You know dog toys are a good idea: a bored dog will chew up your favorite shoes, or even worse, your couch. Dog toys help with the separation anxiety that may occur with you at work all day, will keep your dog exercised, both body and brain, and some toys even help protect or clean his teeth. Plus, the bonding you experience playing with your dog with his toys is not only important for you and the dog, it’s downright fun!
Here are a few tips when it comes to choosing and using dog toys.
DON’T GIVE YOUR DOG SHOES OR OLD CLOTHES AS TOYS: You may feel you are giving him something that will comfort him in your absence, but the dog will learn that it’s OK to chew up your old shoes, and be unable to distinguish between your old and new items! It is harder to break a bad behavior than never to let it begin in the first place.
GET TOYS THAT ARE ROBUST: Bones, hard rubber chew toys, strong rope for chewing, and soft rubber Frisbees are good toys made to last. Watch out and get rid of any that may be falling into pieces small enough for the dog to swallow. Try a tennis ball, which bounces, has a texture they may like, and is great for throwing. Some dogs love a soft squishy toy as well, which they can carry around, or “mother.” Add a fun, responsive squeaky toy, and you have a good variety.
GET SIZE-APPROPRIATE TOYS: Your little Dachshund won’t be able to get his mouth around a large ball that is just right for a Mastiff! And don’t get something small for your larger dog; he may swallow a toy that is just right for a tiny dog. If you have dogs of different sizes, you will need to take some precautions.
DON’T LET YOUR DOG PLAY WITH STRING, RUBBER BANDS, OR RIBBONS: He may be fascinated by these, but they are not safe. They can be swallowed, and create some expensive and dangerous havoc in the digestive tract.
REMEMBER TO GET INVOLVED: Pull on that rope and get your dog involved in a tug-of-war. Throw the tennis ball and encourage him to retrieve it (unless you want or need more exercise yourself… lol) Use the toys in your playtime together, and he will be more apt to play with them when you are away, as well.
MIX ‘EM UP: Dogs get bored easily, and will really benefit from a variety of toys. It is a good idea to rotate the ones you give him, or leave with him.
Bottom line: switch them around, check the toys often for signs of deterioration, and get him something new and interesting at regular intervals.