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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”?

 

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Karen B. London, PhD, is a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist and Certified Professional Dog Trainer whose clinical work over the last 17 years has focused on the evaluation and treatment of serious behavioral problems in dogs, especially aggression. Karen has been writing the behavior column for The Bark since 2012 and wrote The Bark’s training column and various other articles for eight years before that. She is an adjunct professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at Northern Arizona University, and teaches a tropical field biology course in Costa Rica. Karen writes an animal column, The London Zoo, which appear in The Arizona Daily Sun and is the author of five books on canine training and behavior. She is working on her next book, which she expects to be published in 2017.

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