You just bought your dog a new stuffed squeaky toy, and within a week, it’s gone. Completely wrecked, torn to pieces, never to be salvaged again. Or perhaps they’ve had it for quite some time, you thought it was their favorite and then one day, out of the blue, they tore it to pieces.
So why do dogs end up destroying their toys? Simply put, the best instincts based reason is that they see the toy as prey and it is their hunting instincts that drive them to destroy the toy. When you throw the toy for them to catch, they see it as prey, and when they catch it they start tearing it apart, looking for food. They find nothing immediately, so they continue to chew it.
When in the wild, their prey would make noises, such as squeaks, and so this noise provides a stimulus that reminds them of their instinctual desire to hunt. This is likely why squeaky toys are the most commonly torn apart toys and why some dogs will lose interest in a squeaky toy once it has stopped making noise.
With some dogs this instinct is so strong that they will chew apart toys with little provocation. You won’t even need to throw it in order to for the dog to start to see the toy as prey. It’s smaller than them and you are giving it to them and they have likely associated it with the same action as when you give them food. Some dogs may try to eat the toy at this point, while most are merely trying to find the food in the toy, even if there isn’t any.
Another common belief as to why dogs will chew up their toys is simply: the dog is too big for the toy you’ve given then. This is the most common reason when you give a big dog such as a Great Dane or even a Rottweiler a small stuffed toy to play with. They really don’t mean to destroy it, but the toy is simply too small for them to get a handle on.
They may be playing nice with it, then another dog or another person gives it a tug, a tooth ends up getting caught on the fabric and over time it starts to pull apart. At that point the dog becomes more interested in the stuffing inside than the actual toy and starts pulling out the stuffing. Soon, there isn’t even a real toy left anymore.
It may not even be a size issue, but an interest issue. They dog may not be interested in a small, soft squeeky toy. Whether it is because they are a food motivated dog and they are looking for a treat inside of the toy (even if they don’t see it as prey), or they want something more stimulating and they are bored with the toy, or they want something that they can chew on.
If your dog is a chewer, and you happen to give them a toy that can easily be destoryed, it’s likely the wrong kind of toy. With some dogs, most commonly larger breed dogs, but not always, tougher toys such as Kong toys are made of a thicker plastic and pretty hard for the dogs to destroy. This may be a good idea for larger dogs even if they don’t always tear apart their toys, as it tends to last longer through normal wear and tear.
Sometimes it may simply be boredom that causes the dog to teat apart their toy. While that may seem a little odd, people commonly will tear apart things such as old electronics for the same reason. It doesn’t have to be anything specific that sets the dog to tear the toy to shreds besides simple boredom. They get all of the use they can out of the toy in one go and there isn’t anything left. Whether it was because they were alone for too long or they just decided they were bored.
If you don’t want your dog to chew up and tear apart his toys, there are ways to help it. The best way is to get them a toy that is harder to chew up, such as something made of thick rubber. Another option is training, though this is not always as effective with all dogs. Some dogs may respond to training, while others will not. Fixing excessive chewing will largely depend on the personality and breed of your dog.