How To Teach Dogs Not To Destroy Toys (SAFETY ALERT)

Dogs are our best furry companions, but they can also be a bit of a challenge when it comes to training them not to chew on furniture, clothes, or toys.

We’ll discuss the reasons dogs tear up toys (and other things), the risks of letting them ruin toys, and how to teach dogs not to destroy toys.

Is It Ok for a Dog to Ruin His Toys?

While toy destruction is a natural habit for dogs, it can also indicate boredom, impatience, or separation anxiety, and is never a safe activity for any dog.

Once the toy is destroyed, little parts or stuffing may pose a choking danger if your dog pulls apart the toy and gets squeakers, bells, or wads of stuffing and material in his mouth.

It is wise for every dog owner to learn to do the Heimlich Maneuver on dogs because dogs can choke on a wide variety of things as they explore the world with their mouths.

If your dog swallows pieces of destroyed toys they can become lodged in the intestinal tract causing a blockage that must be surgically removed to save his life.

Is It Normal for Dogs to Destroy Toys?

dogs playing tug with a toy
Did you know that torn toys can be a serious hazard for playful dogs?

It is normal for dogs to destroy cheap toys and plush toys while they play. Their teeth are sharp and jaws are powerful.

If your dog is teething and cheap toys are all he has to chew on, he will destroy them to comfort his gums.

If your dog plays with plush toys, rope toys, and soft plastic toys under supervision then you can remove them as they become destroyed and throw them away to avoid ingestion or choking.

We never leave our dogs alone with plush toys because the risk is simply too high. We leave our dogs with the most indestructible toys we can find and check them frequently for signs of damage.

My Dog Started Destroying Things – Should I Be Worried?

If destroying toys, bedding, and your possessions is a new habit for your dog, it’s worth investigating whether he’s anxious, bored, or frustrated. Consultation with a dog behaviorist may be beneficial.

Dogs often suffer from separation anxiety when owners spend hours at work every day. This results in excessive barking, possessive behavior, soiling inside the home, and chewing/destructive behaviors.

If you suspect this is the case, try spending extra special time with your dog when you’re home, and consider leaving your dog with fun puzzle toys and treat-stuffed toys to keep his attention while you’re away.

Best Ways To Teach Dogs Not To Destroy Their Toys

  • One of the best ways to teach your dog not to destroy their toys is to provide them with plenty of chew toys that are specifically designed for heavy chewers.
  • Choosing a durable chew toy that can withstand a good amount of chewing is important.
  • You should also avoid giving your dog old socks (unless you create recognizable toys out of them) or other household items as chew toys because they may mistake them for something they are supposed to destroy. This includes playing with puppies – don’t train them to play with household items.
  • The next tip for teaching your dog not to destroy their toys is to make sure that you praise them when they play nicely with their toys.
  • If they start to chew on something they are not supposed to, you should quickly redirect their attention to a different activity or toy. Your dog will learn what is acceptable to chew on and what is not with time and patience.
  • Finally, you can provide your dog with a chew treat that he’ll happily spend the day destroying while leaving your things alone.

Toy destruction is inevitable for most dogs because they have a desperate need to chew and anything soft satisfies this urge.

The best way to counteract this is to give them only toys and treats that they can safely chew while simultaneously training them to leave other household items and bedding alone.

What Leads Your Dogs to Damage Toys?

What leads Your Dogs To Damage The Toys
Destroying toys can be a completely natural behavior for dogs but can also be a sign of boredom, frustration, and even separation anxiety.

Puppies naturally play violently with toys because it is instinctual. However, humans often unknowingly encourage and train their dogs to play destructively with toys and other objects.

Here are a few reasons why dogs destroy toys.

  • Feeling Bored: When your rambunctious pup is bored, he may furiously gnaw on and break apart his toy. This action is exciting and the resulting mess is fascinating to your dog.
  • Improper Encouragement: When a little dog destroys a toy, some find it endearing and respond with loving affirmations. It develops into the dog’s habit. Don’t encourage a puppy to tear up toys because they’ll tear up toys when they’re big.
  • Providing Toys Not for Dogs: Many dog owners buy cheap plushes, tennis balls, and rope toys for their dogs that are not intended for them. Dogs easily tear up these toys, but it really isn’t their fault.
  • The instinct to Chew: As adorable and loving as your dog may be, chewing is an instinct that every dog has. When teething this instinct is irresistible. The best thing is to provide toys and chews that safely relieve teeth and gums.
  • Amusement: Dogs love toys with squeakers. This also stimulates hunting instincts and can drive dogs into a frenzy of enjoyment. Just watch for signs of tearing on the toy because dogs will ingest squeakers if they can get them out.

How Can I Protect My Dog from Choking on Toys?

Toys And Pet's Protection
It is never a good idea to let your dog destroy his toys. If your dog consumes any part of a toy it can result in severe illness and even death.

Toy destruction is a pricey habit, but it also poses a severe safety concern for your pet.

If consumed, toy parts such as stuffing, cloth, squeakers, string, and plastic might become lodged in the digestive tract, producing a potentially fatal blockage (obstruction).

Avoid toys with little components that might easily be bitten off or ingested, and discard those who have developed cracks or been ripped apart. Never buy toys and plushes that are not designed for dogs.

Toys can pose a choking threat, so it’s critical to select the appropriate size for a dog and monitor them constantly when playing.

For example, if you give a miniature ball to a large breed dog who can fit one in his mouth, it may become lodged at the back of the neck or the trachea and close off his airway.

If you believe your dog has swallowed all or part of a toy, it’s critical to seek veterinary care immediately.

Vomiting, lack of appetite, fatigue, stomach discomfort, and struggling to pass excrement are all symptoms of obstruction.

Bottom Line

While toy destruction is a normal habit, it can be dangerous and is not a habit we encourage with our dogs.

The best way to keep your dog safe with toys is to make sure they’re the right size for your breed, made from indestructible materials, supervise playtime, and inspect toys regularly for wear and tear.

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Jesse Hopping, CCDT

Jesse is a natural-born dog-lover certified dog trainer (CCDT), dog foster, and former volunteer at Richmond SPCA and surrounding dog shelters for over 10 years. Her pack includes a Bernedoodle and 3 Boston Terriers. She’s sipping caramel coffee and watching her pack play in the sun when she’s not writing blogs. Jesse has her Certified Dog Trainer designation from CATCH Canine Trainers Academy since 2018 and and majored in English from the University of Virginia.

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