Stuffing Explosion: Why Do Dogs Destroy Toys?

My sister’s black lab mix tore through her new stuffed toy faster than I could order the stuffed lamb with the black bow around its neck. We grabbed the plastic squeakers before the pup could swallow those in her delight. What is it about dog toys? Why do plush toys send even mild-mannered dogs on a search-and-destroy mission?

Pet parents everywhere watch their dogs pounce and wriggle in delight at a new toy. Chew toys and rawhides are made for chewing, but why does your dog relish ripping apart a plush toy like they are racing against the clock to win a lifetime supply of more toys and their favorite treats? 

5 Reasons Why Your Dog Loves Destroying Toys 

2 dogs playing

There are several reasons why dogs enjoy toy destruction. However, the reasons will vary from dog to dog. Some dog breeds are strong and bound to give any toy a workout; others are small, fluffy dogs like a Shih Tzu who is apt to gnaw on a chew toy but will take weeks or months to pierce it. 

Here are some of the most common reasons for destroying dog toys.

1. Dog Toys Trigger the Prey Instinct 

dog playing at home

If you’ve ever seen your dog pick up a squeaky toy in their mouth and shake it like it was its job, then you’ve seen the “shake and kill” instinct in action. This instinct shows that even gentle lap dogs can carry a shadow of that wolf DNA, sometimes triggered by squeaky toys. The high-pitched squeak wakes your dog’s dormant prey drive and compels him to shake, chomp, and dismantle. 

In the wild, the shaking serves as a way to disorient and immobilize prey. If your dog is a hunting breed like a Labrador retriever or beagle, you won’t be surprised they just can’t help themselves when destroying every plush toy that crosses their path. It truly is instinctual. 

2. So Bored 

Every dog, large or small, needs a way to release pent-up energy. Some dog breeds are naturally high-energy (working breeds come to mind) and thrive on hours of exercise. Such dogs need plenty of exercise and mental stimulation daily. Otherwise, they’ll be bored and bored dogs often entertain themselves by destroying your furniture and gnawing on door frames. 

With supervised playtime, puzzle toys can engage the minds of otherwise bored dogs, so they’re engaged. Puzzle toys encourage problem-solving, dexterity, and, yes, tasty rewards. 

If your dog has a bigger problem like separation anxiety, you’ll probably benefit from working with a dog behaviorist or dog trainer on ways to curb the anxiety. 

3. It’s the Wrong Dog Toy (aka, your dog is too strong for the toy) 

dog playing with toy

You wouldn’t give a 50 lb. pit bull-type dog the same dog toys that you give a 10-pound Chihuahua, would you? Of course not. Pitties have stronger jaws, and bigger paws and require more durable rubber toys than tiny Chihuahuas. 

If you’re looking for interactive toys, your dog (of any size) will love playing tug-of-war with you with rope toys. Most dogs enjoy chew toys of the right size and durability for their jaws. Here are some of our favorite chew bones, and they come in different sizes for a variety of dogs. 

Other dogs love stuffed animals and will carry them around and snuggle them. 

Like people, dogs have their preferences, and you’ll have to try a few toys to see which type your dog prefers. Besides dog breed, your dog’s age plays a role in its preferences and destructive abilities. 

4. Fun, Fun, Fun 

plush interactive dog toys

Dogs just wanna have fun, and toy destroying is fun. It gives your dog mental stimulation as they enjoy finding the weak points in the toy.

For example, if you give your dog a soft toy with squeakers, and they spend the next fifteen minutes methodically working the squeakers and stuffing out, your dog will be so happy! They’ll lie amidst a pile of stuffing, fabric, and plastic squeakers, panting happily and looking satisfied. 

While it’s great fun for your dog, it’s a lot less fun for you. You’ll need to monitor the destruction to prevent choking hazards like squeakers going down your pup’s throat. Plus, if you’re anything like me, it seems wasteful, all that stuffing and such going into the trash immediately. 

One way you can extend the longevity of your dog’s toys is by taking them away before they’re destroyed and rotating them. So if you have a toy basket of soft toys, chew toys, puzzle toys, and tug-of-war toys, but you only pull two or three out at a time, your pup will stay more engaged.

You can also hide a toy behind or under a chair and let your dog “find” it for good fun. Here are some of our favorite hide-and-seek toys. 

5. Your Dog Wants Your Attention 

dog with interactive toy

If your dog rolls around on his back by your feet, happily gnawing on a toy, he’ll probably love it if you play with him. We spend so much time working or handling other responsibilities but your pup is home all day and wants to play with you. 

Shredding pillow cushions is one way to get your attention. But if you ensure your dog has plenty of playtime and exercise as an outlet for pent-up energy, you’ll both be happier. Your dog loves spending time with you, from training to tossing a ball so make sure you play together daily. 

Dogs Are Going to Dog

dog with family

As a pet parent, you’re probably looking for durable dog toys that hold your dog’s attention without immediate destruction. It’s nice to have a variety of toys for your dog’s enrichment. While no dog toy is indestructible, some are stronger than others though you always want to supervise your dog’s playtime as you never know when your dog might get carried away. 

In summary, some dogs love nothing more than destroying toys. But if you buy durable dog toys, rotate them, and only let your pup play with them when you’re around, you’ll be able to understand your pup’s preferences, prevent choking hazards, and extend the life of your dog’s toys. 

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