Why Do Dogs Like Sticks?

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Dogs have long been synonymous with throwing sticks. Whether that’s playing fetch, or your dog just naturally gravitates towards them, we’re sure that your dog just loves to have a stick in their mouth.

But why exactly do dogs like sticks? What is it about these wooden objects that your canine finds so enticing?

It is thought that one reason behind your dog’s obsession with sticks is because they are bone shaped. This may sound like a logical reason at first, but sticks don’t have the same tasty smells or flavors as bones.

Another reason could be because wood is a soft material, so dogs find it easier to chew – puppies in particular. Some dogs also like the feel of bark against their gums.

Dogs like to naturally source their own toys. In fact, dogs love foraging, and hunting down sticks is just one way that they like to enjoy using their natural skills.

Depending on where your dog found their stick, this could carry a whole bouquet of aromas that your dog just finds intriguing.

Another factor to consider is that when your dog plays fetch, they are enjoying spending time with you. So they could love sticks so much because they know you’re going to throw them far to be fetched back to you, so they get to spend more quality time with you.

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Why do dogs like to carry sticks?

So bearing the above things in mind, you may also be wondering why dogs like to carry sticks. You may also be wondering why dogs will bring sticks home with them to make a collection.

The answer to this is because dogs naturally like to retrieve things. They have a natural instinct to collect their prized sticks and bring them back home.

Dogs were also bred to naturally retrieve things such as game during hunting expeditions. This is a behavior that has been bred into dogs over centuries, so it’s only natural that it’s remained in your family pet.

As we’ve mentioned above, dogs also like to chew or carry sticks in their mouth because it helps to relieve pain from their gums and their teeth. If your dog is suffering from any oral health issues, they find chewing the texture of the wood soothing. Certain types of wood even come with natural pain relieving properties, such as willow trees.

If your dog wants to carry a stick around in its mouth, this is perfectly normal doggy behavior. 

Is it okay for dogs to eat sticks?

This will entirely depend on the type of stick that your dog has found. While most sticks are harmful, there are a couple of factors you will need to consider when it comes to letting your dog play with sticks.

Some wood or bark can be poisonous to your dog, and cause them a whole load of health issues that we’re sure you’d rather avoid.

You shouldn’t let your dog play with any red oak, black walnut, black locust, black cherry, red maple, or yew tree branches.

These are some of the most toxic woods and types of bark for dogs. If you suspect that your dog may have played with a stick from one of these trees, you should take them to your vet immediately.

Another factor to consider is you shouldn’t let your dog chew a harmless stick for too long. Even though it can help to relieve pain from their teeth or gums, or it may even be soothing, the smaller splinters can also prove to be a problem for your dog’s health.

These can get stuck in your dog’s throat, stomach, or other important organs. If the splinters get embedded in your dog’s gums, these can also become infected over time.

Larger chunks of wood could also get lodged in your dog’s throat if they’re swallowed, which could lead to asphyxiation or choking.

Should I let my dog pick up sticks?

Golden Labrador swimming with a stick in its mouth.

So now that we know there are some dangers that come with some sticks, it’s only natural that you’ll be worried about your dog. 

There isn’t much harm in letting your dog pick up sticks, providing that this stick is a harmless type of wood. It will be worth getting familiar with the types of poisonous trees that we’ve mentioned above so that you can prevent your dog from accidentally picking one of these up.

Another factor to consider is that if you’re not careful when you throw the stick, it could also damage your dog’s mouth. If it’s not a smooth stick, and there are lots of little branches or jagged pieces of wood coming off the stick, this could be dangerous.

Depending on the angle your dog catches the stick at, these other smaller branches or jagged bits could damage your dog’s mouth or throat.

It’s best to be cautious when it comes to encouraging your dog to play with sticks, so that you can ensure they’re able to stay safe.

In summary

So now we know more about why dogs love sticks! There’s no clear cut answer as to why this is, and it’s most likely down to a variety of reasons. Your dog could also like making a collection of different sticks, because the various smells that come with them are really interesting.

Dogs also like to chew sticks because the softer wood can be kinder on puppies’ gums and teeth, as well as being wonderfully relieving for dogs that suffer from oral issues.

However, there are a few factors you will need to be wary of. It’s best not to let your dog chew their stick for too long in case the smaller chunks or splinters cause them any issues.

It’s wise to be careful when playing with sticks in case any jagged or rough parts of the wood hurt your dog. You will need to be mindful of the fact that not all wood is suitable for use with your dog.

Some of these woods and bark can be very poisonous. As long as you exercise caution, your dog should be able to enjoy its sticks safely!