Toy Trouble: It’s Worth the Price!

08-161-QP05-LR-stuffing-free-dog-toyOne of the biggest complaints I hear when it comes to dog toys that they just don’t last and that they are a waste of money. I would like to address these complaints with the following 5 reasons you should feel good about spending $$ on toys for your dog.

  1. Playing with toys stimulates your dog’s mind and can help promote problem solving skills.
  2. Toys keep dogs busy. And guess what? Your busy dog doesn’t have as much time to get into trouble.
  3. Toys help fulfill instinctive drives including: shredding/ripping, hunting/finding food, chasing and herding.
  4. Toys help expend energy. Fetching/retrieving activities expend pent up energy. If you are a part of the fun, then you get the added bonus of additional “bonding” time. So go ahead and play a game of fetch with Fido!
  5. Toys help with emotional balance: dogs that get adequate physical and mental stimulation tend to be healthier and more emotionally balanced.

Please don’t deprive your dog of toys because you think it is a waste of money. Consider how many children’s toys need to be replaced because of damage over time. Toys are made to be played with….and with dogs, that often means annihilation . So, with that in mind, determine how much you can spend on toys each month and consider it an investment in your dog’s emotional well-being.

These are a few tips on making the toys you choose last a little longer:

1. Change out toys every week. Novelty seems to be something that many dogs love when it comes to toys.

2. Keep at least one interactive toy out of reach and use it for special occasions. Pull it down and use it for a reward during training or to help keep your interactions with Fido “amazing” in his eyes.

3. Some toys are tougher than others….Kongs, Marrow Bones, and many food dispensing toys should be around awhile.

4. Toys made from material will have a shorter life expectancy, especially if you have a “shredder” on your hands. Just sit back and enjoy watching your dog rip it to pieces (make sure he doesn’t ingest any of it) and properly dispose of any small pieces.

5. Appropriate chews will help fill the gap when it comes to expense…..back straps, pig ears, deer antlers, bully sticks, and Himalayan Chews are all great choices for filling your dog’s need to chew.

Some dogs need a little help when it comes to toys, so try a variety. You should eventually find something that your dog likes! And remember that the small investment in toys is worth a happy, mentally healthy dog!

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Positively Expert: Amy Weeks

Amy Weeks, M.A. (VSPDT, CPDT-KA, CAP-1, CGC Evaluator, Family Pet Paws Presenter) is owner of “Amy’s Canine Kindergarten”, a dog training company based out of Tampa, Florida which provides in-home and group training as well as bite prevention presentations.

  • Amy,
    As an owner of Happy Hound Dog Resorts where we provide boarding, daycare, training and grooming, we have the top 3 dogs in terms of jaw strength, the pit bull terriers, german shepherds and rottweilers on the floor on any given day. We have found the tennis balls do not last long, neither do any of the items that have handles on them, so we have gone to the solid products, in tennis ball to grapefruit size for our dog daycare. We are not here to promote any brand, but we just purchased some westpaw products and so far so good, they are fun, heavy and bounce at angles to make playing with them fun. In Daycare, nothing seems to last very long. For my standard poodles at home, I feed them the cow trachea, which they love and are able to digest. Pig ears and the Himalayan chews are popular at our house as well. They can make for terrible land mines at 4 in the morning when you step on one, but the price of having great dogs! Great article!

    Jack Bobeck
    Jacksonville, FL

  • This brings up the question for me regarding squeaky toys. I have a shepherd/husky mix and a cat. I've been told that it may not be the best idea to allow the dog to play with squeaky toys, because it can stimulate his prey drive, which could in turn create issues for him and the cat. Do you have any thoughts on this?

  • Mina

    Boy, this is a stimulating list of reasons and advice.

  • Thanks DogPaddle. I've been erring on the side of caution for quite a while. Since Canine-Feline relations in the house have improved a lot, I've been considering allowing the squeaky toy. You're story helps. I would like to hear others.

  • Jackie Beltaine

    I found this at my local Bargain Hunt:

    My toy shredder loves it. She did de-stuff the head but I've reattached the arms and legs multiple times and she now waits for me to do it so she can tear them off again. BEST IDEA EVER!

  • Stacey Miller-Adams

    I so agree! We have a whole toy box full and while we are gone, they play an dig in the toy box, lay down in it on their back and kick and then toys fly everywhere across the room, we can tell when we come back that they have had fun LOL

  • Gigi

    Not sure what you are using for treats, but maybe you need to use higher value treats to trade. I'd probably teach the "trade for a treat" game with something the dog doesn't value as much as a toy before you try it with a toy.

  • Liane Laskoske

    Hold the toy when you give it to him and don't let it go. He'll learn he can play with the toy while you hold it. After a while, let go, let him play with it, and get another toy out. If he goes for that one, do the same with it and hold on to it. My poodle will guard his chewies, but if I hold the chewy, he'll calm down and gnaw on it and ignore our other dog.

  • Karen Clarke

    My pit bull is a toyminator, who shreds every single toy he gets. I buy stuffed animals at the thrift store for him- I look for the ones that squeak or rattle, or that are floppy and fun to shake. I do have to be careful about the eyes, though- he loves to remove them first thing- luckily he always spits them out. But for anyone else who gives human kid stuffies to their dogs- remove the toys' eyes, and then close up the resulting hole with a rubber band.

  • Victoria Jenkins

    Find an experienced trainer who uses POSITIVE reinforcement. Make sure it's legit, stay away from "balanced" dog training. Don't do anything like the Dog Whisperer, please. Find a treat he likes more than the toy--you may have to get some freeze-dried liver or cook some ground meat or something.

    A trainer may be expensive, and he COULD just be trying to send a message.... but if he does attack anyone in the house, the hospital bills will probably be more than the trainer bills. Please find someone who can work with you in person. I'm afraid I can't be of much help over the internet.

  • tammydog2

    I buy baby soft toys - some of them last much longer. I bought two yesterday, and they are still whole - if it were doggie toys, they woudl have been broken by now with all the stuffing out.

  • MeredithMiner

    We have 12 dogs and probably about 50 toys that are on rotation and being added to every birthday. gotcha day and Christmas. Every so often, someone completely loves something to /death/ and it has to be discarded, otherwise, we have a big toy wash day every couple of weeks and they go into storage and the "old" ones come back out. We're all looking forward to some new ones from Santa this year!

  • Carol Wilkes

    I have 2 pups 6.5 month and 7 month, the younger one loves teddy's and soft toys (female) the other one is a bone and kong boy. But both play with all there toys new and old. But I will try and keep one for training, thanks for that tip. x

  • Cath Taylor

    My little dog had a favourite toy, 'penguin' - he took out all the stuffing - repaiirs finally failed and it was reduced to a piece of material. His least favouite was the 'yorkie' that 'ate' his dinner when he wouldn't as a puppy, that got a good pasting! Being a Lhasa Apso, his attitude to 'fetch' was 'you want it - you go get it!'

  • Mollysmom

    "Change out toys every week." This made me laugh out loud. I have two dogs, and my female (a bull-terrier mix) is THE Angel of Death when it comes to toys. Even those supposedly tougher toys are lucky to last more than a day with her. I recently ordered some extra large antlers - hers was gone within a day. One day. Even those tougher food dispensing toys only have a lifespan of 3-4 days in this house.

    I've tried a variety of different toys with her, and wasted hundreds of dollars on things that I think might last. So far, the only thing that doesn't get destroyed within a week are the gigantic nylabones. I should add that in addition to having each other to wrestle with, I walk my dogs a minimum of 4 miles a day. I'm a stay-at-home-mom, so my pups are rarely left home alone for very long stretches of time. I don't think her problem is boredom, or a lack of stimulation.

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