Most dogs have lots of toys. Unfortunately, unless used correctly, more behaviour problems can occur due to incorrect use of toys than any other single factor. Toys can be divided into three main groups:
- Chasing Toys/Fetch Toys – Ball, Frisbee and Disc, etc: These toys play on the dog’s natural desire to
chase after moving prey. Dogs love to chase a toy, such as a ball. But, if not trained correctly, he may decide to chase the person’s hand holding his ball. Sometimes, if a child picks up the ball and runs, he will chase the child. This behaviour should not be encouraged. Train him to chase only the toy – not anything and everything.
- Chew Toys – Squeaky Toys, Rag to Shake, etc: Dogs love chewing- chew toys ensure that he does not do damage at home. These toys are based on the dog’s instinct to catch, bite and shake. Squeaky toys build on a dog’s curiosity. Never give a dog an old slipper to chew and then expect him to differentiate between an old and an expensive pair of shoes.
- Tug Toys – Rubber Ring, Pull Rope, etc: The dog uses these toys to play games of strength, dominance and possession, usually ‘inviting’ the pet parent to play. These toys are designed to allow the dog to ‘own’. The dog needs to be properly trained for the same. Stop the game when you think that the dog is pulling too hard.
Tips to follow…
- Keep the play sessions with the toys small.
- After the play session, keep the toys away from the reach of the dog.
- Use toys to communicate with your dogs. A good behaviour can be rewarded with a pat on his back and/or treat.
- Look for toys in which you can put frozen treats to keep your dog busy while you are away.
- Do ensure the toys are of good quality.
- Choose toys according to the age and interest of your pet.
- Look for interactive toys which stimulate your dog’s mind.
- It is very important to supervise your dog when you give him a chew toy.
- Ensure that a toy is safe for your pet.
- Pick only toys which are made for dogs.
- If a toy splinters immediately discard it.
- Never buy cheap plastic toys.
(Anand Pittie of ABK Imports is a certified canine consultant and canine trainer).