Dogs make great companion animals but, just like humans, they sometimes have behavioral problems that need addressing. One of the most common complaints from dog owners is that their pet is chewing up objects around the house and destroying any toys that are given to it. This behavior annoys and frustrates the owner, and in some cases even prompts the owner to find the dog a new home!
If you can relate to these frustrations, don’t worry. Your dog’s bad habit is a problem that can be solved. In this article we’ll look at indestructible toys for dogs and other ways to help stop destructive chewing.
Why Dogs Chew the Wrong Things
Your dog doesn’t chew things to upset you. It’s in their nature to chew, especially if they’re not getting what they need to be happy. Here are some of the reasons why your pup may be chewing so much.
- Teething: If you have a puppy between the ages of 12 weeks and six months, this is likely the reason for chewing. Your dog’s adult teeth are beginning to come in, which is as painful for dogs as it is for humans. Chewing helps soothe this pain, so teething puppies will chew at every opportunity.
- Anxiety: Dogs form fierce bonds with their owners. Their loyalty and devotion can sometimes result in separation anxiety when they can’t be around their favorite people. This may be why your dog seems fine when you’re around but chews your belongings while you’re out of the house.
- Boredom: A bored dog is an unhappy dog. Spending hours without social interaction, exercise or mental stimulation can drive a dog to chew anything it can find, just to provide some relief from the monotony.
- Jaw exercise: This occurs most commonly in very young and old dogs. Young dogs need to build up their muscles, including those in their jaw. Older dogs who are experiencing muscle and joint degeneration may also begin chewing to strengthen their jaws.
- Learning: Puppies and recently-adopted dogs of any age are exploring a new world with many things they haven’t seen before. They can’t find out what new objects are without checking them out. This usually involves tasting and chewing them.
- Attention seeking: Dogs are extremely social animals. They love attention and doing things with their owners. A dog that thinks it’s being ignored will do whatever it can to get the attention of someone – including chewing up that person’s belongings.
- Obsession: Though rarer than the other causes, true obsessive chewing is possible. Dogs can develop Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) just like humans. This is a mental condition that may require medication to treat.
Dangers of Chewing the Wrong Things
Your dog will chew whatever he can get his mouth around. He doesn’t know that your shoes cost hundreds of dollars, or that the electrical cord he’s gnawing could kill him. Many items around the house could pose a hazard to your dog if chewed. Small objects could cause choking. Cleaning product bottles could be punctured and the contents ingested. Anything powered by batteries or electricity could be deadly if chewed up. Dog-proofing helps, but never underestimate the ingenuity of a dog who wants to chew. Because of this, destructive chewing is a problem that must be addressed promptly.
How to Stop Your Dog from Chewing the Wrong Things
Don’t give up on your destructive dog. There are many things you can do to change your pet’s behavior and make everyone in the house happy – including your dog.
- Provide chew toys: Dogs are less likely to chew your belongings if they have some of their own that are safe and fun to chew. Some dogs prefer softer toys such as rope while others prefer hard rubber. Flavored chew toys may provide extra incentive to choose toys over household objects. Provide your dog with a variety of toys and narrow down his favorites.
- Give positive reinforcement: The best way to encourage a dog to use his toys is to reward him when he does it. When you see your dog go for a toy instead of a shoe, reward him with lots of petting and a treat. He’ll associate the toy with love and food, which will make him more likely to opt for the toy in the future. Be consistent with your rewards for the best results.
- Supervise your dog: It’s not possible to watch your dog 24/7, but try to make a point of keeping an eye on him when he’s around new objects or in a new place. Watch him as he sniffs around to make sure he doesn’t decide to chew anything. Once he’s done checking it out, give him a reward if he’s behaved himself.
Why are Some Dogs Destructive?
All dogs chew, but some seem more destructive than others. This can be due to their size – small dogs have small teeth, so they may do less damage than a very large dog with teeth to match. Breeds that are known for strong bites will also destroy more things simply due to their power. A teething puppy that still has some of its razor-sharp baby teeth will also be prone to shredding anything it chews on. If none of these fit your dog, it could just be personality – a more rambunctious, energetic dog will cause more damage as it uses chewing as an outlet for pent-up energy.
How to Stop a Dog from Being Destructive
If you’ve purchased chew toys for your dog but found that he simply destroys them right away, there are several things you can try to help reduce his destructive tendencies.
- More exercise: An energetic dog who doesn’t get enough exercise will channel his excess energy into other things, such as chewing up his toys and other things around the house until they’re barely recognizable. More outdoor time will help tire him out to the point that he’d rather not expend any energy on chewing.
- Harder exercise: If your dog already gets plenty of walks but still seems to have extra energy, he may need more intense exercise. If he gets along with other dogs, try taking him to a dog park and letting him run around off-leash. If that’s not possible, a game of fetch in your yard will tire him out much more than a walk around the block. Swimming is also a good option, especially if you have an older dog or a breed that’s known for joint problems.
- Obedience training: Many owners have successfully trained their dogs to respond to commands to be gentle with a toy. If you see him pick up a toy and immediately get rough with it, he doesn’t get a reward. If he picks it up gently, give him a petting and a treat. Over time he’ll learn that gentler is better.
Why Unsafe Chew Toys Can Be Dangerous
Not all dog toys are created equal. Cheaply-made toys can present numerous hazards to your dog. It’s important to choose indestructible toys for dogs to prevent the following dangers.
- Choking hazard: If a toy is chewed into small pieces, some of the pieces can get stuck in your dog’s throat.
- Digestive problems: If a piece of a toy has a sharp edge, it can cause internal bleeding in your dog’s stomach and intestines if swallowed. It can also cause pain and blockages as it moves through the digestive system.
- Tooth damage: A toy that is too hard can break your dog’s tooth if bitten. Tooth breakage is very painful and can be expensive to treat.
- Allergies: Cheap toys are made with cheap materials, many of which can cause allergic reactions in dogs, especially if ingested.
The Top Five Indestructible Chew Toys
KONG Extreme Dog Toy
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KONG is known for its heavy-duty chew toys, and this is one of its most popular offerings. The Extreme Dog Toy is available in several sizes ranging from small to XXL so you can choose the one that’s right for your dog. The black rubber material is ultra-thick and designed to resist even the most powerful chewers.
It can be filled with treats, which can help immensely with separation anxiety and toy training. KONG estimates that a toy stuffed with wet and dry treats will take the dog approximately 20 minutes to empty. Freezing the toy with the treats inside lengthens this even more. This provides enrichment and helps alleviate anxiety and boredom.
The KONG Extreme Dog Toy is so durable it’s used by police and military K-9 training groups around the world. Users report it being very helpful with crate training and reducing destructive chewing, though you should monitor your dog during its first few times with the toy to make sure it’s a suitable choice. Prices range around $10-20 depending on the size, making it a good mid-range option.
Goughnuts Indestructible Chew Toy MAXX
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Ideal for very large and destructive dogs, the Goughnuts Indestructible Chew Toy MAXX comes in four different varieties. The MAXX Power Stick and MAXX Power Ring are starter toys that can withstand all but the most powerful chewers. The MAXX 50 Ring and MAXX 50 Stick are a step up in hardness and are designed for dogs who are too strong for the Power Stick and Power Ring.
All Goughnuts MAXX toys have color indicators to show when a toy has been damaged. If the indicator turns red, the toy should be taken from the dog and returned to Goughnuts, who will replace the toy for free
Unfortunately, unlike the KONG toys, these toys cannot hold treats.
The Goughnuts MAXX chew toys are definitely some of the strongest toys on the market. They are also some of the priciest, ranging from approximately $28 for the MAXX Power toys to approximately $33 for the MAXX 50 toys. However, the replacement guarantee and rock-solid construction make them a worthwhile investment for those who need the toughest chew toys.
Rocco & Roxie Supply Co. Indestructible Dog Toy Balls
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These tough-as-nails dog toy balls are made with only the highest quality materials. Free from BPAs, latex, heavy metals and phthalates, the toys are made with highly durable thermoplastic elastomer. The material is weather- and fade-resistant, making it ideal for outdoor use.
Customer reviews claim that their dogs love chasing and chewing on this tough bouncy ball. It comes in two sizes: 2.5″ diameter for smaller dogs and 4″ diameter for larger dogs. It’s great for playing fetch but dogs will also roll it and chase it on their own.
Rocco & Roxie Supply Co. offers a lifetime warranty on these chew toys. In the unlikely event that the toy does get damaged, the company will replace it. They are made in the U.S.A. and prices are approximately $10-15.
Himalayan Dog Chew
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This 10.5 ounce package contains three pieces of edible chewing material made from an ancient Himalayan recipe. Unlike the three previous toys on the list, these won’t last forever as they’re made to be consumed. However, the flavor component can help convince your dog to chew them instead of household objects.
Himalayan Dog Chews are grain-free, gluten-free and contain no preservatives. They are made from all-natural yak and cow milk. Dogs love the taste and won’t eat the whole thing right away. The chews must be softened for hours in the dog’s mouth before the layers begin to soften and become edible.
Though these chews are very tough, they should still be monitored for signs of breakage or splintering to avoid posing a hazard to your dog. One pack of three chews usually costs around $15. They must be repurchased occasionally depending on how fast your dog goes through them.
Nylabone Dura Chew Textured Toy
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The most economical option on the list, Nylabone Dura Chew Toys are available in many different flavors, including bacon, chicken, peanut butter and pepperoni pizza. The bone-shaped toys have ridges and nubs that help clean your dog’s teeth and gums as he chews.
The Dura Chew line is specially designed for the most powerful chewers. The toys do get whittled down over time but this process takes much longer than it does for most other flavored chews on the market. They do need to be removed from the dog when they get down to a certain size to prevent choking hazards.
With prices under $10, this is the clear choice for anyone on a budget who also wants the added benefit of plaque and tartar reduction for their dog.
Indestructible toys for dogs are an important part of training your dog to stop chewing things around the house. Without a satisfactory alternative, dogs will keep chewing whatever they can get their mouths on. Indestructible chew toys combined with things like positive reinforcement and more exercise can help solve the problem of destructive chewing. This means that both you and your dog will live much happier lives.