This article contains lots of useful information on playing styles and things you may want to consider when selecting toys for your dog. Take our quick four question quiz or read more below...
As we all know, every dog has a unique personality, behaviour traits and thinks they love and loathe. An aspect of this is the way they like to play and engage with the world around them and that includes you. Because of this, play style is important when considering toys, training and rewards. This can be influenced by many different things from breed, personality, pack size, socialisation and of course you the owner and the family your dog lives with.
TOYS AREN'T JUST ABOUT FUN
Some points to remember about quality toys:
• Toys can help improve mental health and development
• Play and interactions with toys help with training
• They can teach your dog how to be independent and self soothe
• The right toys can stimulate your dog’s natural instincts
• Quality products can help clean his teeth and gums
• Different toys increase physical activity
• Interactive play will deepen your mutual bond
• Cycling their toys every few days will prevent boredom
• Familiar toys and games will offer comfort
• Being able to play will relieve stress and anxiety.
Toys are a great source of physical entertainment, mental stimulation, emotional bonding and socialisation. Dogs enjoy the simulation that comes from great toys and of course from you. So always think about the physical and mental stimulation a toy could offer.
Without stimulation dogs are susceptible to boredom, anxiety and even depression. While the dogs of today are often thought of as companion dogs they retain the qualities that have been emphasised within different breeds. It's often forgotten that cross breeds like cockapoos and labradoodles have their heritage in working breeds and require much stimulation and exercise.
Toys are an ideal way for your dog to fulfil their need for physical activity and mental stimulation. To help you we have broken down the types of play and the toys that you might find most useful. We see these styles as fetching, tugging, chewing and problem solving. These can manifest individually or in a combination based on the environment around your dog.
DIFFERENT PLAY STYLES
Each dog’s play style will depend on several factors, including breed, or mix of breeds, lifestyle, training, socialisation, size, age, health and pack. For example, Pointers may not want to tug on a toy and they were bred to find.
TOP TIP Extend the lifespan of your dog’s toys and prevent boredom by rotating them. Stash a few toys away and bring them out once he starts to lose interest in his current ones. We can’t recommend this enough.
Balls, Frisbees, Safestix and throwing toys are the go-to for this type of behaviour. We have moved on and now recognise there are problems with the classic game of ‘fetch the stick'. Wood sticks pose a risk to dental and oral health with splinters and encourage your dog to find foreign objects while outdoors.
New versions of these such as the Kong Stafestix are great long lasting and safe to play with, they float too! Balls and frisbees are a great choice for those that love to have fun and once they get the ‘fetch’ part are a great way of adding physical activity to the mental stimulation of working for you.
Launchers also make it easier to get greater distances for those of us less gifted at throwing. Add to the fetching work by training your dog to ‘drop’ or leave the toy at your feet.TOP TIP When starting out with fetching have rewards or a second toy to assist in the recall with the toy and make it clear that its worth returning with the toy for more play or a reward, Often teaching ‘Fetch’ can be hard if the recall is not 100% so regular refreshers on that helps too.
Rope toys, we prefer 100% cotton are the classic here and affordable. Ideal for breeds like terriers and bulldogs who have a tendency to tug. Fibrous materials like cotton and hemp are ideal as they last, and the teeth and gums also get a clean. Look for tough toys with length to allow you and you dog to both hold safely.
Stuffing free toys are also great for this. Be sure when playing tugging games that regularly tell your dog to ‘drop’ or ‘leave it’ to ensure they do not become about dominance and to assist in healthy training of positive dog behaviours.TOP TIP As with all toys, opt for high quality. It might cost a little more, but you’ll be grateful when you don’t have to replace the toy within a week.
It’s easy to generalise but most dogs like a chew. With Chewing toys you should always remove any toy that is damaged or breaking into smaller pieces. It may seem obvious but smaller dogs and puppies chew differently from bigger dogs. Staffies for example have powerful jaws and brittle toys pose a particular risk to them with splintering fragments.
Kong chew toys are great and solid rubber, Planet Dog balls last and are fun to play with. We try to offer you the best products and a selection of choices.Instore you will also find our ‘Naturals’ range includes chews like sustainable deer antlers (naturally shed each year) and Yackers Yak cheese chews while a little more expensive last longer and are better for you dog than old school rawhide. TOP TIP If any toy become damaged please remove it from play. Sometimes it just requires a bit of stuffing or a damaged squeaker to be removed, check if there are any loose parts sometimes you can return this toy to your dog. If in doubt bin it.
PROBLEM SOLVING/ WORKING TOYS
Many working breeds like to think and solve problems you can make these up or buy toys that test them. We have Amazeballs and Kongs that you can stuff along with puzzle games for your dog.
The one thing to remember you must teach them how to work the toy and with a bit of light encouragement you dog will get the hang of it and start solving the problem and learn there is a reward for doing so. A FINAL NOTE
At Bone Idol we always look for eco-friendly options that are less likely to contain toxic materials that can harm your dog if accidentally ingested. We avoid toys with batteries, and even stock some recycled toys like the recycle-ball from Planet Dog.
We strive to find 100% cotton rope toys. We also aim to limit toys that might cause harmful products to end up in the eco system. This is hard and the pet trade is only just stating to catch up to what we believe in but we do our best for you and the planet.