For this issue of PAW, we conducted our own “pooch poll” to determine what dogs like and don’t like about the things their owners give them for entertainment. Here’s what they barked back: Let’s get one thing straight, people: For most of us dogs, toys are not a luxury—they’re a necessity. Toys help fight boredom when we’re left alone, and can even help prevent some problem behaviors from developing, though we don’t personally know of any.
BE CAUTIOUS We count on you to make our home safe. Toys and other items that are too small can easily be swallowed or become lodged in our throat. We love squeaky toys, but we may feel the need to find and destroy the source of the squeaking, and could ingest it. And those soft toys should be machine washable.
ACTIVE TOYS Very hard rubber toys and “rope” toys with knotted ends are cool with us. Tennis balls are great, too, but make sure we fetch ‘em, not chew the fuzz off ‘em.
DISTRACTION TOYS Wanna keep us busy for hours? Just lay a Kong®-type toy nearby—especially one that’s filled with yummy treats. Double-check with our veterinarian about using peanut butter. And be sure to choose a toy of appropriate size.
COMFORT TOYS Soft stuffed toys should be small enough to carry around. For dogs that want to shake or “kill” the toy, it should be the size that our “prey” would be (mousesize, rabbit-size, duck-size, etc.). Dirty laundry, like an old T-shirt, can be very comforting to us, especially if it smells like you!
GET THE MOST OUT OF TOYS Rotate our toys by making only a few available at a time. And give us some variety—at least one toy to carry, one to “kill,” one to roll, and one to “baby.” Many of our toys should be interactive. For young, highenergy and untrained dogs, interactive play also offers an opportunity for socialization and helps them learn about appropriate behavior.