13 Tough Toys for Power Chewers
Veterinary behaviorist Dr. Valli Parthasarathy reccos the most durable dog toys for destructive players.
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Imagine it’s Christmas morning. You’ve just given your kid a new bike, Xbox, or, er, iPhone (whatever kids are into these days). They open it and you see that ecstatic glimmer in their eyes — a brand of excitement you forgot existed. For a moment, you feel truly content and accomplished — you never thought you’d be responsible for so much joy in another. Then your kid grabs the (very expensive) gift, throws it at the wall, and stomps it on the ground until it is rendered useless. This is essentially what I go through whenever I buy my dog any toy, ever.
It is also, unfortunately, not an uncommon experience for dog parents. We’ll buy our pups new toys only to see them destroyed in minutes. And forget plush options — all too often they result in a G-rated cotton spreaded murder scene. We asked veterinary behaviorist Dr. Valli Parthasarathy why dogs destroy toys and how to discourage destructive chewing.
Why Do Dogs Destroy Toys?
Are power chewers made or born? “Dogs chew on items for a variety of reasons. The most common reason is for self-entertainment and exploration. Dogs explore their environment with their mouths and chewing is an extension of this normal and natural behavior,” says Dr. Parthasarathy. It’s why this habit is especially prevalent in puppies, as they explore their surroundings and form their permanent teeth. But some dogs, like mine, never grow out of this phase. They continue to rip through toys well past their adolescence. For them, there are a few reasons for their behavior.
According to Dr. Parthasarathy, “some [reasons] are based on their personality (they just like to chew hard), other times it can be related to anxiety. I have several patients that have exhibited decreased chewing intensity as their anxiety is reduced.” Other reasons include stress from separation anxiety, territorial behavior like resource guarding, or medical conditions that cause increased appetite or nausea.
How To Curb Dog Toy Destruction
There are a few tactics to help discourage destructive chewing (or chewing items they shouldn’t for their own safety). Dr. Parthasarathy explains that one helpful trick is to encourage them to play with toys in ways other than chewing, such as licking. But supervision is crucial. Watch your dog as they play to ensure they’re not ingesting any pieces. Of course, some would argue the simplest way to handle the situation is to buy proper toys that can handle the wear. Dr. Parthasarathy, for her part, agrees. “If a dog is chewing for self-stimulation or exploration, provide appropriate toys that are strong and are difficult to destroy,” she recommends. So, we rounded up the best options that meet that criteria.
Btw, our editors (and their pets) picked out these products. They’re always in stock at the time we publish, but there’s a chance they’ll sell out. If you do buy through our links, we may earn a commission. (We’ve got a lot of toys to buy over here, you know?)
Two words: Endless entertainment.
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Sean Zucker is an editor at The Wildest whose work has also been featured in Points In Case, The Daily Drunk, Posty, and WellWell. He recently adopted a Pit Bull named Banshee whose work has been featured on the kitchen floor and behavioral issues rival his own.