Selecting Tough Toys
“Why can’t they make a dog toy that my dog cannot destroy?” The fact is that your dog’s jaws are made to rip flesh and crush bones…the materials that can stand up to that kind of pressure are not much fun for dogs. Fabric, plush, rubber, and vinyl are not deterrents to a dog’ ripping and chewing instinct. If your dog just has to know what is inside of its toys, there is no way you are going to stop them. However, I do have some suggestions on how to select toys that might last longer.
First, save all of the tags for the dog toys that you purchase. Throw away the tags for toys that do not last and keep the ones that do. Some textures, fabrics, sounds, sizes, or manufactures might last longer for your dog. Once you find these clues, you usually can find other toys that they love to play with and will last. Also, really observe how your dog plays with its toys. What is driving your dog to tear its toy apart — the toy’s sound, texture, or the just the challenge of ripping its toy apart?
If your dog is a Sound Driven toy destroyer, discover what sounds drive them. Once you discover the sound that drives your dog crazy you can avoid toys with that sound. Some dogs are squeaker driven dogs, especially Terriers. They are squeaker driven because a squeaker sounds just like an injured rodent — especially rabbits. Squeaker driven dogs are easy because there are so many other sounds makers for dog toys — such as grunters, cawers, rattle, crinkle, giggle stick, or voice-chip talking toys.
If your dog is a Chew Driven toy destroyer — they will chew and chew until they get their toy apart. For these dogs, I recommend that you find toys that do not have hard edges. In addition, toys that have small pieces attached are just too enticing. I would look for toys that are just two pieces of fabric (a top and a bottom) or for plush balls. It is hard to find a place to grab and hold on to chew with a ball. You might also want to try different textures with these dedicated chewers. They may love to chew short plush, but will play with a long plush toy — sometimes Berber, fake lamb’s wool, dog toys hold up better for these dogs. If your Chew Driven dog is food motivated try treat dispensers. Some of these dispensers can deliver some or all of your dog’s kibble, for mealtime exercise and entertainment. Treat dispenser come all sizes and challenge levels. Treat Dispensing toys are designed to keep dog busy for a long period. An occupied dog is less likely to think about destroying the toy.
Rippers differ from Chew Driven Dogs because they just love to rip. In addition to the suggestions for Chew Driven Dogs, look for dog toys that are meant to be taken apart. Plush Dog Puzzle Toys, such as Hide-a-Toys, IQubes, Pull-a-Parts, Egg Babies, and Intellibones have removable pieces. Then you re-assemble them for your dog to rip them apart again. The Hide-a-Toys, such as the Hide-a-Squirrel, Hide-a Bee, and the Hide-a-Bird, have replacement parts available so that you do not have to purchase a completely new toy. These toys are also provide mental stimulation for your problem solving dog.
Stuffing-aholic dogs a can make your toy hunt difficult. Some manufactures, like Go Dog and Dr. Noy’s Toys make dog toys that have no or little stuffing — they are a quick answer for some dogs. Some of our Stuffing-aholic friends do not de-stuff toys stuffed with cotton, like Simply Fido and Woof Weartoys. Betsy and Norman have never tried to take the stuffing out of their cotton toys. Are you handy with a needle and thread? You can de-stuff a toy before you give it to your dog — that way you will not have to pick up all of the fluff. Please never let your dog eat a toy’s stuffing!
Tug Driven toy destroyers make every toy, no matter what the size, into a tug toy. Toys, especially designed for tugging, like bungee toys worked well for these dogs. We carry bungee toys that have nylon-reinforced sides — the nylon keeps your dog from tugging the toy so far that the seams pop. West Paw Design also makes a Stretch Snake toy that seams sewn on the bias so that the seams naturally stretch — this snake comes in three sizes. Betsy and Norman played with their West Paw snake for years before the head finally came off — the seam has never popped. Rope Toys are also a great tough toys for tuggers — we have ropes in all sizes, up to 1.5 inches in diameter.
It is possible that you will not find a toy that you can safely let you dog play with on their own. For these dogs, we recommend that you work with your veterinarian and find edible chew treats that you can give them to keep them from being bored. You can also introduce toy interactive toys where you control the game and how the dog is using the toy. Interactive toys are great because when your dog starts to be destructive you can just remove it and stop playing. I love playing Ball on a Stick with Betsy. This simple toy is a stick with a ball on a rope. The rope slides through the stick for an extra challenge. I just stand in the middle and swing the ball around until she catches it. Betsy has a release command; however, we need to work on having the release last more than a split second. I just wait until she is finished showing off that she caught the ball and then I start swinging it again. This toy/game wears her out. If she ever decides to try to destroy the ball, I will simply remove the toy and get another toy or stop playing.
Another great game to teach a Dog-Toy-Destroying dog is fetch. What your dog will not give up the toy? I have a solution. Just throw another toy and pick up the first one as they drop it while they are running after the second. In this version of fetch, you get your exercise too! You can use balls, plush toys, rubber toys, or better yet a variety of toys so that your dog is busy running around and picking them up. The idea is to get your dog moving and its mind busy. When you are looking for the right toy for your dog, I recommend that you read reviews that others have written about toys. Check out breed websites and see what other parents are buying for their dogs. Of course, you can always ask me what I would recommend — just let me know what toys have worked for your dog in the past and we will make suggestions.
PLAY SAFE! Never let your dog consume (eat, swallow) any part of a toy! However, if your dog does not eat its toys let them play with the unstuffed carcass. Many of these shells of former toys are Betsy and Norman’s favorites. If your dog consumes toys — take them away and do not give them toys; instead as your veterinarian, what they suggest you offer them instead.
Remember dog toys are an important part of a dog’s environment. They urge them to get off the couch and be active. They enrich your dog’s world and are great for developing a bond between your dog and you.
…and make sure you see our selection of toys that we think are tough!