I'm always looking for unique new dog toys to spoil my senior American Bully Greta with, and I couldn't resist the hype surrounding TikTok's now-viral crawling crab toy. So sue me!
With hundreds of videos showing thrilled pups eagerly pouncing and chasing after the motorized crab as it skittered across floors, it seemed like the perfect interactive game for my pup. Sure, she has zero prey drive and is not easily impressed by toys, but for some reason, I figured this self-scuttling crab would captivate her instincts in no time.
As you'll see, her reaction didn't quite match the excited chasing and pouncing I'd seen in all those TikTok videos. Spoiler alert - the results were hilariously anti-climactic compared to the social media hype and she was less than impressed with this viral sensation.
That doesn't mean it won't be your dog's new favorite toy. Here's why:
Why (most) dogs love interactive toys
For dogs, playtime is so much more than just fun and games. Interactive toys provide invaluable mental and physical enrichment for our soulful sidekicks. More than just a distraction, these toys tap into key canine instincts and allow dogs to engage both their bodies and minds. But what is it exactly about interactive toys that make dogs go crazy for them?
These toys are constructed to provide the perfect outlet for natural dog behaviors like hunting, chasing, and catching. Interactive toys create a rewarding cycle of play, engaging your pup's mind through problems solving and discovery.
There are a few key reasons why dogs tend to really enjoy interactive toys:
Stimulation - Interactive toys present physical and mental challenges to keep dogs engaged and stimulated, staving off boredom. The unpredictable movements trigger their natural prey drive.
Independence - Dogs like being able to play independently with a toy that moves on its own rather than needing a human to animate it. It allows for solo play.
Rewarding - The "hunt and catch" payoff when they pounce on an unpredictable moving toy provides a sense of accomplishment and reward for dogs.
Instincts - The erratic motions tap into dogs' natural instincts to stalk, chase down, and capture prey. Interactive toys allow them to safely act out these innate behaviors.
Variety - Automated toys present more variability in play than regular static toys, introducing an element of surprise and adaptability.
Exercise - Chasing after moving toys gives dogs valuable physical activity and exercise. It allows pent-up energy to be released.
Bonding - For dogs who don't have much outdoor space, interactive toys can be a way for owners to still play together indoors and interact with their pets.
The self-propelling, erratic nature of interactive dog toys strongly appeals to canine instincts in a rewarding way that static toys cannot match. They provide dogs with much-needed mental and physical enrichment.
What is the viral crawling crab toy?
The viral "crawling crab" dog toy refers to an interactive pet and children's toy that resembles a realistic crab and moves around on its own. It is motorized, so the legs and claws move in a crawling motion. Its battery-operated motor allows the legs to skitter across the floor and can be charged when needed.
Built-in sensors detect motion and touch, causing the crab to scuttle away, sparking a chase game. This toy originally gained popularity on TikTok and other social media as pet owners filmed dogs excitedly chasing and pouncing on the crawling crab toy.
It claims to provide dogs with physical and mental stimulation trying to "catch" the crab as it scurries away, and prices range from $13-$40 depending on the specific version. Replacement batteries may be required over time.
In our research, we found that this toy is most suitable for medium to large-breed dogs based on the crab's 9-inch size. It is not intended for very aggressive chewers who may destroy it and ingest small parts.
So in summary, it's an interactive, self-moving dog toy that entices dogs to play based on its unpredictable crawling motions, making it a social media viral sensation. It taps into dogs' prey drives and provides an outlet for energetic dogs to release natural instincts.
Despite all the reasons above, not all pets will be intrigued by a self-moving sea creature. Here's why.
Why doesn't my dog like interactive toys?
There are a few potential reasons why a dog may not be intrigued or interested in an interactive toy:
Age - Older dogs or puppies may not have the energy, mobility, or instincts to persistently engage with a fast-moving interactive toy. It may frustrate or frighten them.
Health issues - Dogs with arthritis, injuries, or other health problems may find it painful or difficult to chase after a toy. The toy may be too quick for them.
Overstimulation - Some interactive toys are very fast or erratic, which could overstimulate and stress out anxious or easily frightened dogs.
Boredom - If the toy's movements are too predictable or simplistic, an intelligent dog may lose interest quickly once they "figure it out."
Distraction - The toy may not be as exciting as other stimuli in the environment competing for the dog's focus and attention.
Prey drive - Dogs with low prey drives or less enthusiasm for toys in motion may not feel compelled to pursue an interactive toy.
Access to outdoor space - Dogs with regular access to yards may be less inclined toward indoor interactive toys.
Personality - Shy, lazy, or mellow dogs may not have the inherent drive or curiosity motivating them to play with an interactive toy.
My dog, unfortunately, failed to find any amusement in the crawling crab toy. I even took the scuttling crustacean outside to see if a change of environment would help. Sadly Greta lost interest as soon as it was unboxed.
Knowing what I now know about interactive toys, I'm going to assume that her older age (10), low prey drive, and mellow disposition are all strong factors why this viral sensation didn't keep her entertained. That's okay - our pets can't all be stars!
After all this talk about dogs, cat parents might be wondering - is this better suited for my feline?
Do cats like interactive toys?
When it comes to stimulative play, cats can absolutely enjoy interactive toys as much as their canine counterparts. Interactive cat toys feature things like erratic motion, unpredictable sounds, and movement in response to kitty's actions.
Just like dogs, these toys appeal to felines' natural hunting instincts to stalk, chase, and pounce. Plenty of cats love toys that challenge them with sporadic motion to capture their focus and excite their prey drive.
Toys like feather wands and automated mice offer the opportunity for simulation and exercise. Cats especially like toys that tap into their love of exploring and discovering new things. Interactive cat toys allow them to flex both their bodies and minds for enrichment. They provide valuable solo playtime for cats to mimic hunting.
While individual preferences vary, interactive toys that trigger a cat's instincts create an outlet for natural behaviors in an indoor setting. When shopping for cat toys, look for ones with variability, motion, sounds, and hidden treats or openings to leverage a cat's ingenuity for playtime.
Lizz Caputo is the Manager of Content Strategy at Figo, animal enthusiast, and owner of a rescued senior American Bully. Her hobbies include checking out new restaurants in her area, boxing, and petting dogs of all shapes and sizes.