If chewing was an Olympic sport, would your dog win a gold medal—and then chew it? If your pup destroys dog toys in less time than it takes you to buy them, then you have a heavy chewer. Dogs chew to relieve stress, burn energy and keep themselves entertained, so it’s important to find the proper dog chew toys to keep them healthy and happy.
“Heavy chewers create special problems for owners trying to find them a good toy,” says Dr. Ari Zabell of Banfield Pet Hospital. “If the toy is too soft, it can fall apart, which creates a mess, can cause health problems if the pet swallows the pieces, and leaves the pet without a toy to play with.”
The right durable dog toys can also help promote positive chewing behaviors, which can stop dogs from chewing shoes or furniture, reduce separation anxiety in dogs and curb other types of destructive dog behaviors—like excessive barking or digging. To help you find the best durable dog toys for your chewing champion, here are some tips and recommendations from the experts.
Dog Toys That Bounce Back For Canine Entertainment
Rubber KONG toys are known for being one of the toughest dog chew toys. Durable dog toys like KONG Extreme Dog Toys are great for heavy chewers because they’re tough and versatile. In fact, the founder of KONG invented the toy to help cure his German Shepherd, Fritz, of his rock-chewing habit. KONG toys offer a natural rubber chew that bounces erratically when thrown, making it a fun toy to chase and retrieve. But the key to making these durable dog toys so irresistible to your heavy chewer is the ability to stuff it.
Fill the KONG with treats for a fun, challenging puzzle toy, or stuff it with soft dog food, peanut butter or a KONG paste, like the KONG Stuff’N Easy Treat Bacon & Cheese Recipe, to create an all-day toy. (Put it in the freezer for a few hours to make the treat last even longer!)
When choosing a KONG or similar rubber toy for your dog, make sure the rubber has enough give to it so that it bends when it’s chewed, but doesn’t break off, Dr. Zabell explains. Also, if it is hollow for stuffing with treats, ensure the opening is thick enough so that it can’t be torn apart.
Gnawsome Nylon For Destructive Dog Chewing
Nylon chews, like the Nylabone DuraChew Dental Chew Dinosaur, are also good choices for heavy chewers. They’re made of tough, durable nylon that is hard enough for a challenging chew but won’t damage teeth and gums. In fact, some nylon bones have little nubs or textures that help clean teeth and massage gums. And they come in different flavors like chicken, beef and even mint for fresh breath.
“Nylabones have great textures for dogs’ mouths, especially puppies from 16 weeks,” says Beth Harrison, ABCDT-L2, AKC Canine Good Citizen evaluator and dog obedience classroom instructor at the Animal Behavior College in Valencia, CA.
Providing puppy chew toys, like Nylabone’s Puppy Chew Starter Kit, during the puppy chewing stage is a good way to encourage positive habits early on, Harrison advises.
Tug Toys With Teeth
For a little one-on-one playtime with your dog, there’s nothing a heavy chewer likes more than a challenging game of tug-of-war. Step up your game with a tough tug toy worthy of his kung-fu type grip, like the GoughNuts TuG Dog Toy. Made especially for large dogs, this rubber ring toy is designed in a figure eight so your dog can pull on one side, and you can pull on the other with your hands safely away from his mouth. Another cool feature about this toy is its red color safety indicator. When red starts to show through the rubber, it is an indication that the toy is no longer safe for use.
While tug toys are a lot of fun, remember that they’re designed for interactive play, not necessarily solo chewing. “Tug toys aren’t really designed to be chewed on and played with all the time, so I only bring them out when we want to play tug,” says Alison Schramel, animal behavior and training supervisor at Animal Humane Society in St. Paul, MN.
Tough Dog Toys with a Soft Side
Just because your dog is a heavy chewer doesn’t mean he shouldn’t have a soft plush toy to snuggle with. Because plush toys are usually the first to get shredded by destructive dog chewing, which can leave potential choking hazards behind, pet parents tend to shy away from giving them to their champion chewers. But you can still appeal to your dog’s soft side with sturdy dog plush toys like GoDog Amphibianz Chew guard Iguana Dog Toy. This durable dog toy has a strong, durable liner and double-stitched seams, making it rugged enough for hours of chewing.
Bone-ified Dog Chews
If you really want to grab your heavy chewer’s habit by the horns, try deer antlers like USA Bones & Chews Deer Antler Dog Chews. Antlers are naturally shed and are a great source of calcium, phosphorous and other nutrients. And unlike bully sticks and rawhide, antlers are low-odor, non-greasy fat free and won’t stain. These chews are great for reducing separation anxiety in dogs by keeping them preoccupied and entertained.
Safety Tips for Your Heavy Chewer
- Whether you choose an antler, nylon bone or rubber KONG for your heavy chewer, it is recommended that you supervise your pet the first couple of times they chew a new toy to ensure it stays intact and doesn’t pose any choking hazards.
- If the chew toy or antler splits, chips, tears or sheds stuffing, throw it away and replace with a new one to prevent your dog from ingesting these materials.
- Avoid rough or abrasive toys, as well as wood, as these can injure your dog’s mouth.
Chris Brownlow has been writing about pets for over 10 years. As a writer who believes in immersing herself in her topic, she has tasted more than 20 different flavors of dog and cat food while working on an advertising campaign for PetSmart. Prior to her pet days, Chris was a print and digital journalist at The Tampa Tribune and The Virginian-Pilot.