Karen B. London
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Toys Are Meant To Be Used
Damage means that they have been
These toys have served their purpose.

Dogs like to chew on many of their toys. It is common for people to say, “He ruins all his toys!” I like to think of it a little bit differently: When toys are damaged, it’s just a sign that the dog has used them. Toys don’t stay in pristine condition if they have truly been enjoyed, but that just means the toys have been used, not that they have been ruined.

Of course, if the dog is at risk of being hurt on a rough edge of a broken toy, or by ingesting part it, that’s a different story, and I’ll always intervene to prevent that. I’m not advocating being reckless about dogs and their toys, and I well understand how expensive it can be to supply toys to a dog who is hard on them. I’m simply pointing out that when dogs chew on toys or toss them around, they are using them for entertainment purposes, which is what toys are for. I’m interested in protecting dogs from toys, but I see no need to protect toys from dogs.
I used to have dogs come to my office all the time and start chewing on the toys I had there for the dogs. Invariably, guardians would say, “Oh no! He’s going to chew that up.” I always asked if the dog was likely to swallow the pieces, and if the answer was no, then I assured my clients that it was fine with me for the toy to be shredded, ripped, chewed, torn etc. I would tell them, “We go through dog toys like most office go through paper clips.”
How many toys can your go through in a month or so, and how much money are you spending on your dog’s “hobby”?



Karen B. London, PhD, is a Bark columnist and a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist specializing in the evaluation and treatment of serious behavior problems in the domestic dog.

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Submitted by Lisa Wogan | December 27 2010 |

Karen, My dog is a stuffed animal destroying machine. He loves it and never swallows the parts. He's happier to leave trails of stuffing and fabric around the house. The eeriest part of his habit though is how he approaches the practice like a mob hit—he removes the face and the claws/paws of his stuffed victim. It's as if he wants to destroy all identifiable parts. Then the shell of the torso kicks around unmolested until I can sneak it into the garbage. Lisa

Submitted by Pamela | December 28 2010 |

Amen! This is a great post. I know people who've stopped buying toys for their dogs because they are destroyed.

I've tried to save money by using household items as toys. I knot old towels for tugging, seal treats into cereal boxes for shreddable hide and seek, and added "handles" to old marrow bones.

Because my Golden isn't as voracious as some dogs, I probably don't spend more than $200 a year on toys. But after paying over $3000 for surgery after she swallowed a squeaker from a cheap toy someone gave her, $200 for high quality toys (and a few minutes making safe, home made toys) is a small price to pay.

Submitted by Laurie | December 28 2010 |

One of my Aussies has had the same stuffed animals for four years. We add to the collection regularly and add one now and then but he carries them around and though he tosses them around he is gentle with them. My oth Aussie had to be taught not to go near the stuffs because he eats them. Only recently have I been able to engage him with toys in a way that does not worry me for his health.

Submitted by Denise | January 3 2011 |

My two pitbulls are dog destroying PROFESSIONALS!!!! I was spending hundreds each month on toys (from Petsmart & Petco), and I tried every "indestructible" dog toy ever made, and none of them ever held up for more than 30 minutes!

I eventually found out about PetEdge.com & started buying the bulk 80 toy display, and those 80 toys lasted them about 3 months...but the house ALWAYS looked like winter wonderland with stuffing & toy body parts all over the place!

I still buy bulk toys from PetEdge, but I get the canvas Kong Wubba toys so they can play tug of war, squeak the thing, and fetch it, AND I trained them to not destroy toys, but just to squeak it, or do what they do to play..but just not rip the thing to shreds...and the training worked the best. Now their toys last for about a month, and I give them each 3 at a time with huge Nylabone bones to chew on (so they don't chew the toys up!)...I think I've found the perfect combination of toys, training & satisfying their urge to chew as well!

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