Everyone knows that puppies need oodles of chew toys to help them through the difficult phase where they are chewing everything in sight. This is true, of course, but something of equal importance is making sure that adult dogs also have enough toys to play with.
Remember, when you’re out working during the day, your dog needs to entertain himself. If the environment lacks sufficient stimulation, he’s going to find things to keep himself busy, and usually it ends up being something the owners hate!
Chewing for dogs not only helps to keep their teeth clean, but it also combats boredom and most dogs will chew to relieve frustration or stress. If you watch your dog chewing a suitable toy, you can almost see him going all glassy eyed from enjoyment. Therefore, it is important to provide your dogs with suitable chew toys. Bear in mind, a chew toy is something the dog can chew, swallow and digest, so don’t get upset if he eats and destroys the rawhide!
Toys can be divided into the following groups:
(Rawhide bones, ostrich chews, BIG raw bones, smoked pigs ears, hooves etc.) Always make sure that the size of the chew toy is manageable for your dog, so compare hardness of chew toy with strength of jaw muscles. Rawhide toys can be soaked in boiling hot water for a while to soften them, which often helps puppies and novice chewers to ‘get into’ them. If you see that the toy is getting small enough to fit down your dog’s oesophagus, pick it up and throw it away – remember safety first.
(Toys that will encourage your dog to problem solve.)
This includes toys like Treat balls, Busta Cubes or Kongs. You can also give him stuffed hooves – stuff peanut butter or liver/cheese spread in the hoof and freeze it.
Human interactive toys
(Ropes, ball-on-ropes, tennis balls, dumbbells etc).
These toys should never be left out for your dog. They are purely interactive toys for when he plays with a person. It’s important not to give your dog these types of toys to play with when he’s a chewer as ingested rope or pieces of tennis balls can cause a blockage which could end up with your dog in hospital.
Top tip: A good idea is to have a chew toy box for your dog. Fill this box with a variety of chews, and put this box out in the morning when you leave for work. Your dogs can then go and rummage about in it for something to do. Keep the toys on a rotating basis too so the novelty value doesn’t wear off. This is easily done by dividing the total number of chew toys into three piles and exchanging the content of the box every second day. Old chews can be washed, which turns them into a brand new toy.
You can even scatter feed your dog, where you scatter his kibble around the garden. This means he will spend hours tracking around looking for his kibble; this game is usually enjoyed tremendously by dogs as it allows them to use their noses for great gain.
If you have more than one dog and they fight over toys or food, please rather consult with a COAPE Qualified CAPBT (COAPE Association of pet Behaviourists and Trainers) for alternative suggestions that will suit your situation.
Who is Karin Pienaar?
Animal behaviour guru, Karin Pienaar, has been working in the field of animal behaviour and behaviour therapy in South Africa since 1997. She completed her Diploma in Animal Behaviour in the UK, through the Centre of Applied Pet Ethology (COAPE) and is a qualified Practitioner member of the COAPE Association of Pet Behaviourists & Trainers (CAPBT) in the UK and South Africa.
For more info visit: http://coapesa.com/