Submitted By Jules Martins of Village Paws Pet Salon

I Love it When You Toy with Me

So your new pup (or dog of any age) is very interested in putting your personal things in his mouth. Chewing is part of your dog’s primeval nature so you really can’t hold it against him. And doesn’t it seem he always goes for your favorite shoes? In order to keep your Jimmy Choos from becoming Jimmy Chews, read on and try to understand why your sweet pal has turned into Jaws with paws.

Dogs use their mouths to explore the world and it also offers relief from teething pain. The harder the chewing object the better for both pain relief and oral enjoyment. In the wild, the pack will spend many hours chewing the bones after their kill. Now that dogs live amongst us, chew toys are important to their wellbeing. Toys help fight boredom when you have to leave your dog at home, and they also provide comfort when they’re feeling nervous. Toys can even help prevent your dog from developing certain problem behaviors. To keep your head from spinning when making toy choices, keep in mind the following:

1Choose toy safety over toy cuteness: You can pretty much find a toy shape of anything or anyone out there. I personally love the Michael Vick dog toy but that is another topic for another day. The things that are usually most attractive to dogs are often the very things that are the most dangerous. Dog-proof your home by removing string, ribbon, rubber bands, children’s toys, pantyhose and other edible items that could be swallowed. These are almost impossible for a dog to pass once injested. Offer up toys that are appropriate to your dog’s size to prevent swallowing. And bear in mind that the squeaker inside the toy is an open invitation for a wild mauling by your dog to get to it. These toys usually have a life span of three minutes or less.

2 A big fat “no” to rawhide: If you’re thinking about giving your dog rawhide chew toys, be sure to check with your veterinarian about which ones are safe and appropriate for your dog. These toys may pose choking hazards, so give them to your dog only when you can supervise them. NEVER leave your dog alone with rawhide. Also, rawhide is loaded with fat that can contribute to a costly case of pancreatitis. Many rawhides are byproducts of the cruel international fur trade and are loaded with things that belong in the trash and not your dog’s mouth.

3Active toys: Hard rubber toys such as Nylabone and Kong type products come in many shapes and sizes and are fun for chewing and carrying around. Tennis balls make great dog toys for fetching, but don’t stand up to chewing very well. Discard any tennis balls that have been chewed through, as they can pose a choking hazard to your pet.

4Distraction action: Distraction toys: Kong type toys, especially when filled with broken-up treats, can keep a puppy or dog busy for hours. If your veterinarian says your dog can eat peanut butter, fill the toy with it and throw it in the freezer. You can also add broken up biscuits to the mix for more variety. This will make his treat last longer and give him more pleasure.

5Soft & sweet: Soft stuffed toys are good for several purposes, but not all dogs love them. Some dogs like to carry around soft toys. If your dog sees their toy as a buddy, choose one that’s small enough to carry. Some dogs want to shake their toys, so choose one that’s large enough to prevent swallowing and strong enough to withstand your dog’s attacks. Dirty laundry, such as an old t-shirt or blanket, can be very comforting to a dog because it smells like you. Just remember that this item could be destroyed by fluffing, carrying and excessive doggie snuggles.

In closing, toys are essential for keeping your dog busy and happy. They offer hours of entertainment and comfort when you are not around. Take the time to watch the interacting of your dog and its toy to make sure it is a safe match. Keep the available toys at a minimum to keep them fresh and make them last. Change out the toys when they become worn to prevent swallowing. “Found” toys are often much more attractive than toys that are purposefully introduced. A game of finding toys or treats is a good daily activity for your dog. This is something you can do together and uses up energy without the need for a lot of space. Don’t be surprised if he shares his toys and initiates a game of fetch with you. If he does, you are a good doggie parent and he wants you to know it.