by Vicki Chaney
There are many different types of toys on the market today for your dog and puppy, but not all the toys sold are safe or appropriate for your puppy. Although most people think toys are purely for entertainment purposes they have other functions as well.
We suggest that you have three different categories of toys. One group is for the house while under your supervision. One group is for outside, and the last group is the rotation group that can be used indoors or out.
The house toys should be kept in a "toy box" expressly for your puppy. This can be a box with no lid, a basket, or any other type of container that the puppy can easily access.
The toys should be kept in this container unless the puppy is playing with them. This means that every time the puppy goes out, or goes to sleep the toys are picked up and placed back in the toy box. When the puppy comes back in the house, after the initial greeting from you, you should take the puppy to the toy box and encourage him to pick out a toy to play with.
Whenever your puppy chews on something it shouldn't, or becomes real excited, or displays the desire to play, you should take the puppy to the toy box and encourage it to pick out a toy. This ritual will soon become a habit, and when your puppy feels like chewing or tossing something around, it will automatically go to the toy box. This is a learned behavior and will only become a habit if you religiously put the toys back in the toy box and encourage the puppy to use the toy box. You can even, with perseverance and patience, teach the puppy to put the toys back itself!
All dogs and puppies like to chew and need to chew. Chewing is a natural behavior for your dog. If your dog or puppy were in the wild it would spend many hours a day chewing on the remains of its prey. So providing plenty of chew-toys in a necessity. A company called "Nylabone" makes many different types of bones that are safe and good for your puppy or dog. These can be used indoors or outdoors.
Another type of toy that dogs and puppies like are toys that are designed to stimulate thinking. Some companies that make this type of toy are "Kong" and "Planet Pet Toys." These companies make toys that treats can be placed in. The dog or puppy will be stimulated and occupied trying to figure out how to get the treats out. Another toy in this category is called "Buster Cube." The "buster cube" can be adjusted to different levels of difficulty to continue to challenge and stimulate your puppy. These toys can be used indoors or outdoors.
These toys are great to give to your dog or puppy just as you are about to leave to help distract them from the fact that you are leaving and therefore help to relieve separation anxiety. A puppy stimulated with a toy is far less likely to engage in destructive behavior. Toys like these should be given only when you leave so they remain new to the puppy. They also should be rotated with other toys the dog finds stimulating.
Another little trick is to "pack a lunch" for your puppy. Take a toy or two that is in the rotation group and a treat or two, place them in a paper lunch bag (folded up just like a real lunch you would give to your kids) and give it to your puppy just as you are leaving. Again, this will distract the puppy or dog and give it something to do during the initial period of separation which can be a great help in curbing destructive behavior.
Plush squeaky toys are great fun for your dog or puppy. Many companies make these types of toys. Care must be taken to insure that the dog does not open the toy and swallow the squeaker. These types of toys are really for the house under your supervision.
Balls make great toys too. When choosing a ball for your puppy or dog make sure it is large enough that your dog or puppy can't choke on it. Racquet balls, for instance, are not good balls for your dog as they can get stuck in the back of the throat. Tennis balls should be used only under supervision as well.
Balls that you could leave with your puppy or dog outdoors should be sized right for the puppy or dog and should not have any type of squeaker or bell inside that the puppy could get and swallow. Balls that are inflatable should not be given to your dog or puppy as the puppy could puncture it and eat the plastic.
Any toys that you give to your puppy or dog should be designed for dogs and puppies not for children or other pets such as cats.
You should have enough toys in all categories so that you can keep some in the rotation group. These toys should be kept in a cupboard or drawer. Take away an indoor toy and an outdoor toy each week and replace it with one from the cupboard. This way the toys remain new to the puppy or dog and will last longer too.