Many dogs love sticks. For some, it's the thrill of the chase when the stick is thrown. Others just like the satisfaction of gnawing on wood. And some just like carrying around their prize like a trophy. Plus, it doesn't hurt that sticks look a lot like bones. What's not to love?
More than you might think, say many veterinarians who caution against letting dogs play with sticks. They've seen injuries ranging from splinters on a dog's tongue all the way to punctures in a roof of a dog's mouth or throat. Veterinarian Jason Nicholas points out that dogs that chase sticks often experience more damage than dogs that gnaw on them. So you may want to consider chew toys with less risk of injury.
Hopefully the only thing these dogs had after playing with sticks was a case of happy exhaustion.
Like this pup who couldn't keep his eyes open, but had to keep his stick close by.
Cooter holds tight to his stick while he rests. (Photo: Ted Drake [CC BY-ND 2.0]/Flickr)
This puppy loves his stick so much, he doesn't care how goofy he looks when he plays with it.
Oz, the Great Dane puppy, makes a silly face. (Photo: Jon Hurd [CC BY 2.0]/Flickr)
And this puppy is just gnawing on his stick.
Maybe he's teething. (Photo: schnaars [CC BY-SA 2.0]/Flickr)
But sticks aren't just for puppies. This senior dog found a whopper of a prize.
Libby, 12, waded out to find the perfect stick. (Photo: Pete Markham [CC BY-SA 2.0]/flickr)
Boomer, a Staffordshire bull terrier in the U.K., is very fond of sticks as you can see in the video below.
"This is him in one of our local parks last year," his mom says. "He found a huge stick but didn’t want to leave it behind. This shows his determination to get the huge stick through a small space. I tried to help him but as you can see on his second attempt, he didn’t quite have the brains to get the job done."
Lots of dogs are overachievers, often choosing sticks that are way bigger than they are.
'It didn't look this big when I picked it up.' (Photo: Zaskoda [CC BY 2.0]/Flickr)
And some aren't happy with just one.
Why carry just one stick? (Photo: Breanna Agnor [CC BY-ND 2.0]/Flickr)
Because why have one, when you can have two?
Bogart Handsome Devil loves his sticks. (Photo: Lulu Hoeller [CC BY 2.0]/Flickr)
Some dogs will spend time shredding the bark.
Luke gnaws on his stick. (Photo: m01229 [CC BY 2.0]/Flickr)
Others will share.
Bigsby and Fawks hold on to their prized find. (Photo: Doctor Popular [CC BY-SA 2.0]/Flickr)
Or ask friends for a little help when the sticks are too big to carry.
Some dogs will go to extremes to find their sticks.
Luka worked hard for his stick. (Photo: S. Carter [CC BY-SA 2.0]/Flickr)
Even if it means doing a little gymnastics when they're wearing a cone of shame.
Simon found a stick that will fit into his cone. (Photo: Tracy Rosen [CC BY-SA 2.0]/Flickr)
And then there's Lancelot, a rescued American bulldog/boxer mix who loves sticks so much. This time he found one that's more like a branch and might be just a little too much for him to handle. You go, Lancelot.
Editor's note: This story has been updated with new information since it was published in May 2018.