Toys aren't all fun and games
Sure, buying toys is bunches of fun, but make sure you're buying the right toy for the game. There are all kinds of toys out there: chew toys, puzzle toys, plush toys, fetch toys, toys for our feline friends, etc.; not every toy is right for every type of play.
Buying the correct toys will ensure that you get more life out of the toy (we actually like it when you save money), more fun for your pet, and less headaches (or even safety risks). Here are a few details on some of the major toy categories out there, and some basics about how they should be used.
Training your dog on how to play with toys
This may sound silly, but it's very possible to 'teach' your dog not to do certain things to toys that aren't designed to withstand heavy chewing.
By correcting 'scissor teeth' and 'thread picking', for example, you can significantly extend the life of your dog's toys and make them safer too.
So your dog likes to lay down and destroy stuff the way your boss likes cheap scotch? These are the toys for you.
If you've already hit up the Treats section of the LC, then you noticed that we identified many of these as a sort of treat / toy hybrid. Nylabones and Benebones are some of the harder bone-shaped toys, and we can't forget rope toys.
Many of these toys come in a variety of styles, including Nylabones with all sorts of knobs, ridges, etc. to clean teeth and massage gums. Also falling under the chew toy category are softer versions for puppies and teething, and even senior dog chews that aren't quite as hard on older teeth.
Remember that dogs have a natural inclination to chew--they need to do it, for both emotional and physical wellbeing. Many pet owners provide toys for chewing that are not designed for this purpose. While it's certainly okay if your dog chews up a plush toy (many of us love watching a dog destroy a toy), just be aware that more supervision is necessary to ensure that large pieces of the toy aren't ingested.
Many of you might have noticed that there was no mention of Kongs or similar types of toys in the Chew Toys section. You guessed it, Kongs and other rubber toys, and also latex, fire hose, and plastic toys are not really chew toys.
Certainly many of these toys are designed to withstand chewing, even lots of chewing, if the dog is left unattended for awhile. Another great way to extend the life of these toys is to hide treats inside them (many of these toys have places for them), which can distract your dog from the obsession with 'killing' the toy.
If you've never bought a puzzle toy for your dog, then you're missing out. Toys like the Kong Wobbler are great ways to keep your dog busy for hours.
These toys are generally tougher to destroy, because they're made of tough materials and also keep the dog focused on playing the puzzle game, rather than just killing the toy. Puzzle toys are also a great way to provide mental exercise, which would likely surprise you with its effectiveness in wearing out your dog!
Ahhh plush toys. What dog doesn't love ripping these apart and pulling out the squeakers and stuffing? Mighty Dog and Duraforce are some of the longest lasting cloth toys (but NOT indestructible!!!). Kong, Hear Doggy and Zippy Paws have amazing selections of plush toys.
Plush toys are great, as long as pet owners understand that they will get destroyed (in fact no toy is indestructible), and that they're not made to be chewed on. We also strongly recommend supervision while your dog plays with plush toys, as they can ingest large parts of the toy at a time, or eat the stuffing or squeakers as well. If your dog seems to play a little too aggressively with the toy, you can also take it away for awhile--which we highly recommend if you need to work on other behavior issues.
To help extend the life of your toy investment, we offer tougher-than-average plush toys, toys without stuffing, and other variations and alternatives here at Joey's. With improved toy options, supervision, and training / discipline, you can dramatically improve the life and fun-factor that plush toys provide.
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