The Importance of Playtime
There is nothing more fun than taking the time to play with your dog, whether it be outside in the garden or the woods with a ball, rope or frisbee, or inside with a smaller ball. Dog toys and playing together is not only important for the development of the relationship between owner and dog and good exercise, it is also a good way to teach them things in a playful way like "down", "leave it" and "stay". Of course, the use of toys specifically designed for dogs is very important as they pick them up with their mouths whilst playing.
Regular toys like balls are not suitable for dogs as the rubber can tear, which could be ingested, and could cause extreme dental erosion. Regular soft toys are not suitable either as they are also prone to tearing and could be ingested. Specially designed dog toys have been created and tested to ensure safety.
Puppies love to chew and will always want to chew and nibble on their toys. Contrary to common belief, this is a good habit as chewing and nibbling helps clean their teeth and stimulates mental health in that it keeps them occupied and alleviates boredom. Chew toys are made of a flexible but durable material to ensure that they last a long time.
Some dogs might not be stimualted to chew on the toys that you have provided, but instead prefer to nibble on your sofa or shoes. Flavoured chew toys have been designed to encourage them to chew on the toy instead and can help teach them which toys are theirs and which are not. Tasty chew toys also serve well as a treat.
Squeaky toys such as those from KONG, can be used to encourage your dog to start playing as most dogs will want to chase the sound. If your dog is rather hyper or responds wildly to the sound of squeaky toys, it would be best not to let them play with these toys on their own as they will chew it until they have managed to get to the source of the squeaking (a bellows, in most cases). However, you can allow your dog to play with the squeaky toy whilst you are around, just make sure you take it away from him afterwards.
Besides squeaky and chew toys, there are many other types of toys available that have been specifically designed for dogs like a ball or a frisbee. It is very common for dogs to have an inherent preference for specific types of toys, for example, Terriers prefer pulling games and Retrievers love to fetch. Most dogs will enjoy a good hunting game and others might yearn for a mental challenge. Dog puzzles, such as those from Nina Ottosson, have been created specially for these types of dogs. You can also try one of the bouncy dog balls within this category that take playing fetch with your dog to the next level.
Hunting for Treats
For dogs that love hunting for food and treats, hollow balls have been designed that treats can be put inside of. The movement of playing with the ball systematically releases the biscuits, which rewards them for playing by themselves. Furthermore, it provides a bit of a challenge to obtain their own food but in a fun, playful way.
Every dog has a different preference when it comes to toys, so make sure you try a range of toys, from balls and sticks to ropes and squeaky toys, to determine what works for your dog.