Does Your Canine Shred His Stuffies? [Here’s Help For Dogs Who Destroy Toys]
If you've ever brought a new puppy home, you may have noticed that they get to know their world by putting things in their mouths. They also teethe just like human babies. And similar to babies, puppies experience discomfort while teething, and chewing makes their gums feel better. You can find puppy teething rings at pet stores and online.
As your puppy becomes a dog, you may have another issue. Have you ever visited your local pet store and found the perfect squeaky plush toy for your dog, imagining him or her carrying it around, and looking adorable while playing with the toy?
What really happens is that you give your dog the toy and within 30 seconds, your dog shreds the toy leaving nothing behind but a cloth shell and cotton remains scattered over the floor?
Why does your dog love destroying its toys? According to experts, there a different and specific reasons your dog behaves in this manner.
- No one trained the puppy about what to chew
- Boredom or neglect
- Separation anxiety or fear
- Seeking attention
As you spend more time around your dog and notice their behaviors, you can choose more appropriate toys. If your dog has separation anxiety and/or fear-based behaviors, please talk to your veterinarian. If your dog has consistent teeth chattering, your vet may be able to help as well.
A Dog is Still Part Wolf
Although the theory is controversial, some experts say that because dogs descended from wolves they have kept the prey instinct to chase, catch and destroy prey. Some even claim the squeaky furry toys sound like an injured animal. The noise may instigate their prey instinct. My dog tends to tear the squeaker out of his toy first and then empties it of its soft insides.
If you have an intelligent, high-activity dog, like a Border Collie or a Labrador Retriever, they are known to become easily bored. In addition, if you have a busy lifestyle that keeps you out of the house and your dog alone, you may be in for a world of trouble. Dogs need frequent exercise and intellectual stimulation, and if they don't get it, they might chew furniture, bark nonstop, or destroy their toys.
Just like with humans, dogs need exercise for their minds and bodies. Most dog breeds get a charge out of solving puzzles or trick toys, like the ones where the pup has to figure out how to get the treat out of the toy. So, when your dog destroys their toy, to them it's as though they met a challenge. Bear in mind, if you laugh at your puppy when he shreds his toys, you are reinforcing that behavior.
Is There Help For Dogs Who Destroy Toys?
An easy way to tackle your dog destroying his toys, is by spending time with your dog. For instance, my Labradors just about refuse to stay in the yard without me. So, I will go out to pull weeds or clean up poop and they come out with me. We may engage in a game of fetch or they may start playing with each other simply because mom's around.
If your dog suffers from separation anxiety, he may chew up area rugs, socks, or his toys. If you're unable to adjust your work schedule to be home more, or your dog continues to destroy items, take them to the veterinarian and get some advice.
How to Have Safe Fun With Your Dog
You may have noticed that your dog enjoys your positive reactions. They want to please you and love interacting with you. Therefore, completely eliminating the stuffed toys may keep you and your dog from having some fun.
When you’re out of the house, however, stow the destructible toys and replace them with the more rugged toys that are less likely to cause your dog any physical harm through choking or ingesting.
Toys made of solid rubber are likely to survive the most active dogs. However, be mindful of narrow pieces and/or protruding parts that your dog can bite off (such as the orange ball pictured above). Generally balls make good toys for canines. However, make sure they’re larger than your dog’s mouth so there's no chance for choking. You can purchase balls with a secret treat inside, i.e., a puzzle for your dog to solve, or an auto-ball launcher for a great game of fetch.
Believe it or not, giving your dog an ice cube provides enjoyment and is a safe item to chew. My dogs prefer ice cubes that have been sitting in water, but yours may like them right out of the freezer. Also, remember items like pig ears and antlers are a beloved treat for most dogs. I save them for a special treat.
Avoid cheap toys that may be filled with beads or other dangerous insides. A quick internet search can lead you to sites with toys specifically made for dogs that destroy toys in seconds. Sturdy bone-shaped toys, rings, and more made of solid rubber are great alternatives to other items. While you may pay a bit more for the sturdier toys, the cost will be a lot less than an emergency trip to the vet!
If you have a dog that tears apart every toy you give him or her, there is hope! Recently, plush toys are available with no stuffing! So, they still have a soft exterior and squeakers, but when your dog rips open the stuffed animal, there is no stuffing. I've given these to my Black Lab/German Shepherd mix and he enjoys them just as much as the plushies.
Throw Them a Bone
Never give your dog cooked bones from pork or poultry. The bones become soft, splinter, and if your dog ingests the bones' sharp edges, they can wreak havoc on your dog's intestines, causing injury or even death. Raw bones, however, are good for your dog's teeth and will keep him or her busy. Store bought bones are a good choice as well, look for dental cleaning treats, which can be eaten, and the solid rubber bones.
Please supervise your dogs when they are playing with toys. Never leave them unattended. If you become worried they may choke or ingest dangerous materials, take the toy away and find something safer! When in doubt, ask for advice from your veterinarian or our favorite online dog trainer.
Additional Resource: AvidPup.com