By Courtney Emken
co-written by Jen Larson, KPA-CTP
Most dog owners don’t even think about their dog not loving toys. However, it’s far more common than you might think. Puppies aren’t automatically interested in every kind of dog toy under the sun. Not every dog is going to like rope or chew toys. It’s mostly up to us to figure out what they enjoy best.
Teaching A Puppy To Be Interested In Toys
The basic idea behind teaching a puppy to like toys is simple: make them fun and interesting! If you encourage them to play with toys and ensure it’s an exciting experience, then your puppy will easily develop a lifelong love for them.
At DogBoy’s we use “take it” and “drop it” to get puppies interested in their toys. We try to grab their attention with the toy and hold it near their mouth. When they grab it, we reward them. After playing with it we hold still and wait for them to lose interest, drop it, then we reward that too.
If your puppy isn’t paying attention to a toy, try rubbing treats on it. Get something nice and smelly like:
- Peanut butter
- Green Mussel
Now, they’ll want to inspect the toy, and may even start playing with it entirely on accident. You can also hide treats inside of certain toys. We highly recommend using Kongs and other puzzle toys to physically and mentally stimulate dogs of any age.
You can also easily make mentally enriching toys by yourself. Take a milk jug and punch holes in it. Place some kibble inside and watch your dog kick it around all day to try and get the kibble out. After an hour or so, they’ll have to quit and take a nap because they’re so worn out!
You’re more likely to get your dog interested in a toy if you tailor it to their breed. Different breeds are naturally inclined towards different kinds of work. Terriers were once vermin control, so they prefer to tear and shake. Labs would rather run around and retrieve something for you.
Be careful not to leave toys out constantly. Pick toys up, hide them, and reintroduce them later. If they’re always available your dog might become bored with them. Give them toys one by one to make each a new experience for them.
Toys You Shouldn’t Let Your Dog Fall In Love With
All toys should be handled responsibly: read the labels, follow the instructions, and supervise your dog while they’re playing. However, some toys are just too dangerous for us to recommend without serious cautions.
If you’ve read our blog in the past, you’ll know we have a bone to pick with rawhides. But, any toy that’s destructible is a both a choking hazard, and could mean an emergency vet visit. We’ve seen way too many obstructions from pieces of toys not to warn our customers against them.
Obstructions can be fatal if left untreated, and the surgery is intense and expensive. It’s not the kind of experience you or your dog should ever have to go through. Watch out for toys and objects like:
- Rope toys
- Chew bones
- Small sticks
- Stuffed animals
Even tiny dogs have powerful jaws and teeth. When left alone they can easily rip and tear these toys to shreds and swallow them. Rawhides and bones are two of the most common causes of gastrointestinal blockage, so make sure you know how to properly give a bone to your dog.
Many dogs love squeaky toys. Unfortunately, with a little work on your dog’s part, the squeakers are easily dislodged from the toy. Once removed, dogs could chew up the squeaker and swallow the indigestible plastic. Small dogs are at a bigger risk, because it takes a tiny amount of plastic to obstruct their intestinal tract.
Our own dog Noodle (a Chiweenie) would try to eat squeakers all the time if we didn’t watch him carefully. Luckily, all dogs can enjoy their favorite toys safely if they’re being supervised. If you have any questions about our favorite toys, or how Noodle fell in love with his toy-squirrel, please contact us.
Laying Dog and Rope by Crystal Sanchez
Rope Toy Dog by rpavich
Puppy and Toy by Tommy Wong