I have recently acquired another dog in my home. For the record I have Sandy, an 8 –yr old lab mix, Ranger, an 8-yr old Golden Retriever, Sheba, a 5-yr old cattle dog/terrier mix, Ginger, a 2-yr old German Shepherd and Shelby, a 10 month old Golden Retriever. All of my dogs have been acquired from rescues or were re-homed.
Given the breeds and ages of my dogs, I have spent a lot of money on chew bones and toys over the last 8 years. Toys are an important part of interacting and playing with your dog. In addition, you can also enforce a lot of behavior commands with their favorite toy. Asking for a sit, down or wait before they can have their toy will go a long way towards you becoming a valuable leader of the pack. In addition, using their favorite toy as a distraction while practicing stay or place is an excellent way to build up their impulse control. A lot of clients and people ask me what toys I recommend or often tell me their dog chews up every toy they bring home. Does this sound familiar?
In my experience I have found that it is worth it to pay a little bit more for an American made toy. The following companies have strong toys and a few even have a guarantee, so if your dog chews it up, you can return it to the retail store you bought it from or return it to the company and they will replace it. These programs are good for your pocketbook and the environment and it is reassuring that a company is willing to stand behind their product.
Even though they don’t make toys, I recommend lupine collars, leashes and harnesses- www.lupine.com. If you have a puppy, they come in very handy especially since they are guaranteed if chewed. They come in a variety of patterns and sizes and they are guaranteed if chewed. You can find something to fit any dog (or cat) and they are always coming out with new patterns. The only drawback is they do retire patterns after a year or two so you may not be able to get your favorite design anymore. You do need to find a lupine dealer in your area to purchase your items but you can find a list of dealers based on zip codes from their website. Just for fun you can also purchase a belt in your favorite design and you and your pooch can be color coordinated as you go for your walks and attend training classes.
For mentally stimulating your dog, you cannot beat a Kong. They come in a variety of sizes for puppies to seniors and can be stuffed with anything your dog desires. www.kongcompany.com. They have a collection of plush toys with replaceable squeakers and also make wobblers, wubbas, squeezz and genius toys to help mentally stimulate your dog. If you type “kong stuffing recipes” into google, you could be reading and/or making recipes to satisfy your dog’s hunger for weeks. Kongs can be purchased at specialty pet stores, large chain stores and from catalogs.
Planet Dog is another company that stands behind their Orbee Tough products and they have a strong line of products to fit all size dogs. Footballs, soccerballs, golf balls, snowballs plus a variety of fruits and other shapes to help you interact and play with your dog. www.planetdog.com.
West Paw is another company with some wonderful durable toys and beds. www.westpawdesign.com. Their zogoflex design offers a variety of toys to meet all sizes and breeds. Bumi, hurley, huck, tux, twiz and zisc just to name a few. I have to admit those are just cool names for toys. They offer a one-time guarantee if chewed and these tend to last longer than other toys even for the most tenacious chewer.
Triple Crown makes everlasting treat balls and everlocking treat balls which come with edible treats in liver, chicken, BBQ and mint flavors. http://www.triplecrowndogs.com/products/4/Interactive-Toys.html.
Premier makes busy buddy toys and a variety of plush toys that hold up well to chewers.The bouncy bone and bristle bone have gnawhides and cornstarch treats that you can twist onto the nylabone which makes it appealing to all dogs. www.premier.com.
Goughnuts are another company with a guarantee. Their “red means stop” logo is a great indicator and if you ship your toy back to the company, they will send you a new one. All you pay is the shipping and handling. – www.goughnuts.com.
www.vipproducts.com is another great site with a variety of Tuffy toys and other brands. They also have a program where you can test toys and get a discount on them if you give a review of your dog’s experience with the toys.
Nylabones are another great investment. I have 1 dog that doesn’t like them but the other 4 are often seen nibbling on a nylabone somewhere in the house. You can buy them in original, chicken, bacon and beef flavors. They even come in mint flavors to help with bad breath and raised nubs to help with plaque and tartar build-up. www.nylabone.com
No matter what type of toy you buy for your dogs, it is always a good idea to inspect the toy on a regular basis. If a toy has a sharp edge or can cause a choking hazard, it is time to throw the toy away and buy a new one. Keep track of the dates you purchase your toys so you can get an accurate measure of how long they last. In addition, sometimes it is also a good idea to keep your receipt so if you need to return it to the store, you will be able to exchange it for a replacement toy. Some of these toys need to be purchased from a retailer but all of the sites give locations and names of local establishments or on-line retailers that carry their products.
I have used all of these products in doggie daycare environments, in training classes and with my personal dogs. I am sure there are many other great toys and companies that make strong toys that hold up to tough jaws. I enjoy shopping and letting my dogs test toys on a regular basis. If you have a suggestion or recommendation, please let me know.
Tell us about your dog’s favorite toy and why?