What Dogs Need From Us: Toys for Fun and Exercise

dog-cute-adorable-playMama Sally:  Toys really do have a very good purpose in a dog’s life!  We generally get toys for our dogs to make our dogs happy.  That’s always a good thing!  But toys do more than just make dogs happy!  Here are a few other things that toys can do for your dog that you might not have realized:

  • Toys stimulate a dog’s thinking.
  • Puzzle toys or treat dispensers help dogs learn to problem solve which stimulates their mind.
  • Toys are a great way to engage healthy interactions between a dog and humans.
  • Toys help relieve a dog’s very real need to chew!
  • Toys relieve a dog’s boredom.
  • Using a treat dispensing toy at mealtime can slow down a dog’s speed of eating.
  • Toys can provide a vehicle for some really great physical exercise in the yard or park.
  • Toys can help break the ice for fearful dogs in meeting new people.

I have to say that I often took simple toys for granted until Rugby came to live with me.  I will never,  ever forget the look on his face when he came into the living room his first night and saw five toys on the floor for him.  He looked at them and looked at me,his little chocolate drop eyes shining bright, a big smile on his face, and his tail wagging like nobody’s business!  He carefully sniffed them over, going from one to another until he decided which toy he would play with first.  And then after a short time, he tried the next, and the next until he had broken them all in.  I’m not sure he had ever owned toys of his very own until he came to my house.IMG_0771

All toys aren’t created equally, and you do want to get appropriate toys that are the right size and strength for your individual dog.  Also remember that puppies go through many different growth stages.  What doesn’t work at his current age, may work for your dog later on.  Young puppies aren’t always interested in very hard chew bones, typically.  However, once they have their big kid teeth, those hard chew toys are much more appealing, and help to set their molars in the jaw.

I also recommend doing a toy rotation, so that your dog doesn’t get bored with his toys.  Give him a few different toys every day so that he’s never seeing the same toys over and over.  Aim to have at least 12-15, so that you’ve got enough to give him 3-5 every day….depending upon his age.  If you have a teething puppy, by all means, give him lots of toys so he’s not chewing the house down!  Keeping your dog from toy boredom can help keep him from getting into your things at home!

Try a variety of different types of toys, and see what your dog gravitates to as his favorites.  Carefully supervise all toy play and be sure that your dog is treating the toys appropriately.  I’m not a fan of letting dogs chew up soft toys, or gut them and de-stuff them, because they may swallow part of the stuffing which can get lodged in their gut.  That can result in a costly and dangerous surgery!  I’ll let Rugby tell you how I taught him how to play gently with his stuffed toys.

Rugby James:  When I commed to the Mama’s house, she gived me five toys to start.  There was a Nylabone, a tennis ball, a Kong toy, a soft squeaky toy, and a rope ball toy.  I chewed up the rope toy in a couple of days, and the Mama hadda frow it away on account of she didn’t want me to eat the strings and get sick.  She buyed me a bigger one, but I had that one destroyed in less than a week, so I doesn’t getsa have them anymore.

Rugby baby picI lubs Nylabones, and I chews them every night just before bedtime.  I like tennis balls but I like toys that squeak or make noise a whole lot more.  Kong toys are fun when they bounce around, but I’d rather fetch sumping else, and I like Kongs when they has goodies in them!

So….when it commed to the soft squeaky toy, first of all, I chewed the face off.  I started wif the nose, and then one ear and the tail and a paw.  The Mama was afraid I would swallow the pieces and get sick.  So she changed fings.

She buyed me soft toys what was just very basic shapes….a bone, a gingerbread man, a ball, stuff like that.  So there wasn’t any little pieces to chew off and eat.  So….I started fussing wif the tags what was sewn on a seam.  Then the Mama cut off the tags.  I still fussed at the seam where they was, so the Mama taked the toys away from me, and I didn’t getsa have them all the time.

She letted me play wif the soft squeaky toys when we were playing fetch in the house.  I really lubbed to fetch a big much when I was a lil pupper and had lotsa extra energies.  Because I didn’t getsa see those toys all the time, I really wanted to fetch them and play wif them.  It helped my fetch game get better.  When the Mama finished playing fetch wif me, the toys went away until the next time that we played.

After a few months of this, the Mama tried letting me have one soft toy to keep.  She gived it to me and sayed, “Don’t tear it up!”  When I started to fuss at the tag seam again, she taked the toy, and she sprayed “Bitter Apple” on it so it tasted nasty in that one spot so I wouldn’t chew it.

Now I gotsa be perfectly honest wif you and tell you that I got a lil bit irritated wif her over this stuff.  That really maked me mad.  She ruined a perfectly good toy by spraying yucky stuff on it, so I didn’t wanna play wif that toy and I pouted.  I was mad.

After a while, the yucky stuff wore off, so I could start to fuss at the seam again, and the Mama was always watching me wif my toys!  She would say, “Don’t tear it up!”   If I didn’t listen to her, she taked the toy and sprayed the yucky stuff on it again and gived it back telling me, “Don’t tear it up!”  Anytime she couldn’t watch me wif the toy, she putted it away sos I didn’t getsa play wif it.

Over several months, I tried different fings to see what the rules were.  I finally figured out that the Mama would let me mouth the toy till it squeaked, but I didn’t getsa tear it up at the seams.  It taked me a while to figure it all out, but eventually I learned how to play gently wif my soft toys, so I getsa keep them all the time now.  The Mama just makes them take turns wif me on account of I fink she doesn’t want any of them to have hurted feelings if I doesn’t play wif them.

And mostly, I fink this is a big reason why my lil polka dottie piggies last so long.  I doesn’t play ruff wif my toys at all, and then they last a long, long, long time!!

RJ.blue pig



    • Sally says

      People never think about dogs just getting bored with their toys. They just go buy new toys when all they need to do is just rotate the ones that they have!! 😀


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