1.Toys provide mental stimulation
2.Toys can calm and settle
3.Toys can enhance training
4.Toys can build the human/dog bond
I remember when dog toys were limited to balls, squeaky rubber toys and maybe a Frisbee™.
Visit any pet supply store on the ground or online today and prepare to be overwhelmed with the vast variety of toys designed just for our furry companions. Is this just crazy? Perhaps, but many of these dog toys provide us with useful tools in our puppy training and certainly in our fun interactions with our pups.
These include my all-time puppy favourite, the stuffable chew toy. Made of rubber, with a hollow centre that can be filled with yummy treats, these chew toys will keep your pup busy for long periods, get him hooked on chewing the right things while he says calm and settled. There are others that are more active requiring pup to move them about to get the treats out. Watching a puppy figure out that moving this strange object causes food to appear is highly entertaining. It’s making him think, too. Dogs have good reasoning ability. Making use of pup’s ability to think keeps him from being bored and destructive.
“You shouldn’t play tug with your puppy. It will make him aggressive.” Have you heard that? I have.
Watch two pups with a stick and you’ll quickly realize that tug is a favourite doggy game.
Why then wouldn’t we play it with them too? There must be rules in the human/dog tug game …easy and effective ones.
Pup must let go of the toy when you ask
Pup’s teeth must NEVER touch human skin
Playing tug with your pup is a great way to reinforce the ‘off’ (or ‘leave it’) training. If playing tug is one of your pup’s favourite activities, what a great reward in any training and an easy way to phase out those food treats!
Your dog is not a retrieving breed? No worries. Lots of breeds will love to retrieve a ball, a Frisbee™, or a stick. Dogs who love the water, and some of the breeds or individuals that do may surprise you, will happily retrieve a thrown stick from a river, lake or the ocean for hours (feels like hours to the thrower at any rate!)
If your pup loves to chase the ball, check out the Chuck-It™. If you can’t throw worth a darn (like me), this is a must-have!
Build the bond between you and your up, reinforce the ‘leave it’ training, tweak the drop zone, and practise the recall… all good reasons to play retrieve with your pup.
There are tons of choices in dog toys.I have mixed feelings about these, perhaps because the sound is incredibly annoying to my ears!
However, I have seen pups happily entertain themselves for long periods of time by causing the toy to squeak incessantly. I have also used a squeaky toy as a training reward for those pups (usually small breeds) that love them. The long, skinny,unstuffed fabric ones with a squeaker or two inside are popular with my puppy clients. Check them out with your pup. Is he a squeaky lover?
Using the ones that appeal to your pup can provide you with
a) time to put your feet up
b) great training rewards in working with your pup
c) assistance in creating good habits in your new puppy
One thing more: I’ve had clients say to me,”My puppy is not interested in toys. She has lots but never plays with them.” Imagine this: You have just arrived here from a culture where skipping doesn’t exist. Someone hands you a length of rope and says, “Have fun skipping.” What would your response be? Dog toys were created by humans for dogs. Humans need to demonstrate how dogs can make use of these strange objects for learning, stimulating and fun.
When introducing your pup to a new toy, let your silly side come out and play. Interact with the toy, make it move, talk to it, create interest by being excited with it. Puppy will soon become curious about what his human is doing and then he’ll be wanting to interact with this ‘thing’ too.