Dog Toys - All Dog Toys Are Not Created Equal
Toys can be a great way for people to interact with their dogs. They can be used for play time, training and comfort. There are several types of constuction used to make dog toys. Many are not good for your pets. Anything made of cheap nylon or plastic that can be chewed off and ingested is probably not going to be your best choice. This guide examines some of the types of toys available and which ones work for my dogs.
Treat Filled Toys
Products like the Kong rubber dog chew are generally a good investment. They come in several different sizes and include softer rubber for puppies. These toys also come in a variety of shapes, which allow treats to be inserted. You can put food treats inside the Kong ball, which will be quickly consumed, or you can spray a flavored filling inside to really grab their interest. If you have a dog that loves his Kong, it can also be used as a reward during training. I use another variety, which is a football shaped ball with rubber netting. I force a treat inside the ball and the dogs really have to work at it to get the treat out. These hard rubber toys generally last a long time, but should be replaced when they start showing signs of wear, to avoid accidental ingestion.
Animals are soft and are often comfort toys. They generally have a squeek device inside, but my dogs prefer the crinkle sound. This inside is made of thin plastic, like a flat plastic bottle. The animal makes an unusual sound that makes the dogs go nuts. They love to play with the crinkle toys. They also use some of these stuffed animal toys like a pacifier. They will sit around just licking the toy. Rather than having comfort in a toy like this, your dog may exhibit their kill instinct. I have a zhu-zhu that my dogs want to kill. I don't let them play with it, because I don't want to encourage that behavior.
Dogs love balls. At least most of them do. They make tiny tennis balls that are small enough for my Pomeranians to chase around and carry in their mouths. The bigger dogs get hard rubber Kong balls because they will quickly tear a tennis ball in half with their teeth. I don't like to purchase any toys that my dogs can destroy (at least not quickly) because the pieces ultimately end up inside them. I am not certain that the insides of a tennis ball made in China is going to do my dog a whole lot of good digestively. Balls are fun for interaction if your dog likes to retrieve.
There are different schools of thought regarding pull toys. Some people say that engaging in tug of war with your dog induces a power struggle. More likely, it will increase their destructiveness. That is when you will start seeing them jerk their heads violently from side to side and maybe even bare teeth and growl. I don't like these toys for an entirely different reason. They are almost all made of nylon and rope. My large breed dogs will destroy a nylon pull toy quicker than you could throw a Kong ball. They don't last long with my dogs and the pieces end up inside their stomach.
Frisbees are great for retrievers, they allow you to interact with your pet, and they can be fun. But only if you do not allow your dog to own the frisbee. I, personally, don't like them. My Poms are too small to chase a frisbee and my large dogs would eat it, if given the chance. The plastic construction of the frisbee will break off in rigid chunks that cannot be digested. I would rather not take my dog to the vet over a two dollar toy. If your dog is well trained with a frisbee, they can be great fun. So some toys depend on the amount of supervision given.
If you have dogs, play-time can be great fun. Some toys allow for interaction, while other toys allow you to give your dog some entertainment without requiring your constant supervision. My dogs like a variety of these toys but seem to mostly enjoy their crinkly stuffed animals. My female Pom enjoys one of those balls with the raccoon tail, which she uses like a pacifier. When purchasing a toy for your dogs, consider how it will be used and what materials were used in its construction. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. And vet bills are not cheap. It is better to spend a couple dollars more on a well-constructed toy that will last longer and avoid unnecessary vet visits.
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