How to Choose Safe Toys for Your Dog
The television remote may have a satisfying crunch to it, but it’s not a safe toy for your dog. She doesn’t know that. The key is supervision: you are the pack leader, and your dog deserves boundaries. It’s up to you to choose safe, appropriate dog toys, make them available to her, and to supervise her play.
Why do dogs need toys?
Dog toys are not a luxury, but a necessity: they help stave off boredom, provide comfort, and help prevent problem behaviors. Toys also instigate the important business of playtime and help train younger dogs and puppies. Like children, dogs have oral fixations—everything goes into their mouths. It is how they learn about their world and satisfy strong instincts. And some breeds, including our beloved Labradors, also have a chewing fixation. Your obligation as her revered human is to help your dog learn to put sanctioned objects into her mouth to suck and chew, rather than “training out” this intuitive behavior.
What to Consider When You Choose a Dog Toy
Choose These Safe Dog Toys:
These dog toys encourage healthy play and sharing the fun. Choose:
Playing hide-and-seek with a favorite toy is an excellent example of an active, stimulating, and interactive game.
Task-oriented dog toys and play (find the toy, get treats out of the toy) can release pent-up energy and alleviate the stress that comes from confinement, isolation, and boredom. Choose:
Soft dog toys can satisfy gentler “babying” instincts. Choose:
Keep a variety of dog toys on hand and rotate them. You can also make toys more appealing by marinating them in bouillon, smearing peanut butter on them, or freezing them with Kool-Aid or yogurt inside.
Avoid These Unsafe Dog Toys:
Most of the toys you give your dog should be interactive; she yearns for time with you more than anything, and safe, interactive play will foster the important bond you share. Playing with your dog and a thoughtfully chosen toy can also aid in training and help teach young dogs socialization while discouraging undesirable behavior (jumping up and mouthing, for example). But even the best dog toy alone can never replace the joy that comes from playtime with her beloved human.
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