If squeaky toys had a “Most Wanted” list, my dog Vinnie would be on it. He is a vicious murderer of squeaky toys. He especially loves to tear the innards out of them and then leave the white stuffing and chewed-up squeakers all over the house.
If you have a dog like this, you’re probably at your wit’s end and have even wondered: Should you let a dog destroy his toys? Are there any problems associated with this, or is it just a harmless bad habit that you have to put up with?
Should you let a dog destroy his toys? No. Although toy destruction may seem like a funny, relatively harmless activity, it can:
- Pose a danger to your pet’s health
- Be a waste of your hard-earned dollars
- Possibly teach your pup to chew and damage other items in your home.
So, what should you do if you own a toy murderer like mine?
You could, of course, take all of your dog’s toys and hide them from him or stop buying him new ones. But the reality is dogs need toys. In fact, according to The Humane Society of the United States, “toys are not a luxury, but a necessity.” So, instead of taking your dog’s toys away, we’ll provide you with some tips to help protect your canine’s favorite (and often expensive) toys.
First, a Little Background…
I have owned dogs my entire life, including Dachshunds, Wire Fox Terriers, an Australian Shepherd, a Dalmatian, and a Welsh terrier. I’ve also fostered several dogs for a rescue that saves canines from the meat trade in Korea. I also walk dogs once a week for another rescue, Friends of the Homeless Animals (FOHA).
And the one thing that all of the dogs that I’ve been around have had in common was a love of toys. It probably doesn’t help that I have a particular weakness for buying toys for my dogs. So, my house has multiple baskets with toys in varying stages of “health.”
A few of these toys have held up surprisingly well to living in the same house with a toy murderer, while others are tattered and torn and – let’s just say – well-loved.
Volunteering at a dog rescue has taught me a lot about dogs. For example, I learned that some dogs do not fare well with soft items, such as towels, blankets, and stuffed toys.
While my own dogs have never had an issue with eating soft things, I have met numerous dogs at the rescue who will gnaw and swallow anything made of fabric. And, so I have learned from these canines that not all toys are suitable for every dog.
I have also written numerous articles on dogs, for various websites. So I have put in hours of research on canine-related subjects, including toys.
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly of Dogs and Toys
Dogs need toys for various reasons. Some toys provide mental stimulation and can keep a dog from getting bored. Other toys give a dog an outlet for their need to chew on things. Still, other toys can actually be of comfort to a canine.
But what should you do if your pup is always ripping up his toys? Should you let a dog destroy his toys?
Why Do Dogs Destroy Their Toys?
My wire fox terrier Vinnie has a love/hate relationship with toys.
He is so excited when he gets a new one.
But then, as I’ve told you, my dog Vinnie destroys every toy I give him. Why? I believe it’s an instinct thing.
Vinnie is a terrier. They were bred to kill small things that squeak when you bite into them. If he were out on a farm, he would be chasing rats and squirrels and taking their “squeakers” out for real!
So, what about other breeds?
For instance, you may have a beagle that has a tendency to shred his toys. Why do beagles destroy toys? It may be that your Beagles is bored.
Beagles were bred to be pack animals, and they would often spend hours out hunting in the field. They are also considered a very intelligent breed. So, Beagles typically require regular exercise and mental stimulation. If you fail to provide these for your Beagle, he may rip his toys apart out of sheer boredom or frustration.
Other dogs may destroy their toys by accident.
For example, breeds, such as Pit bulls or Rottweilers, have mighty jaws. So, they can destroy a toy much quicker than, say, a Chihuahua.
Even sturdy, well-made toys often have trouble standing up to the jaw strength of a Rottweiler. Studies have shown that Rottweilers have a bite strength of 328 pounds of force. Pit bulls have a bite strength of 235 pounds of force. In comparison, a human has 120 pounds of bite pressure.
What’s another reason your dog may be destroying their toys? It could be because you’re giving them the wrong toys.
Let’s say you are buying your pup cheap, poorly made soft toys. But your dog has strong jaws. Chances are high, that soft toy is not going to last more than a few minutes with your dog-zilla.
And there’s one more surprising reason why your canine may be shredding their toys – you may be inadvertently encouraging your dog to do so in subtle ways. Perhaps, you’ve laughed at your dog as they enthusiastically mauled one of their toys. Or you may enjoy playing tug-of-war with your dog and their toys. By doing so, you may actually be sending a message to your dog that you like to see him play roughly with their toys.
Is Toy Destruction Normal?
Some dogs will never destroy their toys or will grow out of this habit once they reach adulthood.
But other canines will always take great pride in eviscerating their possessions. My Vinnie the Wire Fox Terrier’s big passion in life was to find a toy’s squeaker and then parade around the house with it in his mouth! This is actually pretty normal behavior for a terrier.
For other dog breeds, toy destruction may be a sign they are bored or having separation anxiety issues. Let’s say a working dog like a Border Collie, isn’t getting enough exercise or mental stimulation. They may take their frustration out on their toys and this is how the toy destruction cycle begins.
How to Teach a Dog Not to Destroy Toys
Are you tired of finding bits of torn-up toys strewn across your home? Then check out these tips on how to teach a dog not to destroy toys.
Give your dog the appropriate toys
Not all dog toys equal.
If you have a dog-zilla in your home, look for toys that are marketed as durable or for aggressive chewers.
Pay attention to how the toy is created. Some durable soft toys, for example, will boast multiple layers and have their squeakers in protective pouches.
Many aggressive chewers will target a toy’s seams, knowing that this is its weakest spot. So, search out toys that boast reinforced stitching. Also, don’t give a small, easily destroyed toy to a dog with powerful jaws like a Rottweiler or Pitbull.
Monitor your dog
If your dog is getting too aggressive with a toy, gently correct the pup by saying, “Leave it,” and then take the toy away.
Praise your pup
When you give the toy back to your dog, make sure to praise them if they plays nicely with the toy.
Put the toys away when you can’t monitor your dog
A bored canine or one with anxiety issues may take out their frustration on their toys if left home alone. So, remember to place all toys out of your pup’s reach when you’re away.
The exception? Toys – such as a Kong – that have been designed to keep your pup’s mind stimulated and entertained while you are away.
Never used a Kong before? These toys can be stuffed with a variety of fillings, such as plain yogurt, kibble, dog food or peanut butter — and then frozen. Check out the instructional video below. Your dog will have to work to get his treats out, which gives him something to do while you’re not with them.
What Other Things Can I Do to Stop My Dog from Destroying His Toys?
My dog rips stuffing out of toys. How can I stop it?
Anyone who has come home to an eviscerated stuffed toy knows that these small items contain a surprising amount of fluff. And it can get everywhere.
One solution? Look for the toys that have been manufactured without stuffing. My dog’s favorite stuffing-less toys are the ones that have a spot where you can insert an empty water bottle. The plastic bottle gives these toys a satisfying crunch that seems to really amuse most dogs.
I give my dog nylon bones to keep him entertained instead of toys. I’ve noticed bits of bone break off. Should I let my dog destroy toys like these? They are edible, right?
Unfortunately, no, they are not edible. If you read the packaging on these nylon bones, they are not actually meant to be eaten by canines.
In fact, according to the Canine Journal, nylon bones pieces can be hard for a dog to digest and can cause an obstruction in your dog’s bowels.
What about rawhide toys or cooked bones? Can I give these to my dog to distract him from destroying his toys?
Both rawhide and cooked bones can be dangerous for a dog to gnaw on.
Rawhide toys, for instance, are tough for a dog to digest. So, if your pet swallows large pieces, they could eventually end up with an intestinal blockage.
And because cooked bones can splinter, they can pose a serious danger to your pup’s mouth, throat, and gastrointestinal tract.
Are there Dog Toys that Are Indestructible?
“My dog eats all his toys,” is a common complaint I hear from friends. It’s also one reason why the no-kill rescue I volunteer at is very careful about leaving toys with certain dogs.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if there was such a thing as a genuinely indestructible toy for these dogs? A toy so rugged that even the most ardent chewers couldn’t damage them.
Do you believe the marketing hype?
There are, of course, numerous toys that are marketed as being indestructible or designed for extreme chewers. Most – such as the original Kong and the Monster K9 Indestructible Dog Ball – are made of durable rubber. The best of these toys have a little give to them, so that when a dog bites down on them, they can get the sensation of chewing on something.
These rubber toys are also easier on a dog’s teeth than ones made from a hard, unforgiving material. For the most part, these indestructible toys can stand up to a lot of chewing abuse. And some even come with a lifetime guarantee.
But are these toys truly indestructible?
A quick look at the reviews for these toys can be quite revealing. Most of them, for example, earn praise for being much more durable than an ordinary toy.
There is no dog toy that is truly indestructible (my opinion)
So far, none of the toys that I’ve looked at have been truly indestructible. This is based on my reading of the reviews by pet owner reviews who have bought such products. If you do decide to buy a supposedly indestructible toy, here’s my advice
- Supervise your dog as they chew this toy; or
- Check on the state of this toy on a regular basis. Look for cracks or signs that they are about to break apart. And if you should find any signs of wear or tear, toss the toy out and get a new one.
Should You Let A Dog Destroy His Toys?
It can be frustrating to own a dog that loves to destroy its toys.
You may even begin to wonder should you let your dog destroy toys once in a while since it can be a pain to constantly put them away each evening.
Don’t let this happen.
A dog that chews up and then swallows pieces of his toys could end up at the veterinarian hospital with an intestinal blockage. So, the answer to the question should you let a dog destroy his toys? – is a definite no.
Make Toys The Best Experience Possible
Toys are such a necessary part of a dog’s life. How can you ensure your dog’s toy time is the best experience possible? It’s a combination of the right toy, at the right price, at the right time. And that’s why we have such an extensive library of articles on dog toys:
- What’s the best way to clean toys with squeakers?
- Are rope toys dangerous for dogs to play with?
- Playing outdoors: what are the best toys for dogs to enjoy?
- My dog doesn’t enjoy playing with toys. How do I entertain him?
- Just like children, dogs have favorite toys too. Why is that?
- Home alone: what are the best toys when dogs are playing solo?
- Toys in crates: are they a good idea and what toys would we recommend?
- Has your dog lost interest in toys? Get them back on track with these suggestions.