Our iDig digging toys are a fan favorite for digging obsessed pups… and we love it! Some of our favorite social media posts are of your pups taking a nap inside (!) of the iDig after being exhausted from their digging and foraging session. As with all of our iFetch toys, we want your pup to use their brains, get some physical exercise, and have a blast. So, when we see or hear of dogs interacting with our toys in a way that could cause them harm, we have to share some tips. Lately, we’ve seen a few dogs chewing on the iDig flaps and also on the toggles where the flaps connect to the base. We don’t want your toy to be ruined, nor do we want your dog to be hurt. So, we enlisted the help of our professional dog trainer, Nicole Ellis, to share some tips for how to transition your pup from frustration (or destruction) to fun. If your pup has a tendency to chew on the iDig flaps instead of digging on them, this post is for you!
The first step of training is proper supervision – always watch your dog, or check in with them, when they’re playing with their iDig. It’s important to catch them in the act of chewing as soon as it occurs so they can make the connection between what is safe play and what is not.
When you see your dog chewing on their iDig tell them firmly “No” and then encourage them to “Dig, dig, dig!” instead. Scratch on the top of the flaps to encourage them to dig instead of biting. Don’t be afraid to get on your hands and knees when encouraging them – remember, our dogs love interacting with us as much as their toys. Keep redirecting the behavior every time they start chewing instead of digging or nosing the flaps. Another tip – if they are moving from the flaps up to the plastic toggles where the flap connects to the base, this can be dangerous. We don’t want your pup to ingest any materials from the toy – it’s obviously not good for their digestive systems, and it doesn’t make for a fun vet visit. Check out an earlier blog here for how to encourage your dog to safely interact with the iDig. Also, don’t forget to reward your pup when he or she moves back to digging. Keep a few of their favorite treats or dinner kibble handy, and give them lots of praise and pets when they stop biting/chewing.
Make sure the hide-and-seek game isn’t too difficult
If your pup is consistently chewing on the flaps, they may be frustrated. Make sure you are starting with the easier flaps (the ones with the larger pocket and hiding areas) and graduating to the more difficult ones. As you’ve probably noticed, the Hide and Scratch flaps are easier to smell and find the treats. The Paw flap has smaller, more difficult hiding places, which may be something your pup needs to work up to. Make sure your pup can win, i.e., get to the treats or toys by digging and nosing safely. We also suggest putting a few treats in easy places – like directly on top of the flap layers so your dog can get a few with ease. If you want to purchase another set of flaps so you have an extra Hide and Scratch flap to help your pup avoid frustration, check out our website.
Put it away
If your dog has a tendency to destroy toys, we recommend putting the iDig away when you’re unable to supervise them. Once the play session is done, put your iDig in the closet or in a place where your dog can’t reach it, and bring it out again when they’re ready for some more supervised playtime. This method also keeps the iDig exciting and special!
It might be time to try bitter apple
If you’ve tried the tips above and your pup is still chewing, consider spraying the edges of your flaps with a bitter apple spray, we recommend this one (link: https://amzn.to/3DhjpVw) and, again, continue to encourage (and show!) your dog to dig and sniff.
We hope this leads to endless hours of digging fun for your pup. With your guidance, they’ll learn quickly how to interact with their toy, so that your iDig produces months and years of digging pleasure.