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How do I stop my dog from destroying their toys? From the photos on this post, you will see this question is a personal frustration I have experienced with Fynn. He has always been a super chewer/destroyer. We have worked with him to prevent a constant mess in the house and fluff everywhere (although, we’re not always successful).
If you’re here, you know the scene. You scour Chewy or Amazon for the perfect toy for your *angel* (or go to the sale section to buy the most affordable). You know your dog is a super chewer, but this review swears it held up for the reviewers crazy pup. With fingers crossed (and a bit of skepticism), you buy the toy. Delivery day comes and here it is, the new toy(s). Maybe you give the box to your dog to destroy first (our dog, Fynn, prefers the paper inside). You painstakingly take all the tags off and pray this is the one your dog will treat with loving care (ha!).
You make your dog sit and tell them “be gentle” passing them the toy with a wince. Off they go, shredding and destroying this
minutes seconds ago perfect toy. Now it’s up to you to pick up the massacred pieces from the floor. If you’re lucky, a part is in tact enough to be saved for the toybox of corpses.
There are a few different reasons your dog may be destroying their toys as well as many opinions on whether to allow the destruction to happen. This post will explore:
- Why your dog destroys
- Should you let them destroy their toys?
- How to stop them from destroying their toys?
- A few tough options they won’t destroy as fast
Why your dog destroys their toys
One of the theories on why your dog loves the squeaky toys – it pulls at their ancestral instinct. While your pup lives a life of luxury with their food delivered in a silver bowl, their ancestors were predators and hunters.
Potential TMI but, the squeak is reminiscent of the sounds the prey made and how they knew the hunt was not yet over. This would explain why your dog “goes for the heart” and is driven to make sure the squeaker is no longer making a peep.
People don’t do it purposefully but we can be teaching our dogs to destroy their toys. When dogs first start playing with toys, we find it humorous or cute to see them bound and shake their the toy, especially as a puppy. We all know how sharp a baby pups teeth are but their jaw strength isn’t there to do much damage to the toy. Our claps and support make the puppy think their playing correctly and doing the right thing.
As the puppy grows into a full dog, these encouraged adorable actions now turn into full on toy annihilation. Dogs want attention. Just like learning to sit and shake, they’ve received attention from destroying their toys and it will lead to more destruction.
If your dog is destroying out of boredom, the scene I set in the beginning is not likely what you’re experiencing. Your dog may be loving with their toys but then randomly one day you find the toy destroyed on your floor. This could be out of frustration or boredom.
If you’re experiencing this, make sure your dog is getting enough mental stimulation and physical activity. When they’re home alone, you may want to leave them with a KONG or have a dog walker come by to give them a break during the day.
They love the interaction
A soft squeaky toy is interactive. Unlike their bone, which just sits there or their ball which maybe gives a bit while they’re chewing, a squeaky toy makes noise and changes while they’re going at it. Not only does it make noises, the seams rip and the stuffing comes out – it changes as they play. It’s entertaining and even mentally stimulating with a cause (the dogs bite) and effect (the squeak).
The dog has to work to figure out the toys weaknesses and how to get to it’s “heart.” This interaction makes the toy extra fun to some dogs.
You’re buying the wrong toys
Dogs come in all shapes and sizes and these days, dog toys do as well. A toy for a 5lb Chihuahua is not the right choice for a 50lb lab. 26lb Fynn has two 4lb aunties and we know we need to pick up all their toys when we arrive. Fynn does not need to try to destroy but their toys are so small he rips through them with just a quick chew.
Make sure you’re following the manufacturers recommendation for toy size. If you have a super chewer, you may want to go a size up. Also, you often get what you pay for. So a cheap toy may be made cheaply. Even expensive soft toys may not be made well so it is often through experimentation to figure out the toys that work for your dog.
Should you stop your dog from destroying their toys?
There are a few school of though about whether to stop your dog from destroying. Whether you stop them or not, soft squeaker toys should always be given under supervision.
A big reason to end the killings is a selfish one: the pain to your purse. Continuously buying toy is expensive – even if you are getting them from the deals section of Chewy or at a discount store like Marshalls/HomeGoods. For this reason alone, you may want to prevent your destroyer from going after their toys.
The biggest problem with letting your dog destroy their toys is the health risk. There’s a chance your furry friend could eat the stuffing/squeaker/remains. If eaten, your dog could choke or the piece could cause a bowel blockage which could be deadly if not handled properly. Blockages may require surgery to fix.
But, people do believe in letting their dog destroy their toys because it’s stimulating and their dog gets enjoyment from the act. It also can let you teach them to destroy their toys rather than your cushions. If this is your decision, make sure to highly supervise while your pup is destroying.
How to teach your dog to stop destroying their toys
First, refer to the section on buying the wrong toys above. Now that you have the right tough toy for your dog, let the training begin. Our goal here is for your dog to “play nice” with their toys. Playing nice looks like rolling, tossing or mouthing.
- Ask you dog to do a simple command like sit and reward them with the toy.
- If playing nicely, reinforce the good behavior with treats, attention and pets
- If your dog starts trying to destroy or rip the toy apart, break their attention from the toy with an “eh-eh.” If this does not work, try a clap to get their attention. You’re not punishing your pup – he’s just doing what their instinct tell them to – but rather looking to distract them and stop the unwanted behavior
- Once your dog goes back to the toy and plays appropriately, reward again
This will not be a one time, one session teaching. You will have to work with your pup on how to play nice. This is not the type of training where you need to be zoned in with your dog so you can be watching tv or something else but make sure you’re paying attention to what your pup is doing.
Tough Toy Recommendation
While no toy is indestructible, here are a few curated, high quality options for your toy destroyer from many recommendations, reviews and personal experience. The brands here are all quality and have multiple toy options through each.
Fynn can chew through a toy within seconds, except for Fluff and Tuff toys. You can see his still alive gator in the photo of Fynn earlier in the article – which was taken while I wrote this post.
Don’t take my word for it though, read the reviews and see how long these toys last. While not indestructible (Fynn’s gator is missing a few legs and his back scales while his stingray is missing the tail), these toys are the closest thing we have found that last. They also wash up great in a washing machine.
Mighty’s material on this toy moves with your dogs teeth instead of trying to withstand them. Instead of being stuffed, these toys have multiple squeaker balls to hold their shape. Pay attention to the size on this one. The junior size is meant for junior sized dogs. As discussed previously in the article, you may want to go up a size for your superchewer.
Made of 4 layers, these are a classic recommendation for tough chewers. Because they don’t have the small details like arms and ears, it’s harder for your dog to find the toys weak spots to rip off. A great part of Tuffy toys is that the squeakers are in material pockets of their own. This allows you extra time to get to your dog if they do get the squeaker out.
Bonus hard chew recommendation: Benebone Chew Toy
Fynn has many of the Benebone’s because it entertains him and they’re almost impossible to destroy. All of my dog parent friends know my love for the “Bene” and that it is my go to recommendation. There has never been a negative review from them or their pup.
The wish bone shape is perfect for your pup to grab with their paws and get a great chew. We also love the dental chew because it’s good for the teeth and the shape makes for a comfortable grip. They also come in 4 sizes to make sure it’s the right size for your pups mouth. Even 4lb Luna has an extra-small Benebone for her chewing pleasure.