by: Shannon Wright, BHS Canine Behaviorist
Welcome Dog Friends!
This month I wanted to give some light and love to a topic that we tend to overlook, TOYS!
It’s a part of the package deal for most dog owners. Ideally you get a dog and the toys start rolling in. But then what? Dogs differ on their value of toys and I hope this article will shed some light on helpful tips and recommendations for how to make toys hold their value for your furry companions.
Let’s talk about the beloved tennis ball! Classic, am I right? Well you may be surprised to find out that tennis balls can actually do more harm than good. If overused or left unattended tennis balls can and will wear down your dogs dental over time. Our Veterinarian doesn’t recommend them, instead opt for a softer squishy ball and make sure to monitor your pup while this toy is being played with; because they’re also very easy for a dog to destroy them posing a choking hazard. The Kong Squeeze ball or Chuck It ball can be used as an alternative to tennis balls. Head over to The Best Dog Ball Review to see the in depth review.
Some other resources are listed below for your convenience.
Now what about the access to toys? Does your dog have free range to grab whatever toy at any time? Do you have a toy box for your dog’s toys? Maybe you’ve noticed that after you purchased a new toy it is exciting for a little while, but after a week or two later, your dog barely gives any attention to it.
Allowing for constant access to the toys will devalue them. I suggest taking back just a few of those toys, put them away for a couple of hours or maybe even a few days, then when you and your dog are ready to engage in some play, take out the hidden toy and watch your dog’s eyes light up like they’ve never seen it before. Then after play time is done, put it away again. Your dog will show more engagement with the toys and the hope is that they will find value in the old toy. Plus, maybe save a few bucks along the way!
Also, are you doubling down on the treats? Swap out a tasty treat routine for an opportunity to grab these toys and have a quick play session. Once the dog is finding value in their toy again they may prefer the play session instead of the quick snack routine.
Finally, be sure to inspect toys regularly, any moderate to severely damaged toys should be tossed out to avoid your dog swallowing a harmful piece. A blockage and exploratory emergency surgery runs not only a high risk and recovery time for your dog, but will also cost on average $800-$7000 without pet insurance. Always pick toys that are the appropriate size for your dog to avoid a choking hazard.