Q & A: Toy destruction

Q: It doesn’t matter what kind of toy I give my dog, he chews it until nothing is left, or his gums start bleeding, and I want to prevent this at all costs. What kind of toy can I give him to play with?

A: This can be a real problem with strong chewers, as they may injure their gums and teeth, or even swallow pieces of toys that could cause an obstruction. There are a few options though. Look for toys that are made especially for strong chewers – fortunately there is an increasing amount of options available in this regard.

However, if you know your dog to be a strong chewer, don’t leave him with any toy unsupervised until you are completely sure that it doesn’t harm his mouth and that he doesn’t break it. Keep all toys securely locked away where your dog cannot access them. Bring out a couple of sturdy toys for playtime, when you can watch your dog easily.

Easily breakable toys can be brought out for interactive play such as fetch or tug, but not left out for chewing. As it will be necessary to remove the toys from your dog when supervised playtime is over, it is important that he associates this with something good.

When it’s time to put the toys away, get a few treats out and toss them around for your dog to search for as you put away his toys. This will work as a positive cue that toy-time is over for the day.

Katherine Brown, behaviourist

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