of the familiarity that they bring. Since Labradors are social butterflies and they thrive on companionships, they would often turn to their go-to soft toy for company, comfort and security if they are left alone for an extended period of time.

Since Labradors are highly social, they thrive on familiarity. Familiarity provides a reassurance of safety and relaxation in times of stress, boredom or uncertainty – more so for a social dog like Labradors.

For instance, the familiar presence and scent of soft toys or stuffed animals may provide emotional  and psychological relief to Labs in vet centers or when they are anxious.

The familiarity of scent on those soft toys also helps them stay relaxed and be in ease with their surroundings due to the positivity associated in these toys, apart from the sense of companionship.

Check also: Why Do Labradors Love Socks? (4 Reasons & 5 Tips Explained)

4) Big Time Chewers

Labradors have a natural urge to chew as it’s deeply ingrained in their genes to always have something in their mouths as their way of exploring and interacting with things.

Labradors are high energy dogs and since they have such strong drives to hold something in their mouths, chewing is an inevitable urge that is highly prevalent in this breed – from puppyhood to adulthood.

Labs typically find soft toys appealing due to their soft and comforting texture, apart from how they fit a Lab’s mouth well and how portable they are.

Labradors may also perceive soft toys as a suitable outlet to satisfy their natural chewing urges whenever they are bored, understimulated or when in stress.

Not only that, they also love chewing on other soft textured materials such as shoes, socks or ropes that resemble the soft toys they’ve been exposed to.

This is because soft toys provide a satisfying mouthfeel whenever they chew on it and that can be very comforting for a Lab’s soft mouth.

You might also be interested in How Do Labradors Play With Other Dogs? (All You Should Know)

5) Helps With Mental Stimulation

Soft toys, especially the squeaky ones, are highly favored by Labs as these toys can be very mentally stimulating and engaging.

Labradors are highly intelligent dogs, and they are also a very active breed that requires tons of exercise, mental and sensory stimulation to keep them engaged and ward off boredom.

These soft toys often comes in a wide variety of shapes, functionality, and scents that may engage with a Labrador’s acute sense of smell, and sight.

This in turn may provide them with a huge sensory stimulation as they explore these toys with much curiosity.

Furthermore, given that Labradors are high energy social butterflies; they love to engage in imaginative play with these soft toys – especially stuffed animals with squeaky sounds or toys with hidden treats inside of them.

And that’s because this type of play would stimulate and boost their creativity skills as they come up with new interactive ways to play with the toys.

It can also help Labs develop their cognitive skills and problem-solving skills whenever they play with these types of soft toys/stuffed animals.

Not to mention that squeaky soft toys would also oftentimes trigger a Lab’s dormant prey drive upon hearing a high-pitched squeaky sound that mimic the sound of a prey.

That would pique a Lab’s high curiosity and trigger an interactive play or exploration with such toys – thus keeping their minds engaged and helps them get mentally stimulated.

It’s also important to keep in mind that an active mental stimulation with soft toys/stuffed animals also provides a positive association or a positive feedback loop in Labs, especially when the toys are highly engaging and comfortable. And that is why most Labs love soft toys and stuffed animals.

Check also: Why Do Labradors Steal Things? (and Food!) What To Do About It?

What Kind of Soft Toys Are The Best For Labs

Labradors are energetic big time chewers and they have strong jaws, so it’s of paramount importance to equip them with  long lasting & durable soft toys for the best buck.

Most plushies would get easily torn apart within minutes however, and the worst part is – your Lab could be at risk of swallowing them which may cause potential blockages or punctures in their system.

Here are some of the long lasting durable soft toys that I personally recommend for Labradors:

1) MULTIPET Duckworth Plush Filled Dog Toy

This is by far the longest lasting soft stuffed duck toy I’ve seen most Labs play with.

And they really do love these toys – perhaps it mimics the prey that Labradors are inherently bred to hunt for. It also comes with a squeaker.

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Check Out The MULTIPET Duckworth Soft Toy Here At Amazon

Note that if your Lab is an aggressive chewer, this product may not be suitable.

2) Fluff & Tuff – Walter Wabbit Plush Dog Toy

This is another soft toy that most Labs love and it has a better durability and longevity thanks to its high quality fabric supported with a durable mesh liner.

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Check Out The Fluff & Tuff Walter Wabbit Toy Here At Amazon.

Your Lab can never go wrong with it.

3) Nylabone Power Chew Ring Toy Ring Medley X-Large/Souper

I would definitely recommend this product for your Lab if it’s an aggressive chewer. It’s made of the highest nylon quality and it’s very durable and easy to clean after use.

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Check Out The Nylabone Ring Toy Here At Amazon.

This Nylabone also helps boost your Lab’s dental health as it helps with teeth cleaning while chewing.

4) ZippyPaws Skinny Peltz (Unstuffed)

This plush toy is designed with a clever twist – it contains no stuffing! This thoughtful feature reduces the risk of your Labrador ripping it apart and accidentally ingesting any filling.

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Check out the Unstuffed ZippyPaws Skinny Peltz here at Amazon.

Despite its stuffing-free design, your Lab will be sure to find it engaging and comfortable.

5) Outward Hound Hide A Squirrel Plush Dog Toy Puzzle

This is a interactive puzzle plush toy where your Lab will be mentally and physically stimulated to engage with the squeaky squirrels.

It’s also durable and long-lasting for moderate biting, chewing or pulling.

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Check out the soft toy puzzle here at Amazon.

It’s also a very challenging game, so be sure to have your pooch preoccupied and tired out by the end of it.
I wouldn’t recommend this product if your Lab is an aggressive chewer though.

But with supervision, we can assure you that the this soft puzzle toy won’t get shredded to pieces by a mere bite or chew.

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Sources

LabradorForums: Soft Toys

LabradorForums: Toys that can survive a Heavy Chewers

AKC: Dogs and Squeaky Toys