Why Does My Dog Shred Toys

Dog with toy
Have you ever bought your dog a new toy and within 5 minutes that toy is laying there on the floor shredded into pieces, flat, it’s stuffing all pulled out, and it’s squeaker destroyed with teeth marks piercing it? Your dog sitting proudly beside it and looking up at you as if to say, was that not what that was for?

You have probably asked your self, why does my dog shred toys? This thought has probably crossed your mind, I can’t buy him anything new. As soon as I give the toy to him, he goes on a search and destroy mission. Should I stop buying him new toys?

It is a little more complicated than that, so let’s dig a little deeper.

Prey Drive, What Is It And Where Did It Come From?

Prey drive has been bred into dogs for hundreds of years and comes originally from wolfs. It is their instinct to find, pursue, and capture prey. The prey drive follows a distinct sequence:Wolf- Prey Drive

  • Search – using the nose, ears, and eyes
  • Stalk
  • Chase
  • Bite
  • Consume

Now that dogs are domesticated and live with us in our homes and are fed every day, there is no need for their prey drive. However, it is still in their genetics. You will notice it when they chase after small animals such as squirrels and rabbits.

That new small toy you just bought looks (small and fluffy) and sounds (the squeaker) just like that to your dog. This can trigger your dogs prey drive and send him straight into the hunt and kill mode. In some breeds the chance to satisfy the prey drive is it’s own reward.

Could Your Dog Just Be Bored?

So your dog is home alone while you are at work and there are no other dogs to play with. Your dog has built up energy. So what does he do? He picks up a toy and shreds it until he “kills” it. The squeaker, stuffing, and flat toy are laying on the floor.

The best way to stop this is to get your dog tired before you leave for work. Some ways of doing this is to take him for a long walk, let him play with another dog, or have play time with your dog where your sole focus is on him. Then he can just rest while you are away.

A Learned Behavior And Its Fun

When a dog is just a little puppy it is always so cute just to watch him try to attack and tear apart a toy. We tend to laugh at his mini bark when the doorbell rings and even enjoy playing with him rough games like of tug of war. Because he learnedPuppy with toy in his mouth these behaviors at a young age, what happens when he is full-grown? All those learned behaviors turn into problems that are habits and are hard to break.

Your dog could just find it fun to shred a toy and it feels good to him to satisfy his prey drive. When he gets a new toy, to satisfy his prey drive, he will find a weak spot or loose seam to rip it open. Then he will have the enjoyment of tearing it apart piece by piece. At the finish he will kill the squeaker and he feels good.

Any positive attention you give your dog will only encourage him to continue shredding toys because he thinks this is what you want him to do and it is OK. How long will it be, because he thinks it’s OK, before he moves on to shredding the couch cushions, pillows or even your shoe?

I can’t give him anymore toys!

You may think this is the best way of keeping your dog from shredding his toys. However, dogs need toys to help them remain entertained, engaged, healthy and to remain happy.

It is important to give your dog the right kind of toy for your dog’s breed. You don’t want to give a soft plush toy to a breed of dog that has strong jaws. Those kinds of toys are made for smaller mouths.

Toys should provide more than a few minutes of destruction. Toys without stuffing or squeakers are more lasting and strong and are less likely to be destroyed. Crinkle toys, hard rubber toys, and puzzle interactive toys that your dog has to roll a ball or move a puzzle piece to get the treat inside will last longer and help keep your dog healthy and occupied.

If Your Dog Shreds His Toys There Are Health Concerns

It may seem like harmless fun, however allowing your dog to shred his toys could cause serious health concerns. Even if you are watching your dog destroy the toy, how can you be certain he didn’t swallow any of it. The material the plush dog toys are made out of is not healthy for the dog to swallow and it can’t be digested. There are also many other reasons your dog should not eat the toy material.

  • Upset stomach to include vomiting, diarrhea, and refusal to eat
  • Choking – parts can get lodged in the throat or esophagus
  • Bowel obstruction- if the parts don’t get stuck in the throat they could get stuck in the bowel

While with all of these conditions you should take your dog to your veterinarian immediately, bowel obstruction can be deadly.

Dog at vet

Your veterinarian may have to perform surgery or otherwise your dog’s life could be in danger.

Signs of a bowel obstruction are:

  • Continuous vomiting
  • Drowsiness or inactivity
  • Diarrhea
  • Refusing to eat
  • Dehydration
  • Abdominal bloating or sensitivity
  • Signs of pain, whining or curling up but can’t get comfortable

If you notice any of these signs and your dog has shredded a toy or other item take him to the veterinarian immediately.

Saving Money And Time

As before if your dog has ingested pieces of a toy or other item, and you have to take your dog to the veterinarian, it can get expensive very quickly. The amount will be based on the procedures he has to perform.

Also, dog toys can range from $5 to $30+. If the toy only provided entertainment for a few minutes, you are literally throwing your money away with the shredded toy. If you allow your dog to continue, there is a chance that your furniture with stuffing could be next. Then it can become very expensive to replace the furniture that has been ruined.

Not letting your dog shred toys can also save time because now you won’t have to clean up the mess your dog made.

What Should I Buy?

You should always choose the best toy for your dog’s breed, size, activity level, chewing ability, and prey drive. Consider also that each dog has it’s individual personality, likes and dislikes, desire and emotions.Dog with rubber toy in his mouth

We can see now that there are many factors as to why your dog shreds toys and the criteria you should use to help stop the shredding by purchasing the correct toy for your dog. Just remember to supervisor your dog with the toy you choose and to play with him.

If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions please comment below in the space below. I am always happy to answer any questions you may have, as I have had a dog also that loved to shred toys and I have had experience with this.

Remember a happy dog, a happy home!

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