Friday, February 6, 2015

Dealing with dog toy destruction: How to help dog toy killers!

Liam the pug and Sinead the Boston terrier and their toys

Liam and Sinead have a whole basket of toys to choose from. And each month, they get one or two new toys in a BarkBox shipment (which we love). But sometimes, they're all little rough on the things they love.

Typically, toy destruction in this house happens after long sessions of solo chewing. Sinead sits down with a toy and starts to chew on one specific spot. Often, she targets the tags that outline who made the toy and what is inside of the toy. But sometimes, she focuses on the sewn-on parts of the toy, like the eyes or the nose. When that happens, she chews big holes in the toys that I can't always fix.

But, toy destruction can also come about due to the epic fetch sessions Sinead loves to engage in. She likes to pounce on the toy before she picks it up, and usually that means the toy is ground into the carpet with each throw. Then, when she picks the toy up, she gives the thing a little shake of her head, which can be rough on the stuffing. Finally, she likes for me to wrest the toy out of her mouth before she gives it back.

See her in action here:

Now, imagine her going through that same series of steps 900 times. You can see why toys could get killed with all of that. 

Unfortunately, Sinead used this process to kill a very cute toy we got in our January BarkBox (it's the snowman I discussed in this blog post). Within about 2 weeks of getting this toy, Sinead had totally ruined it.

I love BarkBox, in part, because the company replaces toys Sinead manages to kill. When I mentioned that this toy wasn't working out, the folks at BarkBox got in touch with the people at Delca Corporation, and yesterday, we got this big tiger toy Sinead is playing with in the video. Getting toys from reputable companies like this, companies that stand behind the work, is one way to deal with the destruction.

But another method involves simple management. If toys are new and I don't know that much about them, I try to keep them away from the dogs unless I can supervise. If I see Sinead sitting down to rip a hunk in the toy, I can replace it with a chewing toy that's more suitable. (And I have many chew toys set aside just for this purpose.)

My best technique, however, involves exercise. When my dogs get destructive like this, it's typically because they're not getting enough exercise on a daily basis. They need more stimulation, and that means they need more walks. But, stimulation can also come through mental exercises. When the dogs are taking toy destruction to a whole new level, teaching them a new trick can wear them out enough that they play nicely with their toys.

So, I'm super thrilled that we got a replacement for the toy Sinead killed (and we even got bonus treats!). But here's hoping I can keep her from killing more toys in the future.

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