My dog destroys all her toys – where on earth do I find the indestructible dog toy?
Like already said: I believe there’s no such thing as the “indestructible” toy. If you have an aggressive chewer, sooner or later every material will give in. And “sooner or later” with aggressive chewers left alone with a toy and the toys available on the market usually means a time span between minutes or hours, if lucky days. But that’s it.
Now consider this: If there were such a thing as the “indestructible” toy, this would probably even pose a risk of injury, because eventually during the chewing process one or the other WILL give in – either the toy or something else, such as the dog’s teeth.
There are antlers and bones, for example, which are able to keep a lot of aggressive chewers pretty busy for a long while and can be considered to be something in between a toy and a chew treat.
I personally have my reservations with these things, because they indeed ARE very durable and hard to destroy for most dogs. But they are also too hard sometimes, I am afraid, and I fear that my dog’s teeth or stomach (from splintering pieces) could eventually be the part giving in, resulting in painful and costly vet visits or even worse.
Honestly, I rather train my dog and supervise than have her undergo emergency surgery to fix damages from toys she was not able to conquer.
Of course, it would be equally dangerous to let her play unsupervised with something she can easily destroy and ingest – anything from an upset stomach to, again, emergency surgery could be the result.
That is why in my opinion in terms of dogs who LIKE toys and play a lot, supervision combined with interaction (humans playing with the dog) and at the same time training the dog HOW to play correctly is key to keep the dog healthy and keep the playtimes safe, plus at the same time save tons of money on toys and vet visits.
The toys will still be ready to be thrown away at some point. But in our household – following this principle – toys are lasting between at least 3 months up to years.
Mila owns toys she has access to all day – all soft toys, one or two among them pretty fragile.
Occasionally I take one or the other of those away to repair minor tears that just happen. At the same time taking a toy away and introducing it again later makes the toy interesting again to the dog. Thanks to habituation once the toy has survived the “new toy phase” the urge to dismember and chew it ceases rapidly. Often to the point where the toy is no longer interesting at all, unless I engage in play with it or take it away for a while and then present it as a “new toy” again.
Then there are toys Mila only gets to play with outside – balls. She would wreck the house if I allowed her to play with those inside the house.
On the other hand, the limited access to them keeps up her interest in them – keeps up their status as special toys. She is actually looking forward to playing with them every day.
But that also means that the incentive to destroy them is much higher – because of the higher levels of excitement when she uses them. I definitely have to either engage myself OR at least supervise her around balls.
The key to success: Supervision and training
Mila has not been a gentle player from the start – rather quite the opposite. As a puppy, her first approach was to dismember the toys.
With whatever she gets for play, she has been and still is practically under constant supervision. We have cameras in the house and I always keep my ears open when she is roaming around the house alone. So if I hear her play I pay attention and interfere as soon as I hear tearing noises etc. Today there’s not a lot of intervention necessary, because Mila has learned what I don’t want her to do with her toys.
Also with EVERY new toy she gets, I actively teach and train her HOW to play correctly with it and stay involved closely until the “new toy phase” starts to cease a little.
That means I am present all the time while she plays and as soon as excessive gnawing or tearing starts, I interfere and show her that I don’t want this.
I also know that she loves to engage humans in play and provide her with that opportunity at least one or two times a day in addition to her own playtime outside, which I usually only supervise without engaging a lot.
That prevents her from getting bored with her toys and “taking a look inside just out of curiosity”.