Why Do Dogs Like Sticks So Much? A Complete Guide

why do dogs like sticks, labrador with stick

We all know that dogs love sticks. Wherever they go, they’re searching for the best one to bring home as a prized possession. But why do dogs like sticks so much? Is there science behind it? Or do our pups just love the taste of these woody objects?

In this blog, we’re going to take a look at all the reasons why dogs like sticks so you can understand your furry friend’s behavior that little bit better.

Why Do Dogs Like Sticks? 6 Reasons

There are quite a few reasons why dogs love sticks so much. Some of them have to do with instincts and others are purely because sticks are a lot of fun.

Reason #1: It’s The Retriever In Them

Many dog breeds, such as Spaniels and Labradors (and their mixed breed, the Springador), were specifically bred to retrieve prey.

Whether rabbits or waterfowl, these dogs instinctively like to carry things in their mouths and return them to their owners. They have a sense of duty to retrieve objects and give them to their humans as a gift in return for affection.

Even dogs that weren’t bred as retrievers may display this behavior. If, in the past, they’ve retrieved something that you liked, they may repeat this behavior in a bid to get your affection again.

Reason #2: Nature’s Dog Toy

Let’s be honest, as dog parents we can often forget their favorite toy in the car or at home. But when this happens, we have a good backup – sticks!

Whether your pup loves enormous sticks that they have to drag along the ground or smaller ones that fit neatly in their mouth, there’s no denying that sticks are fun.

The soft, chewy nature of a stick reminds dogs of bones (another of their favorite toys) and it’s a fun texture to gnaw on. Dogs carry sticks in their mouths on a walk just because it’s fun and feels good!

dog in snow with stick

Reason #3: Foraging Behavior

Dogs love to forage (it’s why they’re always in our trash) and what better reward for all their effort than a stick? Looking for sticks and carrying sticks is a fun activity for our pups to do that trains their noses, keeps them active, and engages them with their surroundings.

Entertaining snuffle mats are another wonderful way to get dogs foraging in a safe and fun environment. You can hide their favorite treats in amongst the pieces of fabric and keep them having fun whilst they look for them.

Reason #4: They Smell So Good

Canines have a much stronger sense of smell than we do. In fact, this sense of smell is why dogs do all sorts of weird behaviors like eating their own vomit and rolling in poop (really).

Sticks have an earthy, woodland smell that may have traces of animals or other dogs which pups find really attractive. Chewing sticks and playing with them releases even more smells which makes them even more attractive to doggos.

Reason #5: Seeking Attention

Dogs love getting attention from their pet parents. It helps to strengthen your bond with them which can improve behavior and make them feel loved.

If your pup feels like they’re not getting enough attention, they may do some things that you can’t ignore. For instance, it’s hard to ignore a small, lilac French Bulldog dragging half a trunk along the floor.

When we laugh or engage in the behavior, they’re more likely to do it.

Reason #6: They’re Telling You How They Feel

Not in words as such, but interacting with you is a great way for dogs to communicate too. Dogs carry sticks home to show you they’re content and that they’ve had a fun time on the walk.

Generally speaking, dogs are happy when they chew sticks or play with them. It’s a sign that you’re doing a good job as a pup parent.

bulldog running with stick

Should You Let Dogs Play With Sticks?

If your dog loves sticks then they’re going to want to play with them too. But should you let them?

Usually, it’s perfectly safe to let your pup carry a stick in their mouth. It’s a fun and exciting thing for them to do.

But, there are a couple of risks when dogs eat sticks. Gnawing a lot on sticks can cause small pieces to splinter off which can get trapped in your dog’s teeth and even cause more severe problems such as choking or damage to their internal organs.

If your pooch is a big chewer, it’s safer to get them some chew toys (it’s best if they’re indestructible) as these can safely keep them entertained.

It’s also really important that your dog is well trained, especially with the command ‘drop’. If your pup starts eating sticks, you can distract them with a command and a healthy treat.

It’s also a good idea not to let dogs play fetch with sticks. Catching sharp sticks in their mouths can cause injury which can easily be avoided with tennis balls or other toys. We love ball launchers as they keep dogs entertained for ages, without you having to do all the work.

So, Why Do Dogs Like Sticks?

Many dogs love bringing back sticks from their adventures. Some of the reasons are instinctual (such as foraging and hunting) and others have to do with fun and entertainment.

Whilst it’s safe to let dogs carry sticks, you shouldn’t let them chew on them too much or play fetch. Sticks can easily splinter and these pieces can get stuck in your dog’s teeth and cause injury.

Whilst sticks are a fun and natural toy for dogs to play with, specifically designed doggy toys are generally safer for your pooch.