There are many dog toys available. So many in fact, that it can make it confusing to know how to best invest your money. When purchasing toys it is important to understand what use the toy was intended for. Toys are created for either play (tossing, fetching, catching etc.) or for chewing. CHEW TOYS: Dogs need to chew. Chewing activity is a natural way for dogs to relieve boredom, stress, teething pain and anxiety. Training your dog to chew on appropriate objects is up to you. The key way to do this is to provide appropriate chew toys and make them interesting to your dog. Chew toys are designed to be tough and durable. Purchasing a number of good chew toys is well worth the investment. Your dog will appreciate variety, so purchase toys of different scents, sizes and shapes. Help maintain your dog’s interest in the toys by rotating access to them. Put two or three toys down for a couple days, then pick these up and put two or three different ones down. Initially you may need to help your dog develop an interest in his chew toys. Do this by playing with or “teasing” your dog with the toy. Move the toy in quick, jerky motions in front of the dog, give it to him for a moment, take it away and repeat. Make your dog believe this is something to be interested in. Don’t just bring it home, open it and toss it on the floor. Also keep the toys clean by hand washing or placing on the top rack of the dishwasher. Recommended Chew Toys:

Nylabone® – These are are very durable. They come scented and flavored. In general dogs seem to prefer the more irregular shapes rather than just the bone shape. However, once the bone has been chewed on it seems to be more desirable to your dog. Those with “nubs” or bumpy texture are usually well accepted. I have found that many dogs are fond of the dinosaur shapes. Gumabone® – These are a bit softer than the Nylabone, and usually preferred by puppies. They are not designed for strong adult chewing. Again the irregular shapes are most popular. Kong® – These are very hard rubber and are similar in shape to a snowman. The hollow center allows you to put peanut butter or other treats inside to create a great pooch pacifier. You can also plug the smaller hole, pour in chicken broth or water and freeze. This is great for teething pain but give the Kong to your dog on an easy to clean up floor. Rag or Floss Bones – These offer your dog a softer texture for chewing. They can be

put in a washing machine for easy cleanup. In general, chew toys should be hard and difficult to destroy or tear apart. Make sure you purchase a size that is appropriate for your dog. A toy that is too small may be dangerous. Rawhides, pig ears, hooves and other such animal products are not chew toys. Give careful consideration about giving these items to your dog. These are animal products; therefore they smell very similar to leather products in your home that you may not want your dog to chew on. If you own leather handbags, shoes, briefcases, or furniture you may want to reconsider allowing your dog to chew on rawhides, etc. Also, currently there is no regulation regarding the manufacture of these items. Most of these are created by scraps that fell on the slaughter house floor, are shipped off and dried, without any sterilization process. Later they sit in large bins in pet stores, where a multitude of other dogs and people may have handled them prior to you purchasing one. Dogs can experience digestive upsets from ingesting these products.

PLAY TOYS: Play toys are more interactive. They are meant for tossing, catching, pouncing, etc, and bring the most joy to your dog if they involve you. These are not designed to stand up to tough, vigorous chewing activity. Therefore, for many of these toys it is best to pick them up and put them away after you play.

Recommended Play Toys

Balls – Balls are made from a variety of materials and come in many sizes. Chose balls that your dog can not easily destroy, such as those out of hard rubber. Tennis balls are great for playing but don’t let your dog chew on them. The green fuzzy stuff gets caught in their teeth and may be swallowed. Many dogs enjoy playing with Jolly Balls, which are larger and meant to be rolled around and pounced on. Disks – Disks also come in a variety of sizes and materials. I feel it is best to choose a disk made of softer materials, such as the Floppy Disk. Catching a hard disk could cause tooth damage. Stuffed Toys – The choices are many when it comes to stuffed toys. Many come with a squeaker inside, which may stimulate the dog to dissect it. If your dog does this, you may want to find a stuffed toy without the noise maker. For your dog’s safety, chose toys without button type eyes, or snip the buttons off. Latex and Vinyl Toys – Again, so many choices. Often these are quit inexpensive and many are down right cheap. This is because the construction is generally poor. These toys can be easily torn, ripped and shredded and therefore swallowed. If you give these type toys to your dog it is usually best to supervise play and pick them up when you’re done.

Anytime a toy becomes torn, it is time to throw it away. Always think of your dog’s safety. Clean up toys occasionally with mild dishwashing liquid. To help organize the clutter, consider creating a toy box for your pooch. Teach your dog where to find his toys and even to help pick them up!

PLAYTIME: When you play with your dog, keep in mind you do not want to encourage negative activities. It is easy to get your dog over excited and he may begin jumping on you or start play biting. If your dog’s teeth touch you at any time, stop playing immediately and abruptly. Wait a few minutes and then resume play. Your dog will get the message that the fun stops if his teeth touch you.

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