There are a few reasons why your dog destroys toys – it could be boredom, the natural prey drive within them, or even taught behaviour. The main thing to remember is that this is often normal in all dogs – and is not necessarily a sign of aggression or malicious destruction!
To best protect your home and all of your bits and pieces from being torn apart seam by seam, patience is key. The same goes for any excessive chewing and to avoid creating a bad habit in your pet long-term.
You need to help your four-legged friend by helping them find new ways to let off excess steam. In some cases, they might just be looking for one or two things to get their puppy teeth into to cope with teething.
Keep reading, as we’re going to dig deep into these reasons for toy damage – as well as others – that might make sense to you and your chewable home!
7 Reasons Your Dog Destroys Toys
It Comes Naturally
Whether your dog is a natural hunting dog or not, they are animals, and they do have their own instincts. But, depending on the toy they are presented with, some will just dig deep into the natural instincts from their ancestors, and chewing behaviour is the result.
It’s a well-known fact that a bored dog can get destructive. We have all seen and possibly even experienced coming home to a house covered in pillow fluff, chewed-up furniture, and toilet paper scratchings all over the floor.
If your dog has a dedicated toy that they know to chew on (a good Kong, for example), then they could take out their pent-up feelings on the toy instead. Better a toy than your sofa.
You could also invest in puzzle toys to give them a bit more of a challenge too. There are some excellent interactive toys for dogs out there that help prevent boredom!
Your Pup Suffers from Separation Anxiety
Many dogs struggle with separation anxiety, and they can get quite destructive with it. For example, when a puppy or an older dog is left for an extended period of time, they can begin to feel anxious and need to chew on something to keep busy.
It’s a Prey Drive Thing
Yes, even your fluffy little Bichon wants to hunt down prey! One popular chewable goodie that most canines tend to destroy is the squeaky toy or squeaker toy. Squeaker toys make a very high-pitched sound resembling that of a small animal.
Once your dog hears it, the hunter in them will awaken and will react to it. This isn’t necessarily to say that your dog would attack any small creature, but the sound from that toy will likely set them off. With any luck, your pet will prefer a bowl full of dog food to hunting down anything living!
You have a High Energy Dog.
Bored dogs can get particularly destructive when full of pent up energy. So for dogs that need a lot of exercise and stimulation, it is very important to give them such an experience daily, or they can resort to tearing about – literally.
Out of boredom, they can very easily destroy their toys, and many resort to tearing the house apart, too! If you have a high-energy dog, it is important to take the time to give them the exercise and mental attention that they need.
We Think it’s Funny & Encourage the Behaviour.
Your dog could be destroying their toys due to human influence, maybe from previous owners. Unfortunately, more than a few people encourage their dogs to destroy their toys by playing tug of war with them and praising them as they destroy them.
Therefore, the dog will think that by destroying their toys, they will be pleasing their owners. All dogs learn very quickly – but regardless, all dogs need patience and respect along the way.
We Pick the Wrong Toys.
If you have a dog who keeps destroying its toys, then the chances are that you are getting the wrong toys for them. On the other hand, if your dog is particularly strong, they will – shock, horror – need a strong toy.
They may be making their way through their toys not out of aggression or instinct but because the toys are simply too weak for their jaw strength. The toys will therefore not last for long and will quickly bore your dog.
Stuffed Toys, Balls, or Rubber Bones? How to Choose the Best Toys for your Dog
When buying toys for our pooches, there are so many to choose from, so let’s go through the top three: stuffed toys, balls, and rubber bones.
Stuffed dog toys make great companions for your pooch; however, you don’t want a stuffed animal with protruding eyes, buttons, sequins, zips, or other hazardous bits and pieces – as these can be easily pulled out, ready for your dog to potentially swallow.
Balls are great for most dogs but are only really useful when you can play with them out in the open and a ball is not really for gnawing on.
Finally, rubber bones can also be great companions for your pup; however, be sure to get a strong one and beware of the materials from which it is made.
Dangers of Dogs Destroying Toys
If your dog destroys small things like toys regularly, it could be dangerous behavior long term.
Even the most seemingly harmless of toys could be covered in bits and pieces that could get stuck in your dog’s throat when chewing, like a button or a plastic eye, etc.
If you are not there when your dog gets caught out like this, then you can only imagine what could happen to them. The same goes if they destroy toys made from non-friendly materials.
Your pooch destroying things like squeaker toys could also render them a bit more aggressive towards smaller creatures – like cats or smaller pups – that also make high-pitched noises. Dogs can hear a noise and have an instinctive reaction; this behavior is especially common in terriers.
Train Fido to Play Nicely
Your pet can play very happily without destroying things. Taking the time to train them to play nicely will end up saving you quite a lot of money, could potentially save their lives, not to mention save some of your preferred household items in the future, too!
It’s also well worth training your pet to avoid destroying toys if they live with smaller animals. You can pretty much put two and two together here – and we’ve covered the potential scenarios above.
Thankfully, training your pup how to play nicely with their toys doesn’t have to be a difficult job. Keep reading for the full lowdown on the problem.
10 Tips to Stop your Dog from Destroying Toys
If your dog is mid-destruction, try clapping your hands and getting their attention to distract from what they are doing.
Teach Them to Leave
A crucial lesson for your pet to learn is to drop whatever they are holding, especially their toys.
Reward Their Yielding behavior
If they obey you and let go, praise them with a treat, a cuddle and let them know they are being good.
Let Them Discover the Toy.
Hold the toy to their faces to let them smell, taste, and discover it in your hands; they will take note of your gentleness with it.
Do not Encourage Destruction.
Do not start by shoving toys in their faces and trying to get them to pull on them. They will think you want them to destroy it.
Take the Toy Away From Them.
Dogs don’t know how to share, so you need to teach them that taking away their toy results in a reward; teach your dog to let you take the toy from a young age.
Don’t Leave the Dog Alone with a Toy Initially.
Supervise them with the toy for the first few times so that you can monitor their behaviour.
Introduce Other Toys
Buy Strong Toys
A strong pooch does not always mean breaking their toys, but the wrong toy will not last, which is not their fault.
If you want to know more about how to stop your dog from chewing everything, there’s some great advice available from the Humane Society site.
Why do dogs tear the stuffing from toys?
Your pet will shake soft toys in their mouths before ripping them apart, as that is commonly how they kill in the wild. They will then resort to tearing it apart, as they would their prey. Find out more about the different reasons for destructive dog chewing, too.
Is it OK for dogs to destroy their toys?
A pup destroying their toys can lead them to destroying other things like household items and to reacting badly to other small creatures. Therefore, it is important to train your pooch properly with their toys.
What are the best toys for destructive dogs?
It is best to provide your dog with a strong toy that will keep them occupied for a long time and to take the time to train them away from wanton chaos.
The Last Word
Your dog’s toys will become very important to them over time and it will be unlikely he shares them. Many pups are known for taking their toys to bed with them and even crying when they are gone.
Teaching your dog how to play correctly is an essential part of their training, a thing that we often forget, as we tend to think that a dog should be free to play as they feel. However, this sadly can lead to some naughty behaviour that could be potentially dangerous.
Be sure to buy the right kind of dog toy for your puppy – some toys for strong dogs, such as tough rubber bones and tugger rope toys, are also well worth investing in. Some dogs just want something new to do – for others, the problems might even be innate.
Help for Dogs Who Destroy Toys
If your dog is making a meal out of rubber toys, soft creatures and more, it’s time to get into a bit of training – good exercise and mental stimulation are key to reducing your pet tearing into something with their paws. So why not look at a few of the more popular products on Amazon? While you’re at it, dive into our other guides on raising puppies the right way across our website.