As you know, we have three Australian Cattle Dog mix pups and Rodrigo is teaching Blue how to properly and efficiently dismantle a toy. When we shop for toys, we keep our big dogs in mind and shop for tough toys. But tough toys for small dogs – wow, I had no idea that this was a necessity. So I’m thankful for this guest contribution sharing tips for those of you with smaller fur kids…
Do You Have a Toy Monster?
My dog Ein is a monster. He isn’t a movie monster or even a cookie monster; he’s a toy monster. For the first few years of Ein’s life, he destroyed almost every single toy I bought for him—often in very clever ways. If he didn’t destroy something, it was because he didn’t like it. Kongs? Boring. Rope toys? He unknotted and then unraveled them. Nylabones? Boring. Tennis balls? He de-felted them. Ein did things to stuffed toys that would make a serial killer cringe, and he had those “tiger tested” tough toys for about 15 minutes before triumphantly making the first hole. He’s. A. Monster. He’s also a corgi.
You’re Not Alone
What is it about small to mid-size dogs that makes them so tenacious about toys? One might think only terriers would be so focused on play-thing annihilation, but a vast number of my fellow toy-destructive dog owners have other breeds as well: beagles, daschunds, English bull dogs and—of course—corgis. And those dogs seem to be bored by Kongs and Nylabones too. What’s a dog owner to do? Not buy toys?
Through careful research and product testing (complements of Ein and some of his cohorts), I’ve come up with some general rules that may help you in the quest for acceptable tough toys. They’ll at least save you some of the money I spent learning these lessons.
What You Shouldn’t Buy
If it’s fabric, of any sort, DON’T BUY IT
I’ve heard people sing the praises of those stuffing-less toys. I’ve also seen Ein gleefully de-fur and then shred them. If it’s made from ANY type of fabric or cloth, it’s going to be destroyed, period. Even tough fabrics have seams and that’s exactly what the dogs go for. Smaller dogs have a nose for finding weak spots.
Regardless of material, if it has small, easily graspable parts, DON’T BUY IT
I bought Ein a sturdy rubber toy that looked like a stick, complete with a few little branch nubs. The first thing he did was chew on one of the nubs until he chewed it off and then tried to swallow it. Toy-destructive dogs do not like to give up their prizes, so save yourself the trouble of having to turn your hand into an endoscope and avoid anything where a dog can get a good grip on a small part.
Regardless of material, if it has holes bigger than half an inch, DON’T BUY IT
One thing Ein has managed to keep around so far is a specific type of rubber ball (more on that later). Feeling high off of this success, I decided to buy him one of those treat balls—the ones that require a hole large enough to accommodate treat-stuffing. That hole was big enough for him to get a few teeth in, and he chewed and chewed until the inch-wide hole was a ragged opening about three times its original size. He would have happily chewed more, but this was about the time I discovered him and removed what was left of the treat ball.
Picky dogs will detest anything harder than rubber, DON’T BUY IT (unless you need a chicken-flavored paper weight)
Nylabone and other brands have created a line of super durable “chew” toys. I write “chew” because these toys are about as “chewable” as a piece of marble. Your picky dog will take a few sniffs of this plastic rock, give you a disgusted look, and then trot off to see if he may have missed any pieces of the last toy he eviscerated. Dog toys need that have at least a little give.
What You Should Consider Buying
So what should you buy? You’re pretty much going to have to take that on a toy by toy and dog by dog basis, but definitely follow the above suggestions. I can also tell you what has worked for Ein.
Certain Orbee balls (made by a company called Planet Dog)
These balls are tough, bouncy, smell like mint, and have a small enough hole that Ein can’t destroy it from the inside out. Avoid any of the ones that have raised designs on them; Ein ripped those off in two days and then continued to worry the hollows created by the designs’ absences. The diamond plate ball, however, is still going strong after a year.
Sturdy, rubber-only, tug toys
I picked up a thick, all rubber, two-handled tug toy from a chain pet store. I washed it, showed Ein how to use it, and we’ve played with it ever since. Just make sure the tug toy is sturdy. This rubber toy has some heft to it—so I have to be careful about where I throw it–, but I’ve seen plenty of bright, more plastic-like toys of this type that I know a toy-destructor would turn into tug-toy crumbs.
A good pen and clearance plush toys
I know. I told you not to buy ANY fabric toys, but nothing seems to bring Ein more pleasure than de-squeakering, de-stuffing, and destroying cuddly toys. I like seeing my dog happy, so whenever I’m anywhere that sells dog toys and has a clearance section, I nose around. If I find something suitable (it has to be dirt cheap and look like it will give him at least five minutes of entertainment), then I take it home, put Ein in his pen, and let him have at the toy while under my watchful gaze. When it appears Ein is in danger of ingesting any part of the toy, I take it away and clean up the area the pen encircles. Ein stays safe, I stay happy, and the rest of the house stays clean.
Do you have a thirty-pound, picky yet merciless toy-destroyer? What have you found that works?
About the Author
Ronald Hinde is an environmentalist and animal lover (despite his fear of snakes!). On the weekends you’ll have to explore a forest area around his home to find him. During the week Ronald researches animal related subject matter as a CA Biodiversity Council supporter and develops his site PetsLess.com, a discounter of popular pet supplies.