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To pick the best toys for your pooch, take a moment to observe him at play. Is his favorite game fetch or does he like to play hide and go seek? Try tennis balls or rubber balls for the active retriever. Ropes are great for the dog who enjoys a friendly game of tug of war. Some dogs enjoy mouthing their favorite stuffed squeaky toy. For the avid chewer, get a flavored chew toy, like an edible cornstarch one. If your dog is high energy and loves the outdoors, consider any number of the Frisbee type toys available on the market today.
Try these ideas for inexpensive toys for your dog:
• Get a few used tennis balls, a short length of strong rope with knots tied in each end, and a small plastic soda bottle emptied and cleaned. Once your dog has bitten through the plastic bottle, throw it away so he doesn't eat any plastic pieces.
• Your dog will be just as happy playing with an item you already have in your house. He might be content to entertain himself chewing on an old sock or empty plastic containers. Make sure all your items are clean and free from any parts he could swallow.
• Try resale shops or garage sales for used stuffed animals, a favorite with many dogs. Wash and dry them, and then remove any parts a dog might swallow such as button eyes.
• Or buy your canine plastic toys and stuffed ones from the kid's and baby's department. They often carry similar products at lower prices.
Get a chew toy that can hold treats to keep your canine busy. There's a number on the market right now that come in an assortment of shapes and sizes, all geared toward making your pooch work a little to get a tasty snack.
Typically, made of a very tough rubber, these chew toys are hollow on the inside which allows you to stuff it with dog biscuits, peanut butter, or your dog's favorite treat. Because the hole to the inner chamber is so small, it can take your dog hours to extract all the goodies from within. While he's chewing and digging at it, the tough rubber construction prevents your dog from tearing the toy apart. The specially designed shape allows the toys to bounce erratically, eluding your dog, and keeping him interested.
If you're looking for a good chew toy, consider this - a dog's jaw can exert over 200 pounds per square inch. Chew toys should be durable to withstand daily abuse. Pick something that is appropriate for the bite strength of your dog.
Beyond durability, pick a chew toy that will benefit your dog in more ways than one. You can choose from chew toys that help keep teeth clean and free of tartar, chew toys to hold treats and keep your canine entertained, and interactive chew toys with ropes that let you turn chewing into playtime with your pooch.
With the number of chew toys on the market today, it's hard to figure out which one is best for your dog. First make an assessment. Do you have a large breed or a toy dog? Is she a strong chewer or not? You can choose from an assortment of rubber chew toys, nylon chew toys, tasty rawhides, and cornstarch edible chew toys. Consider a toy that can fit well in your pooch's mouth, but is not small enough so that she can swallow it. Check to see that there are no rough edges. Make sure that your pooch has no digestive problems with chewie treats like rawhides or pig ears. Consider getting your dog a chew toy that holds treats for added interest or one with nubs and ridges to help fight tartar.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|