Choosing and caring for dog toys

Dog toys are not only great fun; they also provide mental and physical stimulation, and active exercise for your dog. They can also relieve boredom and solve behavioural problems. They strengthen the bond between you and your pet, and you can gain pleasure from watching them playing and enjoying life.

There are many different types to choose from, and they bring different benefits.

Interactive toys
These mainly comprise ‘fetch’ toys, like balls and plastic ‘Frisbee’ discs. They’re great to use in wide, open spaces such as parks, and give your dog lots of exercise as they chase after them and proudly bring them back to you. Some oddly shaped rubber ones bounce unpredictably in different directions, making the chase even more fun. This category also includes ‘tug-of-war’ toys, such as ropes or plastic, and rubber double-loop types – but there are a couple of things to remember when using them.
Always be the one to initiate the game, and control it. Stop playing if your dog gets too carried away, or shows signs of aggression, by you letting go and walking away as if you have something more interesting to do. Unpredictable actions like this will make your dog think!

Treat dispensing toys
These toys challenge dogs to work for treats, keep them occupied, teach them patience and prevent boredom. You can either throw for them to chase, or just leave them alone to play with. Some are novelty or bone-shaped, and some include nylon bristles. These not only promote gnawing and chewing, but also keep their teeth and gums healthy in the process.

Comfort toys
Soft stuffed toys are good, particularly for young puppies and gun dogs which retrieve, but they may not be suitable for destructive dogs. They can also get destroyed quickly, leaving their stuffing all over your pet’s bed or your carpet. Also, there is the danger of the contents being ingested by your pet, so check the condition of them regularly.

It’s advisable to keep all your pet’s toys contained in a box so that they don’t litter your home. Select a few with a variety of use for them to play with, and then periodically rotate them, so your pet has something different to play with. If they have a favourite, you should leave it out all the time.

Make sure you wash the toys regularly, as a toybox filled with drool-laden toys means it’s time for a quick freshening up.

For cloth toys, wash on cold in your washing machine. Once done, remove and squeeze the remaining water out. If you have the ability to line dry, pin them up and give them an hour or so in the sun to dry out.

Placing them in the dryer is fine, just make sure it’s on low heat, and if you’re worried about them, place them inside a pillowcase.

If you have plastic toys, use a solution of 50% white vinegar to 50% water and allow them to soak, then use a nailbrush to scrub the dirt off. Rinse with fresh water and allow to dry, or you can put them in the dishwasher with their bowls. Tennis balls can go in the wash.

Whatever type of toys you choose for your dog, the rewards will be well worth it as you enjoy having lots of fun together, and develop a deeper understanding of each other.

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Filed under Dogs, Pets, Treats