Playtime is often a dogs favourite part of the day, and you only need to look at their happily wagging tails to see how much dogs enjoys exercise and stimulation. The benefits of play are often spoken about, as bored dogs can be destructive, and playtime can be vital, not just for health reasons, but to help establish relationships with their owners.
If your dog is lively, fetches and presents its toys, or generally wants attention, then it is often ready for play. It’s important that you, as a dog owner, are in control of playtime though, so make sure you always start and end games, so your dog will know you are in control, and the dominant force at playtime.
Choosing toys is equally as important as the time you spend playing with your dog. You should always look out for toys that are specifically designed for dogs, and avoid anything with harmful parts or anything they could choke on. It’s also important to think about how old your dog is, and choose toys suitable for that age. Puppies for example, will need softer toys that won’t be too hard on their jaws, while an older dog with a developed jaw can handle tougher rope toys. Dogs also love to suck and chew, so be prepared to supervise your dogs playtime, and dispose of any toys which are too torn or chewed up. You won’t want your dog to damage themselves on sharp edges, or swallow any toy stuffing, as unfortunately, no toy is 100% dog proof.
With all the advice in mind, it’s then time to go shopping for dog toys. If you are buying a puppy, then one of the first things you need to look into buying is chew toys. These are very important when your puppy reaches the teething stage, and has sore gums. It will also help distract them from chewing other things in the house, when they are searching for some relief. You might want to consider the special teething toys that can be frozen, if your puppy is in a lot of pain with his cutting teeth.
The other toys on the market can roughly be broken down into 3 main categories: There are the toys such as balls and frisbees which you can throw, these prove to be very popular with dogs, who will happily play fetch for long periods. There are also toys which have treats hidden in them, perfect for the inquisitive dog, which will keep them amused for ages, as they happily lick their treats out. There are also toys which dogs will happily play with by themselves, such as squeaky toys or soft animals.
If your dog ever gets bored of his toys, you could also consider teaching them some dog agility exercises, or take up the exciting game of flyball. However you decide to play with your dog, make sure they know what they can and can’t play with/chew, and make sure playtime is part of their regular routine. Toys can go a long way to contributing to a dogs well-being after all.