What do toys mean to dogs?
Often when dogs are left alone with toys they just don’t know what else to do with them other than satisfying their urge to chew or they are just curious to know what’s inside. That’s something natural to them. So they just do it, lacking any other ideas of how to play or interact with those toys.
And if we are honest, what else are they supposed to do with the toys? How many other possibilities are there? They can play dominance games and mount the toys, push and chase them.
But chasing is likely to ignite the prey instinct and again lead to chewing, tearing and biting.
That’s why I like to provide my dog with different kinds of play: trick training, mind games, toys I interact with (tug, throwing), toys she can have on her own under supervision and chew treats that are save for her teeth and keep her busy for a little while, such as frozen Kongs and Rawhide. A bit of everything.
It takes some planning, maybe different handling than you may have done it before and also some additional effort to be around and actually interfere once they get carried away. But the effort is absolutely worth it. Because over time with many dogs owners will no longer experience that “destroyed within 5 minutes” effect. On the one hand because the dog does not even get the chance to destroy something while you are around.
On the other hand with some training at some point your Bull Terrier just knows that there are several different things it can do with a toy, not only destroying, and that the owner does not like the dog to destroy things.
Hope is not lost! All you need is to communicate and have a little patience
I also feel like dogs can develop a conscious for value or to put it in other words: They can learn that not everything really needs to be destroyed just because they can.
Mila has never in her three years seriously destroyed anything in the household that I could remember. At a very young age she chewed up one wooden knob on a tea cart of mine. That was it. She loves to bring our shoes and even frequently carries around the TV remote control. But she is SO gentle with that item that it would rather break from her dropping it, because she is extra careful and barely clinching her teeth when holding it, than being crushed by her teeth.
Just as with potty training, house rules and everything else, dogs don’t have a “book of the human ways” when they are born.
We need to show them what we want and what we don’t like them to do.
And they are more than willing to learn, if we are willing to take the time and to be patient with them.
Good luck with transforming your Bull Terrier into a more gentle player!
If you have questions or comments, let me know.
Below you find some recommendations on great chew toys for teething puppies from mydogcan.com. Many of them are even suitable for Bull Terrier puppies, even though we know they’re special. 🙂