You want to be your dog’s best friend? Make sure her toy box is well stocked with a variety of fun gadgets for both indoor and outdoor games and some interactive playthings to keep her amused when she is home alone.
Today, canine toy trends follow consumer demands for high-end, high-tech gadgets: they appeal to both people and canines and are available in as many sizes and shapes as there are dogs. To ensure your pup has a treasure chest to provide hours of entertainment, make sure you have goodies that provide action, distraction and comfort. Boredom can lead to behavioral problems, whereas a happy, playful dog is a content and well-adjusted one.
Playing the Safety Game
Playtime is all about the fun stuff, but make sure the toys you select are appropriate for your dog’s size, activity level, and behavior. Items that are too small can be easily swallowed or, at worst, get stuck in your pet’s throat. Avoid toys with glued-on decorations, such as button eyes and decals; or remove them before you share the toy with your dog. Be extra wary of squeaky plush toys because the curious dog will devour the toy deliberately to find the “squeaker.” This part, once separated from its material casing, can be dangerous to your dog.
Very few toys are totally indestructible, so it’s a good idea to go through the toy box regularly and discard items that have seen better days. If your dog is particularly fond of a certain toy, buy duplicates to replace the tattered ones.
Ready, Steady, Go!
Ever wonder if Sir Isaac Newton had the help of his dog when he came up with the third law of motion? “For every action,” he stated, “there is a reaction.” To test this law of physics, just take your dog to a park and throw an action toy such as a tennis ball or Frisbee far into the distance. The reaction is almost immediate. Any dog with an ounce of retriever in her will fetch, chew, and then drop it down at your feet with barking instructions to do it all over again.
You can find a variety of fun-shaped rubber toys, tires, rope ties and other hard items that light up when thrown that will delight your dog endlessly. Remember to keep your end of the bargain by throwing these toys in an area where it’s easy for your pet to retrieve them. If you are physically unable to throw toys, there are gadgets similar to baseball pitching machines that will do the job for you.
From Action to Distraction
All dogs love distraction toys. Like the classic Kong, these toys are traditionally stuffed with treats or tidbits of your dog’s favorite biscuits or even a good dollop of peanut butter. Their hard rubber shapes can keep your pal busy for hours; they are especially beneficial for your dog when you are at work or out shopping. There are even treat balls that allow you to record a message that plays repeatedly when rolled around.
The Comfort Zone
Soft stuffed toys have a double role in the toy box. For some dogs, they offer comfort — a kind of security blanket for pets that need reassurance. Other dogs regard squeaky chickens and woolly sheep as “prey toys” and will immediately set about shaking and subduing them. You can bet your huntress will bring that chicken and drop it at your feet when it’s soaking wet and full of drool!
The Merry Go Round
Make sure your pet has a nice sturdy box where she can easily access her favorite toys. To keep the games fresh and fun, it’s a good idea to rotate the toys on a weekly basis so only a limited number are available at any one time, except, of course, for that special toy your dog takes everywhere. Playtime is the highlight of every dog’s day, and few know when to stop. That’s where the expression “dog tired” comes from!