Whether it’s Christmas, Birthdays, or just because, we as pet parents want to ensure that our pets stay happy and active by buying them toys they love and enjoy. When it comes to dog toys, there are so many to choose from and it is hard to figure out what’s safe and not safe for a dog. With all the information out there on the internet, a lot of articles express why not to get this dog toy or why not to get that dog toy. If we take this advice, then that eliminates pretty much every dog toy out there that your dog can play with. What pet parents need to be trained and educated on is how to properly deal with dog toys they give their pets. Even the safest dog toy is not 100% safe for a pet, so here are some things we feel that pet parents need to know about dog toys when buying or giving them to their pet.
Monitoring your pet with a new toy is one of the most crucial things a pet parent should do. It will help you to understand your pets chewing habits, how long certain dog toys last, and what types of toys to get in the future. If your pet destroys a toy in a matter of minutes, then you know to either not buy that type of toy again, or this is a toy that requires my full attention and will have to be put away when you can’t monitor them with it. As the dog starts to tear apart the toy, you want to be there to take those pieces away from them and throw them in the trash, or you can save them to restitch the toy to make them last longer. Be sure that your dog is trained and proficient at the “Drop it” command in the event you have to take the toy away or pieces of it away from your pet.
With toys your pet does not destroy, you still want to check these toys often to ensure the integrity of the material has not been compromised. As stated above, even the safest dog toy is not 100% safe. You will want to make sure that the materials are holding up if you intend to leave this type of toy out for your pet when you can’t monitor them with it. Once the material(s) begin to show cracks or tears, you will either need to replace these toys with a new one, or the toy now becomes a monitored toy they play with in your presence.
Size and Chewing style are other key factors you have to consider when purchasing a toy for your pet. If a toy is too small, your pet will have the ability to easily swallow the toy or other parts of the toy. This can cause a blockage of the airway or intestine. Another reason why you want to buy size appropriate dog toys is due to their teeth. Dogs usually tend to use their premolars and molars to chew on toys, as they use them to tear/shear their prey this way. These teeth are located further back in the mouth, so you will want to look for toys appropriately sized so your dog can’t work the toy to the back of their jaw.
Most pet parents don’t know that tug toys or rope toys should only be used for tug play. These toys are not made for or intended to be left out for your pet to chew on. If these types of toys are left out, your pet can easily tear apart the material and ingest it causing a blockage. These toys should always be put away after play time has ended and where your pet is not able to get to it. And yes, playing tug-of-war is a great game to play with your dog, contrary to other people’s beliefs. When trained properly, it can help with impulse control, build confidence within your dog, build trust between you and your pet, as well as helps to build a really good bond.
Ah, the most heated debate. I’m sure you have probably seen, heard, or read about this topic and how most people and vets discourage you from giving your pet chews, rawhides, and bones. The reason why they discourage it is because most pet parents do not follow good safety protocol when giving their pets these types of items. When given to a pet properly, it can help keep your pet busy for a period of time and promote good oral health.
It is also suggested that if you do give your pet these types of items that you ensure that they are made in the USA. They may be a little pricey, but they will not have any chemicals on them as to where the ones from other countries do have chemicals on them. If you want to give your dog bones, it is suggested to give them raw bones not cooked. Cooked bones can break teeth, splinter which can cause perforation of the intestine or throat, or even obstruction which can result in surgery.
First you HAVE to monitor your pet with these items. These items are not intended to be left out and unsupervised. If you cannot monitor your pet with it, then you need to put it away and in a safe place to where your pet cannot get to it. Make sure your dog is proficient at the “Drop it” command in the event you have to take the item away from your pet or pieces of it.
If your pet begins to make an area soft to where it can tear off big pieces (chews/rawhides), then you either need to remove the item from your pet until it can get hard again, or simply just cut off the soft area and throw it away. Another reason why you do not want to allow your pet to break off and swallow big pieces is due to the dog’s inability to digest it like it would with its food. It can potentially cause an esophageal or intestinal obstruction, or it could last for months inside of your pet’s stomach causing gastrointestinal issues.
If you are a pet parent who has an aggressive chewer or destroys toys, then you already know how difficult it is to have and own dog toys for your pet. I am also sure that you are probably aware of the hazards of buying a harder toy or chew can cause (chipped or even broken teeth). So, what types of toys can a massive chewer have to get rid of their energy? Well, it’s not so much on what toys you can or cannot give your dog, but rather on how you use these toys to play with your dog.
There are many different ways that you can take toys and play with your aggressive chewer with them.
This has become another hot topic with articles coming out on how it causes behavioral issues with dogs. The common theme in these articles is:
“The movement of a laser pointer triggers a dog’s prey drive, which means they want to chase it. It’s an unending game with no closure for the dog since they can’t ever catch that beam of light, like they can when chasing a toy or food. Many dogs continue looking for the light beam after the laser pointer has been put away; this is confusing for your dog because the prey has simply disappeared. This can create obsessive compulsive behaviors like frantically looking around for the light, staring at the last location they saw the light, and becoming reactive to flashes of light (such as your watch face catching the sunlight and reflecting on the wall, or the glare of your tablet screen on the floor). Dogs that exhibit behavioral issues are frustrated, confused, and anxious.”- By AKC Staff
Yes, all these things can be true if you don’t properly train your dog with and how to understand the laser. As stated above, “It’s an unending game with no closure.” That’s where pet parents go wrong with this type of toy. As stated above as well, “they can’t ever catch that beam of light, like they can when chasing a toy or food.” So as you can see, if there never is any closure, then yes, your dog could develop behavioral issues. But if you do create closure, by shining the light to an area for your dog to find something, like a treat or a toy, then there is closure to the game and your dog will not end up with these behavioral issues. As a dog trainer I have trained many dogs with lasers and creating closure to the game, and I have never encountered a dog having behavioral issues from this type of toy/game.
If you are having trouble understanding how to do this, seek out a professional who is familiar with how to train this.
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