As a dog owner, you probably know from experience that the most expensive dogs toys are the ones your dog creates herself from your furniture, shoes and other stuff. You know that by correcting your dog for chewing on what is yours (and not hers) and then handing your dog a toy teaches your dog to chew on something more acceptable. And thus, dog toys are a bargain and a great way for your dog to relieve stress and frustration.
The last few years have seen an explosion in exciting toy design. Never before have such stimulating toys been commercially available for dogs. You can supplement those toys with equally stimulating homemade toys. Different dogs need different toys. Some dogs can only be trusted with the toughest toys on the market, whereas others will treasure fragile toys with utmost care. Gentle dogs can play with squeaky toys; soft latex tends to be more dog-resistant than hard plastic.
Gentle dogs can also have stuffed animal toys, but be sure to remove any plastic eyes or noses. You can buy bunches of these toys at thrift stores and just bring out a few at a time. When evaluating the safety of any toy, consider:
1. The toy should not be small enough to be inhaled or swallowed whole.
2. The toy should not have parts that can be pulled off and swallowed.
3. The toy should not have any sharp parts.
4. Avoid linear toys such as pantyhose, strings, ribbons and rubber bands that can be swallowed; such toys can be particularly dangerous.
5. Use chewable toys with caution and under supervision. If your dog can swallow a big hunk of it, it’s probably not really safe. Bones and hooves are responsible for many cracked rear teeth, resulting in expensive dental bills.
6. If your dog is obsessed with dissecting toys to remove the squeakers, only give him squeaky toys when you can supervise.
7. Avoid children’s toys stuffed with unsafe fillings, such as beans.
8. Never give your dog a container in which the dog’s head could become lodged. Dogs cannot pull these containers off and have suffocated when they became stuck.
9. Never leave a dog unsupervised with a toy that contains a battery. Some toys require a person on the other end. Balls, tug toys and chase toys are some examples. Don’t think you can hand your dog a toy that requires a person and expect her to be entertained while you’re gone. She will turn to a toy that doesn’t require your presence in order to be fun, such as the arm of your sofa.