It’s the Wrong Toy for the Job
Sometimes we give our dogs toys as a way to assuage our guilt over not being able to give them the time and attention they deserve—the toy functions as a sort of babysitter when we can’t be with them. While that’s a fine concept in theory (there are many fantastic toys that can handle the demands) you need to make sure that you’re giving your dog the right kind of babysitter toy.
A plush toy or thin latex toy can’t stand up to a determined (and bored) dog, and won’t provide the kind of constructive activity your dog needs when you’re not around. Hard rubber, treat-dispensing toys—the kind that typically come with a durability guarantee—are a better fit for unsupervised playtime, and can withstand the punishment your dog doles out.
Why does my dog destroy every toy?
Chewing is a natural and important behaviour for dogs. Puppies, and even adult dogs, explore their environment with their mouths. Chewing provides mental stimulation through play, exercises the jaw muscles, and can help to keep teeth clean. Toys can also provide a great bonding tool for you and your pet.
Some dogs will play ‘nicely’ with toys, while others prefer to destroy them! Let’s look at some reasons that dogs might chew and destroy their toys:
Dogs naturally enjoy chewing on things, which may be nature’s way of helping to ensure their teeth and gums stay healthy.
Most dogs love to play! Ripping a toy to pieces, or finding a way to pull out the stuffing, can provide mental stimulation.
Puppies often chew on (and destroy!) things when they are teething, as it soothes their gums.
Dogs who are bored or who struggle with being left alone may turn to destructive chewing as an outlet for their emotions.
Some breeds in particular have a very strong innate prey drive, so catching and destroying their prey is an inbuilt behaviour. This tends to be true for dogs who like to chase wildlife.
Some dogs may have learnt that destroying things gains them attention. Remember, even negative attention is a form of attention, so from their perspective, it’s better than none at all!
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.
Why Dogs Destroy Toys (And Why It’s A Good Thing)
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:
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.