A lot of us can find ourselves feeling frustration and confusion when our dogs destroy the new playthings we have just got them. So why do dogs destroy their toys? Owners wonder if this is a sign of being ungrateful, aggressive, normal behavior, or due to a poor toy.
Knowing all the potential reasons for this behavior means you can figure out the exact reasons your dog is doing so. So let’s explore dogs destroying toys and the cause.
Reasons Why Dogs Destroy Their Toys
There is not just one reason for dogs destroying their toys. So let’s go through the possible causes and provide you with more information about each.
Chewing is a behavior that often occurs when a dog is bored. They use it as an outlet for frustration or excess energy. Therefore, if they are chewing or shaking their toys heavily and for long periods of time, it makes sense that they will eventually become destroyed. When a dog is not using all of their energy they then find alternative ways to expel that. Chewing, digging, vocalizations are some of these methods. Frustrated chewing may be more obvious due to how long and often your dog is involved in this behavior. It will eventually lead to many broken toys.
It’s the Wrong Toy for the Job
It may be that your dog loves to chew but has been given a toy not suitable for this. A common mistake is to give your dog a toy to fetch and allow them to chew it. An example of this is a tennis ball. This is an easy to destroy toy for chewing, but very effective as a toy for fetch. However, if your dog chews a tennis ball it can quickly strip off the fabric and then break the internal rubber. Another example of this is giving your dog a soft toy. Although they are often adorable and come with fun squeakers, they can be torn apart very easily. Gentle material and stitching and be torn apart by strong teeth and jaws in moments.
High Prey Drive
Each dog and dog breed are different, some will have higher prey drives than others. Those with higher prey drives are often more interested in chasing, catching, and chewing behavior due to instincts. Knowing what is expected of your dog’s breed due to their history can help you to predict their behavior. Both generally and in regards to play. Those that are more than likely to exhibit high levels of chewing, maybe more destructive with their toys. Therefore, if you find this to be true with your dog, it is worth considering a toy that can endure heavy chewing.
It may be that your dog has learned to chew their toys after copying their mother or another dog in the household. If that dog is a heavy chewer or a dog that immediately attempts to destroy toys, then your dog may follow. Some dogs immediately try to dismantle any toy given to them. Searching for the weak spots to chew and pull at. If a puppy witnesses these behaviors in every toy given to perhaps their sibling, they may begin to do the same thing. This is because dogs can learn through observation and mimicking behavior.
They Find it Fun
Dogs thoroughly enjoy chewing and play. It may be that your dog particularly likes to chew and therefore does it more than many other dogs. Due to the longer amount of time your dog spends chewing or a larger amount of force being applied to the toy, it is likely to break more quickly. Extra excitement may be shown before your dog is given a toy they are allowed and can chew thoroughly. They may also ignore other toys or not be as interested in other forms of play. Although some dogs can love chewing just as much as other activities. Therefore they put themselves into it wholely while they do so.
Lack of Supervision From the Handlers
Some dogs may chew regularly and of a normal amount but are left to do so without supervision. This means those with stronger jaws or high intelligence are more likely to destroy the toy. Especially if they are not being watched. For example, your dog can have a lot of fun chasing and pushing a tennis ball around, but not chewing. If you leave your dog with it for a while they may then begin to chew it and thereby destroy it. This can be the same for stuffed toys where many pups enjoy pulling the stuffing out of the inside when left to suck and gnaw at the toy’s fabric.
Dog is a Heavy Chewer
Whether it be because of strength, their breed, or genetics, some dogs are simply heavy chewers. Their strong jaws allow them to clamp down and quickly wear away the strong material of chewy toys. They can break apart more fragile toys with just one crunch! Larger jaws are stronger and dogs that are bred for a strong bite force can damage stitching or any delicate parts of the toys. Furthermore, some breeds have been bred for strength in the jaw alongside quick reactions and large mouths for grips of prey. This is applied to the chewing of toys as well.
Here are some ways to prevent your dog from regularly breaking their toys.
Don’t Let Your Dog Play With Toys Without Human Supervision
Leaving your dog to chew toys without supervising them posts more than just the risk of toys breaking. There are also some serious health risks with doing so. Broken parts of toys, stuffing, and even small balls can be choking hazards in a lot of dogs. Being present to prevent toys from being broken can help to stop this concern. If your dog begins to pull or chew apart a toy then you can take it away from them and dispose of it if necessary. It depends on if they are chewing it as such because they have gotten excited or because it is already breaking.
Prevent 24 Hour Toy Access
If you remove toys at night or for a certain time period, then the toys are less likely to be destroyed as quickly. This is because your dog is spending less time a day chewing or playing with the toy, leading to it breaking. You can choose to alternate toys for different times or remove them at certain times of the day. For example, if your dog wants to play but you have decided that this time they are not chewing anymore toys, try an energetic training period. Agility, running, or tricks can all be training sessions that benefit your dog and can be enjoyable for you both.
Exercise Your Dog
A dog with too much energy will put that into possible negative behavior. Destructive toy chewing is one of those categories. Therefore, if you are able to put more time into wearing out that energy, they should spend less time if any being destructive. Longer walks are a good way to release excess dog energy. However, be sure to take in mind your dog and their limits, such as walking difficulties in dogs with old injuries. If they need extra playtime for extra energy release then you can play with your dog in tug of war or training sessions for mental stimulation. Another exercise to consider is dog agility, different exercises exist for different skill and ability levels
Keep Your Dog Mentally Engaged
To minimize boredom and frustration you can keep your dog mentally stimulated. Puzzle-based enrichment and training can be wonderful ways of keeping your dog’s mind busy and taking away the energy into chewing and destruction. Even something as simple as putting food in a cardboard box can allow your dog to try to figure out how to get in. It also involves fun behavior such as chewing and digging.
Buy The Appropriate Toys
Heavy-duty chew toys will result in less damage as they are designed for a lot of chewing. Regardless of whether your dog chews a lot or has a very strong bite force, these toys are better suited for your dog so are less likely to be broken.
Dogs Destroying Toys: FAQ
We have a few more questions and answers about dog toy destruction so you are fully informed on the topic! Check it out.
When a puppy is teething they will be chewing a lot more due to the irritation and inflammation at the time. Although this goes as their adult teeth come through, they may chew for any of the reasons we have previously mentioned, so they may not grow out of this habit. It is dependent on their breed, the individual, their exercise levels and requirements, and many other factors.
It is not about correcting this behavior, but rerouting the frustration or figuring out the cause. This can be a sign of boredom, exercise levels that are not being met, or enjoyment. Therefore, this energy needs to be redirected or the general issue needs to be solved. Correcting the behavior will not solve the underlying problem. And if they are simply enjoying it, make sure their toys can withstand heavy chewy. Don’t prevent something they love!
It can be an issue if you provide your dog with soft toys or those that can easily be chewed. Remember that as they grow, they become more strong and can be more destructive. Figure out the cause and adapt as soon as you can to minimize the issue as they grow.
If your dog is only destructive towards their toys then you will not. Training your dog away from being destructive does not help you to identify the underlying issue and help your dog to feel better. A behaviorist can help if the problem is severe or if their destructive tendencies target more than their toys.
In order to stop this behavior, you need to identify the exact cause. If your dog has become destructive due to mental frustration then you need to provide more enrichment or puzzles for them to distract them from their wants to chew so heavily. However, if they are a heavy chewer, you may need to buy stronger toys to prevent them from being destroyed.
If your dog is destroying toys then there is a reason behind it. Do not punish the behavior but understand what emotions and instincts are motivating it. Understanding the cause allows you to know which preventative measure you can take to minimize the destruction as well as make your dog feel happier.