Dog Toys Are Not An Option For A Happy Dog
When a dog is happy and well-adjusted, it speaks volume of its owner who cares to provide his or her pet a healthy balance of physical and mental stimulation.
It is said that dogs have an intelligence of a two-year-old. They love to play like every toddler growing up. And toys are essential tools for behavior adjustment, and a great stimulus to enhance mental and physical wellbeing.
But not all toys will appeal to every dog. The key is knowing what your dog needs and like, and that will help you choose the right toys for your dog.
And you don’t necessarily have to spend money acquiring those toys. In fact, some of your dispensable items in the house can be re-purposed as toys for your dog.
Safety Must Always Come First
Before you pass on anything as a toy to your dog, make sure it is safe for your four-legged buddy. The idea of safety doesn’t exist with dogs. They can’t differentiate what’s edible and what’s not like the way we do.
Especially with chew toys, please be sure to supervise them when they are at it. You never know, pieces can be bitten off and swallowed. And you wouldn’t want to risk going through an expensive surgery later and putting your dog’s life on the line.
The trauma experienced by both you and the dog is just not worth it and definitely can be avoided.
Dogs will bite or swallow anything, and you will be surprised at some of the stuff they gulp down. Ask Dr. Phil Zeltzman.
You should always monitor your pets’ toys! No toy is completely safe. – Dr. Phil Zeltzman
And some toys are made with toxic materials that can adversely affect your dog’s health. Especially those coming out of overseas factories with questionable manufacturing processes.
But how do you know what toys are safe for your canine buddy?
You can gauge a safe physical size, but you can’t tell the type of material used to make the toys. So make sure you read the Safety Warning label or the manufacturers’ specifications (if any).
Checking out the manufacturer’s website for safety information and material listing is a good pre-purchase practice. Or you can also find out a lot from reviews on major e-commerce sites such as Amazon.
Another avenue to obtain useful information on material safety is the Pet Supply data compiled by Healthy Stuff. Use the platform to research the type of toys you intend to buy. They’ve got a comprehensive listing of test data on pet toys sold in the marketplace.
Getting To Know Your Dog’s Age And Behavior
Just like humans, dogs too have their likes and dislikes for things. And it’s not difficult to find out through observing their daily behavior. Often it’s just plain common sense.
At the same time, you should be mindful of your dog’s age. A puppy will have a different preference for toys than an adult or senior. The energy levels correspond with the aging stages.
Dogs are especially active during puppyhood. Most average size dogs mature to a full-grown adult in about 12 to 18 months before they begin to calm down. So it is during this period, toys are an essential item to help steer them away from behavior problems.
So by observing their behavior, or their playing style, you are following their instinct to determine the type of toys they want. Choosing the right toys is to provide the proper outlets for good behavior development. And more important is the bond and trust you are building with your
Knowing the right toy to buy will save you money, and you won’t end up with a mess of unwanted toys filling up every corner in the house.
Selecting Dog Toys Your Dog Will Not Reject
Unless your dog could speak and write, you can never be 100% sure what toys will appeal to your dog. You may find your dog loves to chew stuff, so getting a chew toy would be an obvious choice.
Yes, but not any chew toys.
You must look at what it loves to chew; the texture, smell, shape, size, and the way it chews. Get a toy as close to that and high chances it will not reject. Toy manufacturers know that, which is why there are a huge variety of chews to meet that demand.
But generally, dogs love stuff that they can chew on, torn apart, and taste like food. They also get bored easily with toys that they are accustomed to and would look for new things to play. There are hardly any toys that would attract a dog’s interest for a long period.
The only plaything that a dog loves throughout its lifetime is You.
Unless you are involved in the play, it is almost impossible to re-ignite a dog’s interest with any toys you gave to it. So don’t be too quick to get another toy when your dog is bored. In most cases, it just wants your attention or yearning to play with you.
If you have to buy a new toy for replacement, try not to repeat the same one. At least with a change in color, size, shape, and smell. An interactive toy like a treat dispensing ball or bone is always a good idea. Or anything that can make a sound, vibrates or light up when touch or move.
Toys that are quiet, hard to chew or torn apart are not so attractive to a dog.
Finally, rotate the toys. Just when it started to get bored with a toy, change it to another one. The old toy it played with last month will look like new again. But remember to keep those toys away from their sight to make the rotation work, every time.
Avoid These Mistakes When Looking For The Right Dog Toys
[dropcap class=”topichead”]Size Matters.[/dropcap] Dogs come in different shapes and sizes. So are dog toys. It only means you have to consider what toy size is appropriate for your dog. Small toys for small dogs and big toys for big dogs.
The bottom line is to choose a toy size that your dog will not swallow easily, or finds it hard to secure a bite. It’s okay if it’s a little too big for your dog to bite on but not the other way around. Money may be wasted, but at least there’s no risk of choking to endanger your dog’s life.
When in Doubt, Always Size Up for Safety.
– The KONG Company Toy Size Guide
Get the right size toy, always.
[dropcap class=”topichead”]Hard Or Soft?[/dropcap] Again it depends on your dog’s age and breed. If it’s a new puppy, especially during the teething period, hard or durable toys will be better. As the teething is usually a painful process which will last for about 1 to 3 months, a hard chew toy can help alleviate the discomfort of sore gums.
A soft toy would be too easy for a puppy to shred off chunks and they tend to swallow. So be careful with these soft toys around puppies. The best is, don’t give it to them at all when they are teething.
And keep them away from your expensive leather sofa, wood furniture, and shoes. Any time you notice them chewing and nipping on furniture or household items, pull them away and give them the chew toy. They will learn what is not meant to go between their teeth growing up.
If it’s an old or adult dog, as generally, they are less destructive, softer toys are more appropriate for them. They are not likely to swallow as they know there is much better tasting real food around.
But do keep a mix of hard and soft toys in the house. An adult will also go for a hard chew, and it’s not a bad thing as hard chewing helps maintain their oral hygiene and dental health.
[dropcap class=”topichead”]Too Low Budget.[/dropcap] While it is not necessary to splurge on dog toys, not spending enough will only get you that far with your dog — under stimulation of its mental and physical wellbeing.
However, this would not be a problem if you have the time and energy to keep it company with lots of activities both in and out of the house. And that honestly, is the best way forward. You are your dog’s best treat dispensing and interactive toy.
But you still need some good chew toys to keep it away from gnawing your furniture and household items. And don’t go for some cheap plastic chew toys that may contain Phthalates and Bisphenol A (BPA). Especially those bought from overseas where the regulation on pet toys are less stringent.
[dropcap class=”topichead”]Too Few Varieties.[/dropcap] As mentioned earlier dogs can get bored easily, especially during puppyhood, when they are the most active. So offering a good choice of toys can keep the little paws busy, and at the same time cater to their instinct.
With a good toy range at hand, you can use them to start basic obedience training. Also, training with toys can correct some of the drawbacks of food-only training. And yes, a puppy even at a tender age, began to learn from every experience.
A good range of toys should at least include chews, treat-dispensers, and interactive toys. You can add to the range with other improvisations that are safe and with your supervision.
Don’t deprive your dog of play stuff. A dog that grew up with not many toys around may develop behavioral problems later. They become unmotivated, lazy, lacking in confidence, and have less trust with humans (including You).
Types Of Dog Toys For Various Purpose
Going through these dog toys, you will understand why you need to invest a little for the benefit of your canine buddy. It ranges from plush soft toys for comforting a tired dog to training toys for discipline and motor control conditioning.
[dropcap class=”topichead”]Comfort Toys.[/dropcap] The most common and popular toy in this category are the soft plush toys. Perfect for a tired puppy to cuddle and as a pillow to rest its weary body. Even an adult dog can use a soft toy to feel safe and secure during their nap.
There is no lack of varieties of soft toys; from stuffed bones, animals to plain simple pillows and bolsters. It is usually made of fleece or fabric and safe material for stuffing.
And some soft toys are designed to deal with anxiety and to calm down a hyperactive puppy. It comes with a cover and removable packet fill with buckwheat. Especially useful during the winter months.
You briefly heat the buckwheat packet in a microwave then stuff it back into the cover and give it to your dog to cuddle. The soothing warm will calm the nerves in no time, and with a gentle massage around the neck, all mischievous acts will be down to a halt.
The only thing to note is, remember to take away the soft toys when your puppy just woke up from a deep slumber. You know what it will likely do to the toy when it is feeling fresh and ready to rock the house. Replace the plushie with hard and durable toys, or interactive ones.
[dropcap class=”topichead”]Treat Dispensing Interactive Toys.[/dropcap] This toy type comes in many different forms. But usually, it has a treat dispensing feature which encourages exploring and puzzle solving to get rewarded. Great for mental stimulation and extend play time when you are busy or away from your dog.
They can be made of rubber, plastic and even canvas in all shapes and sizes. But don’t worry about the toy material, they are safe if you purchase from a reliable source and manufacturer. And remember to pick the right size toys not only for safety but also able to hold more treats so that you can be flexible with your dog’s play time.
The insatiable little puppy will always pick this toy first, and adult dogs love it too. The scent of food is irresistible for them to ignore. So this is a must-have dog toy. Every home with a dog should have at least one in the house to contain those paws and canine teeth from mischief.
But do take caution of becoming over-reliance on the treat dispensing part to keep your dog from boredom. You may have to balance out the meal portion if you find yourself over dispensing the treats way too often. The last thing you want is an overfed dog resulting in obesity, that will be detrimental to its health.
[dropcap class=”topichead”]More Interactive Toys.[/dropcap] While the treat dispensing toys are great to keep your dog busy, you should also use other non-dispensing toys to prevent your dog from being conditioned into a ‘no food, no play’ mentality. It will help expand your dog’s learning capability instead of motivated by food only.
Such interactive dog toys are multifaceted that serve to stimulate the senses, and some encourage physical exercises like pulling, chasing, and fetching, which is good in developing their agility.
It can be as simple as a color ball or rope to those motion-activated toys that will light up (blinking lights), makes a sound or vibrates. And it comes in various bite-size, material, and shape to cater for the different dog breed and size.
But do be careful with those electronic soft toys that will vibrate or with sound when touch. A destructive dog can easily rip them apart and start chewing the electronic parts and might swallow them thinking it is food. Your presence is needed to play it safe with such toys.
[dropcap class=”topichead”]Training Toys.[/dropcap] There isn’t a clear definition of what actually makes a training toy. Any toy that serves to motivate or induce a set reaction is a good training toy. It can be as simple as a fetch stick or branches, frisbee, a ball, and rope.
It all depends on the training type you are rolling out. You can use its favorite toy for self-control or obedience training: especially the treat dispensing type or its favorite chew. Of course, with treats in your hand is always an effective way to control (any dog), you should try not to rely too much on such treat-for-instruction training.
Interactive toys like those described above can help with motor-control training. And if your dog is a thinker, expose it to more puzzle toys to strengthen on its cognitive and interacting skills. Everybody simply loves a smart dog.
And not forgetting your dog, regardless if its a puppy or an adult, needs the daily stretch and muscle toning. Walk your dog daily if you can carve out just 15 minutes from your busy schedule, and let it ‘run wild’ outside on the weekend for a longer period. A fetch toy will be ideal for all outdoor plays and activities.
Ample exercises and play time is important for a dog as it will lead to increased confidence, less stress, and a much happier dog.