Dogs are a lot like children. If you don’t give them something fun to do, they will make their own fun — and often not in ways you approve of. What’s more, dogs that get plenty of mental exercise are happier, calmer, quieter, and less likely to rummage through the trash or attack the couch cushions. All terrific reasons your dog should have toys. And not just one or two — dogs have distinctly individual preferences depending on the day, time and situation. Do a little detective work and find out what truly tickles your dog. The best toys have a purpose. They deliver food, present a challenge, squeak, or make themselves interesting in some unique way. If you are new to the world of dog toys, here are some classics to begin with: rope toys, plush toys (with or without squeakers), Hide-A-Bone (squirrel, bird), tricky treat balls, soft rubber toys (vinyl and hard rubber toys like Kong and Nyla bones). Once you have a good selection, develop a toy strategy. Designate a popular toy for use only during alone time, like times when you need to confine him/her to a crate, area or room. Then, rotate the other toys daily to keep the novelty factor high.
Some dogs are dissectors — or toy destroyers. Messy as it can be, it’s perfectly normal canine behavior — dogs are predators, after all, and need an outlet for those pounce-and-shake urges. If your dog is a dissector, provide legitimate things for her to attack and let her indulge her hobby. Don’t worry: she won’t graduate to your possessions. Spare your budget by gathering the stuffing and putting it back in the toy — your dog doesn’t care if she splits apart the same stuffed alligator seven times. Or use hand-me-down stuffed animals that your children, or friends’ children, are happy to donate. Or buy in bulk from a resale outlet (take care to remove choking hazards like plastic eyes, buttons and the like). Many pet supply stores sell squeakers by the bag; insert as you like to provide added entertainment and allure. Remember, dogs get busy. Make it with toys, not trouble.
Reprinted from City Dog Country Dog News, with permission.
City Dog Country Dog specializes in training solutions that build quality of life for dogs and their people. Services include private consultations; Board & Train; Play & Train classes; Vacation Training Retreats and the annual Call of the Wild Dog Camp. Bringing together some of the best in local dog trainers, sports instructors, dog enthusiasts and their dogs, the camp is held in the beautiful Yachats River Valley (Central Oregon Coast). At last year’s camp nearly 50 canine and human campers enjoyed nature games, dog sports, hikes, river swimming, creek paddles, canine massage, health and infoSessions, training workshops, and more. Details citydogcountrydogtraining.com