Whether it's your overexcited dachshund or a pack of African painted dog puppies, a good stick toy is hard to resist. 

Filmed by Michelle Campbell Harris while on holiday in South Africa’s Kruger National Park, this clip shows a pack of African painted dog puppies taking on a tree branch ... in suitably adorable fashion.

For painted dogs (Lycaon pictus), strong social bonds are integral to life in the pack. When hunting, each dog has a role to play, and it’s this efficient social hunting that makes these canines one of the most successful predators in Africa. (Nearly 80 percent of wild dog hunts end in a kill. You hear that, lions?) A tree branch might be a far cry from an impala, but playful behaviour like this helps the pups learn how to hunt in an organised and cooperative manner.

"Play behaviour in wild dog pups forms fundamental building blocks for the wild dogs' social structures and efficient cooperative hunting technique," says Grant Beverley, a field officer for the Kruger Park Wild Dog Project. "The pups playing with the stick in many ways simulates their hunting technique, where every member of the pack will assist in chasing down the prey to the point of exhaustion before it is disembowelled. These five puppies are from the 'Skukuza Pack' led by one of the oldest wild dogs in the Greater Kruger National Park. They would have started to join the adults on hunts observing and learning hunting behaviour."

According to a long-term study by the Endangered Wildlife Trust, wild dog populations in the Kruger National Park have been steadily declining since monitoring began there in 1989. The park is one of the last viable strongholds for these endangered canines, so sightings like this one are extra special.