Playing fetch with sticks is a shared and natural trait that all dog owners may find common. Sticks are attractive to dogs for a large variety of reasons. Dogs like sticks not only because they like to play fetch with them, there are also instinctive traits that come with sticks that dogs are naturally drawn to no matter the breed.
So just why do dogs like sticks? Dogs like sticks because the smell and texture are instinctively tied to their evolutionary traits with forest-dwelling wolves. Additionally, dogs associate sticks with toys and play items as well as durable and tasteful items to gnaw on to strengthen their teeth.
If you have ever wondered what details make all dogs drawn to sticks, then this is the article for you.
We will explore exactly what draws dogs to sticks in terms of playfulness, usefulness, and look at whether it is okay to allow your dog to eat sticks. We will also take a look at how Cavapoos in particular respond to sticks. Read on to find out more.
Why do dogs like to carry sticks?
The most obvious trait you will likely notice is that your pooch likes to carry sticks. This directly relates to the trait within dogs to play and expel energy through mental and physical stimulation. When dogs carry sticks, they are satisfying the inquisitive side of their nature, which is what they are doing when they pick up a stick.
Dogs use sticks as toys
Once they pick up a stick and notice that it is light enough to carry around as a toy or possession, they will covet it just as they would an indoor chew toy.
More often than not, a stick is a handy object that dogs find when they explore and forage through nature, and the stick is a great object to take back to you to encourage playtime and bonding.
Dogs will also carry sticks because it provides them a sense of accomplishment. As mentioned, dogs love exploring and foraging because their minds are always curious, and nothing is more satisfying than for a dog to find a stick and carry their new treasure to show it off.
Dogs carry sticks for defence
Many dogs will also carry a stick because it can serve as signs of a defence mechanism for any other dogs that may be around. This is a less understood reason but it is possible that carrying a stick is a good way of telling nearby dogs to approach at your own risk.
Dogs like to hunt things…even sticks!
But perhaps the most logical reason has to do with the instinct that dogs have to hunt which is ingrained in their DNA from their wolf ancestors. Yes, even the tiniest or most fluffy and boutique of dogs, like a Cavapoo, has small traces of this inherited instinct.
In addition to the above reasons concerning exploring and gathering, a dog’s sense of smell and attraction to hunting (even a non-living object), provides a great way for your dog to show off their prize to you.
Even playing fetch with your dog with a stick they retrieved is part of this instinct, as your dog will find enjoyment in tossing their prize back and forth in the air as they retrieve it just as wolves or even killer whales will do with the prey they have captured. This isn’t a comforting notion, but nature isn’t always a pretty thing.
But all in all, dogs like to carry sticks because they view it both as a toy and a prize.
Why do dogs like to play with sticks?
When asking the question of why do dogs like sticks, the most obvious reason for the question will be based on how much they play with the items.
In addition to finding enjoyment in tossing around their captured prize, dogs also like the energy and engagement that comes with playing with a stick.
Dogs use their mouths for practically everything; in fact, the only time they use their legs and paws is when walking or responding to attention from their owners. Just as we like to use our hands to feel objects, dogs use their mouth in much the same way.
If your dog loves to play, you will likely notice that they use their mouth for this activity, and sticks are just another useful object they use to taste different textures and even play with.
Most importantly, sticks offer dogs a great excuse for playing with their owners. If there are no toys outside, it is perfectly natural to observe a dog finding a stick to bring back to you for a game of fetch.
Why do Cavapoo dogs like to eat sticks?
Dogs chewing sticks and sometimes eating them is perfectly natural. This is no different for Cavapoos just as it would be for a St. Bernard. This all boils down to a few different reasons and primarily this has to do with taste and texture.
You likely already know that dogs love to spend time gnawing on dog chews, and in fact, dogs will teethe and gnaw on practically anything as long as it has a distinctive taste and can exercise their gums and teeth.
Just as dog chews provide a distinctive taste of meat, wooden sticks also have more natural tastes and smells that trigger a Cavapoo’s evolutionary instincts.
Additionally, dogs are attracted to sticks because they are also similar in shape and texture to bones. Just as a bone will allow a dog to chew at its own pace for both teething and to relieve sore gums, a stick will provide the same benefits for a dog.
Dogs love bones for the taste as well, and the taste of a stick satisfies their evolutionary trait associated with living in forests where sticks were the only items wolves had that could stand in as a substitute for bones.
Also, different sticks have different tastes but are not recommended for dog chewing; fruit trees, red oak black locust wood, walnut black cherry wood, black walnut, and a few others are some of the most attractive smells and tastes for dogs chewing on sticks, but these sticks can activate a toxic response to your dog’s sensitive system.
If you have ever noticed how a dog that spends most of its life indoors loves to eat grass and leaves, the same reason is associated with chewing sticks. Sticks have a woodsy, earthy smell that attracts dogs and provides a great way to experience tastes and textures associated with nature. We have written some interesting articles on why Cavapoos eat grass and chase leaves, so be sure to read these too!
Rosie can spend hours chewing on a stick in our backyard, and can sniff one out from what feels like miles away!
The texture is important as well, since some sticks and twigs can be gnawed down for chewing while others offer a great way for dogs to fulfil teething with objects outside of the home.
Finally, a Cavapoo may also smell things on a stick that would not be recognizable to our sense of smell. Yuck!
Is it ok for my dog to eat sticks?
Chew sticks are already a common type of dog toy and treat, and regular sticks fulfil the same purpose. Eating the wood fragments of a stick is a much different scenario than simply chewing a stick.
For the most part, a dog will likely not ingest the stick fragments that break off during the chewing process. But if they do, this could cause a stomach upset and possibly even bowel problems if the wood fragments are too large or hard.
Additionally, there is the possibility that the stick fragments could stick into the lining of your dog’s mouth or even cause gum bleeding. Again, most dogs will not allow their stick chewing to get to this point, but there are certainly possibilities where a dog may ingest stick fragments since they may have a nutritional deficiency of certain earthy nutrients.
Are sticks toxic to dogs?
There is also the concern of your dog ingesting toxins or even parasites from eating stick fragments since the outside world is where most dogs bring in certain parasites like worms.
In more extreme circumstances, a sharp stick fragment could puncture a dog’s esophagus or even their stomach, which will require immediate veterinary attention.
My parents had a Sprocker called Millie (Springer Spaniel crossed with a Cocker Spaniel) that once swallowed a stick which got stuck in her stomach! This proved to be a very expensive lesson as to why dogs such not eat sticks as Millie had to have hours of surgery, just to remove it!
For these reasons, it is okay for a dog to chew a stick but it may help to monitor your dog to make sure they are not swallowing any fragments that they break off.
You could also allow your dog to play with a stick but not allow them to chew the stick just to be on the safe side.
Why are dogs sick after eating sticks?
As previously mentioned, there are some health concerns that can be associated with dogs ingesting stick fragments.
More often than not, this will usually involve your dog feeling sick to their stomach and having little or no energy due to the sickness. To be safe, and to rule out some possibly serious complications that can affect your dog from eating sticks, take your dog to a veterinarian.
If your dog has become ill due to sharp stick fragments in its system, this could possibly require surgery to remove the fragments so they do not shred stomach tissue or do the same once they pass through your dog’s intestinal tract.
A vet may also want to perform the surgery just to be sure no bacteria on the wood passes into the rest of your dog’s system.
How to get a dog to stop eating sticks?
Getting a dog to stop eating sticks will not be easy due to the natural instincts described above. You certainly cannot expect to keep your dog indoors all the time, therefore, it will be up to you to monitor your dog’s activity when they are outdoors.
A dog chewing a stick is usually fine and natural, but there is too much risk involved if they decide to break off and swallow the stick fragments. Try substituting sticks for chews instead. We particularly like these Beef Bully Sticks which can be bought on Amazon.
Another way to stop this behavior is to bring some of your dog’s favorite toys outdoors and spend outdoor playtime using these items to prevent your dog from roaming around to find sticks.
If it has become a problem with your dog, consider keeping your dog on a long leash while outdoors as this will allow him/her to explore and enjoy themselves without getting ahold of sticks.
What are dogs lacking when they eat wood?
Wood contains several vitamins and minerals, and it is not uncommon for dogs to chew and eat wood if they are lacking certain nutrients they are not getting from their diet. Calcium is a major mineral that is found in wood, and if you are having problems with your dog eating wood, this is likely the primary nutrient they are not receiving in their diet.
So, why do dogs like sticks? Sticks provide a great play toy for dogs of all breeds and are directly linked to their evolutionary behaviors. Dogs like to chew on sticks because the texture and taste may allow them to tase something different or, it could be that your dog is missing key vitamins and nutrients that are found in the wood, such as calcium.
It is perfectly okay to allow your dog to play and softly chew sticks, but make sure that your dog does not eat the wood to prevent sickness.