Believe it or not, toys are more than some frivolous means to distract your pet while you are working or just want some quiet time. Toys play an instrumental role in the development of a healthy and well-behaved dog or cat. Safe, multipurpose toys are particularly important for budding pups and fully-grown dogs; while cats do take to catnip and other items here and there, they tend to be more aloof in their play. Take a look at some of the following characteristics to pick out in high-quality toys – and conversely, things to avoid.
1. Be mindful of the size of a toy and its material. All dogs are not created equal in terms of size, so some kinds of toys will be better suited for small breeds versus larger ones. Too small of ball toys or chew-things may warrant caution for a dog with a big mouth; incidents of swallowing foreign objects are not unheard of by any means. Some things lying around the house may appear innocuous enough, but items like ribbons, thin clothing, strings, and other easily digestible materials can pose problems for pets if left unattended. Sticks and other comparably hard toys can be destructive on dogs’ teeth, especially older ones.
2. Rawhide toys should be used on a case-by-case basis. The reason for this is many brands and forms of rawhide chews are a choking hazard to dogs. Consulting your veterinary doctor before purchasing one would be judicious. If you do decide to buy a rawhide toy for the pooch, try and be in the same vicinity whenever it is gnawing away at it just in case.
3. Pick up an active toy for outdoor exercise. If your dog can have fun while getting a good workout (and you knocking out your fitness for the day!) then it is a job well done. Excellent examples of toys like these are Frisbees, tennis balls, and ropes with knotted ends. They cannot be chewed through quickly and are made for throwing and fetch. They are not very harmful to a dog’s teeth and can be used many, many times before wearing out or breaking.
4. Soft, plush toys are excellent for comfort. Stuffed animals, pillows, or old sweatshirts are just a few examples of non-harmful toys which dogs can thrash around with to their delight. They are also great for the dog to lay or cuddle with over long periods of time. Be careful with old or fragile plush items which could break open and expose more easily digestible insides.
5. Be a part of the playtime as much as possible. Safety in pet toys is of the utmost importance, but your dog may still exhibit destructive or lonely behavior if you do not find the time to play. Playing fetch outside is one example. Another could be romping around on the carpet with your dog and a favorite toy of theirs. A third way to join your pet in play is to play hide and seek with a new toy. Cuddling with and petting your dog while they lay with a soft toy of theirs is another great way to bond. Interactive play will lessen your dog’s boredom, expend energy in a healthy way, and ultimately bring him or her closer to you.