Toys for Destructive Dogs
In the 2009-2010 American Pet Products Manufacturer’s Association’s National Pet Owners Survey, there were approximately 77.5 million dogs in American households. As more people become dog owners, more people also find out that responsible dog ownership can prove frustrating. Sooner or later every dog owner experiences destructive behavior, whether that’s raiding the garbage can while you were at work or eating your two hundred dollar computer cord. For most dogs that sort of behavior is a part of growing up and easily handled with proper training and perhaps meditation on the part of the dog owner.
However, some dogs remain prone to destructive behaviors their entire lives. Breed, age, activity level, and past experiences can all contribute to dogs behaving badly with your personal items, and should be taken into consideration when looking for solutions to the problem. Before we get to the fun part; an educated and responsible dog owner should always seek an experienced, professional, trainer and/or behaviorist when dealing with a difficult pet and such is recommended here.
The majority of bad dog behavior arises from boredom and curiosity; being immediately its own reward encourages the bad behavior. When your pet cannot resist the tempting smell of the barbecue sauce laden paper towel in your trashcan and goes to investigate, the instant reward of getting to shred and eat the object is often more intense than any punishment you may try upon discovery. Very simply, a bored dog is usually a destructive dog. Along with proper training and exercise, the right set of toys may greatly improve your dog’s behavior by redirecting energy and curiosity to appropriate items.
So, to help with your dog’s bad behavior you should get toys. That sounds simple enough until you enter the vast, florescent glow of any major pet store, or even pet aisle in your local grocery. Suddenly, you are overwhelmed by all manner of toys and chews, from the cute and fluffy to positively disgusting looking (and sometimes smelling). Finding the right toy or chew for your dog is critical to keeping her or him entertained and safe, but what to pick?
You know your dog better than anyone else; your dog’s individual tastes should take president in your selection. For new dog owners this may be a bit more difficult; research on your dog’s breed, speaking to your pet’s breeder or prior foster home, and talking to your dog’s veterinarian and trainer are good ideas. Sometimes nothing short of trial and error will work though, so don’t be disappointed if your dog doesn’t fall in love with what you’ve brought home! The following toys were selected based upon the average needs and interests of most destructive dogs, as well as the products’ proven qualities.
Possibly the single most well known, branded, dog toy in America, the Kong at first glance does not glow with significance. It looks like a multi tiered piece of rubber with a hole in it…it is, and yet, so much more. The company has been setting the standard for durable pet toys since 1976, and is still coming up with inventive, lasting products to entertain your dog, cat, horse, ferret, or even bird. The tough, rubber Kong toy most of us are familiar with can filled with treats made by the company, including real peanut butter spray, or what ever safe treat you choose. Your dog’s objective is to remove the filling while the Kong rolls, bounces, and resists chewing. When not filled, the toy is fun as an interactive fetch item, its shape making it bounce in unpredictable ways. The Kong is easy to clean and, when the right variety is selected for your pet, extremely durable even with intense chewers. A wide variety of these rubber Kongs are available to suit the needs of puppies, seniors, average to extreme chewers, and even to support dental health. On their website, the company offers a selection guide to help you choose the best product for your pet in addition to recipes, and several other durable products like the Kong Wubba and Wobbler to entertain your pet.
The rope toy, or tug, has been a staple of dog ownership quite possibly since the invention of rope. The social benefits of playing with your dog are immense and can increase the bond between owner and dog while providing mutual exercise and lessening behavioral problems. For the multiple dog owner, the rope toy can be hours of entertainment while watching both pets play together with the toy. Some rope toys are even designed to improve dental health, either in the design of the rope itself or in additions to it. The rope toy makes this list as its durability is renown, its affordable and widely available, and is easy to clean. As with all toys, your pet should be supervised while playing, and it should be replaced once it shows signs of wear to reduce any risk of ingestion. Additionally, there is a debate among dog trainers that tug-of-war games may encourage a dog’s dominant behavior in the household due to winning these games. Behavioral studies have not yet proven this to be true, showing instead that dogs who play tug games with their owners are more likely to be responsive to commands, likely due to the increased bonding experience. Your individual pet and situation should be taken into consideration, however.
Most dogs with destructive habits are bored, most dogs who are bored are very intelligent. Think about it, if your Jack Russell mix took the time to figure out how to get onto your kitchen counters and then onto your refrigerator to devour the cat treats, you do not have a dumb dog. There are more products showing up every day to encourage mental activity in dogs, two of the most durable and highly recommended are the Hide a Squirrel (there’s now a Hide a Bird, Hide a Bee and more) and the Smarter Toys IQ Treat Ball. The Hide a Squirrel is a surprisingly durable, completely washable, plush puzzle in which three squirrels are hidden in a plush tree stump for your dog to find and remove. The Smarter Toys IQ Treat Ball has multiple difficulty settings for you to increase as your dog learns how to maneuver the ball about to dispense treats. Some owners use this toy to feed their dogs, putting their kibble into the ball so that they have to actively work for their food, an activity that can keep a food motivated dog busy for quite some time. The shape of the ball is not conducive to being chewed, and owners report long time use by large dogs with no damage. As with all toys, supervision is necessary. This toy may not be right for you if you own multiple dogs, do not have a large area for the ball to roll, or own small, sedentary, or own a dog who is not food motivated.
As with most toys readily available in grocery stores and, unfortunately, even large chain pet stores, the chews offered for your pet are often down right hazardous. Though the rawhide bone remains popular, it is notoriously unsafe for your dog, known to cause intestinal blockage and choking hazards. To the vegetarian pet owner, rawhides may also be offensive, some additionally leave stains and foul odors behind, and they last a very short time. Antlerz provide an excellent solution to all rawhide problems; they contain no plastic or chemicals, are naturally shed deer antlers not from a slaughter house, are incredibly long lasting in all sizes, and lack choking hazards, bad smells, and stains. Given the long lasting nature of the product, the price is very reasonable for a dog owner on a budget too!
The Orbee Ball by Planet Dog has been rated the top product of the year by numerous magazines, which is no surprise given the toy is nearly irresistible to dogs and backed by a 100% guarantee. Coming in a variety of colors, the Earth embossed ball is non-toxic, minty, buoyant, bouncy, durable, easy to clean, made in the U.S.A. and the company stresses eco-friendly products for the environmentally concerned pet owner. The wide variety of sizes and styles, toys even appropriate for puppies and senior dogs, are made easy to choose from using the company’s “chew-o-meter” scale available online. While visiting their web site, or local carrier, be sure to look at the numerous other products Planet Dog makes, all are made to the same high standards of safety and durability.
Chuckit products are excellent for interactive play with your dog. The ball launcher is not only easy to use when tossing balls to your dog, but also picks up the ball- eliminating the need to touch slobbery toys and proving helpful to disabled dog owners who may not be able to reach a dropped toy. In addition to the Chuckit launcher, the company makes a plethora of durable and buoyant toys to go with the launcher or to be singly, like the Flying Squirrel. The Flying Squirrel soars like a flying disc, has raised sides for easy pick up, glow in the dark paws, floats, and has a multilayer construction for extra durability. Nearly all of the company’s products are made with water play and retrieving in mind, and many have an emphasis on being gentle to your dog’s mouth.
There are many products on the market for your pet, ultimately the choice is up to you to see what works best with your pet. Always avoid toys that may have choking hazards like decorative eyes or easily removed squeakers, throw away worn toys, and supervise your pet during play. Entertainment and bonding are only half the solution to a destructive dog, always consult a professional trainer and veterinarian to help resolve your individual situation, and keep playtime fun!