“How in the world do those dog toys get destroyed so fast?!”
This is a question so many dog owners ask themselves (and their dogs!) every day. “How did you shred this toy so quickly?” It is in a dog’s nature to chew things and they have been doing it since puppy hood. It is a normal part of being a dog. If your dog was on it’s own in the wild it would have to be able to chew in order to survive. He would chew primarily on things such as animal bones – from deer antler to a femur – as well as occasional cartilage, etc. This not only provides excellent nutrition for your dog but it also cleans their teeth. We must also remember that dogs cannot explore things the same way we do so they put them in their mouths and – you guessed it! – chew on them. So it really shouldn’t come as a surprise when our dog chews up a toy we give them.
There are many different types of toys on the market today. Hard rubber balls, leather straps tied to rope, tug toys, stuffed plush toys, and many more. Most people who have a dog that shreds every toy in sight will provide only rubber toys in hopes of making them last a little longer. But instead of adjusting what we buy for our dogs we should be asking how do we let our dogs play with these toys?
There is a major difference between a dog toy and a dog chew. A dog chew is something that, as the name implies, a dog can chew and potentially shred or eat. This is typically something that will clean their teeth, as mentioned above, and help give them a healthy outlet for their chewing. There are many natural chews out there that are healthy for a dog not only behaviorally but nutritionally. Ideas for a dog chew include a deer antler, cow hoof, pigs ear, bully stick, raw bone, cow trachea, and the list goes on.
A toy, on the other hand, is an interactive treasure that should be played with between two dogs or a dog and a person. Even the hard, guaranteed rubber balls can be broken if you allow a dog to lay there and just chew on it all day. That’s not what those toys were made for. By playing with your dog with a toy, not only is your dog getting better exercise but you are strengthening your bond with your dog. Dogs have what is called a social drive, meaning they need social interaction with others, and playing with them is a wonderful way to do this. And by taking the toy up at the end of play time you are actually making that object all the more valuable and special for the next time you bring it out for play time! While this won’t keep your dog’s toys from ever breaking, it will certainly help them last a lot longer.
So the next time you are shopping for a toy for your dog, ask yourself “does my dog need a chew or an interactive toy?”. I’ll give you a hint – you will have a much happier dog at the end of the day if you buy both!