Wanda Weimaraner at work on a cardboard box

Wanda at work on a cardboard box

Do you keep trying to find the perfect toy for your dogs to play with and they either ignore what you’ve purchased, or they immediately tear it to shreds?

Here’s an alternative way to let your dogs have fun without costing you a penny—and maybe even helping you recycle in the process!

You know how people with very young children say that at Christmas, the kids seem more interested in the boxes and wrapping paper than the presents?  It seems that many dogs share that same fascination with “the box!” I’ve had dogs whom I’ve given a cardboard box to and encouraged to express their desire to destroy by attacking. It can be a box of any size—from cereal boxes to packing cartons. You’d be amazed at what a big kick they get out of taking apart a cardboard box!

If your dog doesn’t naturally take to it, kick or toss the box and energetically say “get it” enticingly a few times. Praise them when they begin to rip at it and they’ll catch on. Box destruction seems to satisfy their need to destroy something. They will dismantle it by ripping or gnawing off pieces, which you then should pick right up and put in your recycle bin before the dog considers chewing thoroughly so the cardboard becomes gummy—and ultimately swallow-able.

It can be a nuisance to clean up all the pieces. It also means being careful to keep out of your dog’s reach those boxes you want to keep intact! But box destruction can be really fun and satisfying for dogs and saves on costly toys they chew apart in no time, anyway.

CAUTIONARY NOTE: Always supervise the cardboard mayhem, picking up the smaller pieces right away as your dog tears them off.

Do not even think of trying this at home if you have a dog who swallows bits and piece of various other items they have happily decimated—and you especially want to reject this whole exercise in managed fun if you happen to have of those legendary Labrador Retrievers whom we’ve all heard about, who eat entire socks or swallow brassieres!

—Tracie Hotchner
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