They say that idle hands are the devil's playthings. The same could be said of an idle dog. When they are left in a nice, safe, but empty house for most of the day, it's bound to make them a little stir-crazy. This can cause your pet to get into trouble, such as tearing up the couch or going through the garbage. How can you stop this from happening? Keep your pet's mind engaged and distracted with some great dog toys.
There are very clever toys on the market that can be used as part of your bonding time or even given to pets before you leave for work.
#1 Interactive Treat Dog Toys
One of the best ways to give treats to your dog is through an interactive toy. These toys are designed to work like puzzles, giving treats a little at a time as a reward for your dog's persistence. One of the most popular on the market is the classic KONG rubber toy. This interactive treat toy looks a bit like a squashed red snowman with a hole on the side. Your dog can chew on the toy, nose it, flip it around, and anything else he likes to do. Every now and then a treat will fall out of the hole and give your pet some incentive to keep playing.
These work well as solo toys for when your pet is alone or when you want to keep him distracted, such as when you have guests over.
#2 Ball Launchers
Extend your reach beyond your grasp with a ball launcher. There are a wide variety of these simple devices available on the market. Most commonly seen launchers are just long rods with a cup on the end to hold the tennis ball. These launchers allow you to throw balls much further and really give your pet a workout. There are even a few set up to look like Nerf guns that shoot Multiple balls out of the barrel, which is a great feature for those with more than one dog.
Of course, this is an essential tool when playing with your pup down at the dog park.
Some breeds have a ball obsession going on and pet owners need to keep lots of these toys on hand. If you have a Border Collie, German Shepherd, or golden retriever, it's likely you have several torn up tennis balls lying around the house. Pick up a few different kinds to give your pet some variety. There are specialty squeaking tennis balls to help keep your pet engaged and also very durable rubber balls that have a lot of bounce. But, these won't break apart as easily when your pet feels like chewing.
#4 Comfort Toys
From puppyhood to old age, every dog needs a comfort toy to drag around the house. You could give your pet a traditional stuffed animal, but they aren't as well-stitched as these dog toys. Plus, comfort toys are made with very little to no stuffing so you don't have to deal with clean up in case your pet inadvertently tears his toy apart. Comfort toys are available in a variety of styles and designs from bears to chickens and a few even have squeakers inside that make noise.
This is a great solo toy that will help your pet feel more secure when sleeping or left alone in the house during the day.
#5 Knotted Rope Dog Toy
There's nothing like a tug-of-war with some knotted rope to really strengthen the bond between human and dog. These dog toys are made to last and certainly to resist being pulled or chewed on. Some also help to keep your pet's mouth clean by acting as a flosser when they chew or gnaw on the specially made rope material. Look around for knotted rope toys that are aimed at dogs. Homemade rope toys can break easily and small pieces may hurt the soft tissues inside your pet's mouth.
This is a lovely toy to keep on hand for trips to the park, but if your dog really enjoys chewing it may also work well as a solo toy.
#6 Nylon Dog Bones
If your pet loves chewing it may be time to give him or her a nylon dog bone. These are ideal because they last a long time as opposed to a rawhide chew. You won't have to keep running to the store to buy a new chew toy for your pet. Nylon bones are also made in a variety of sizes and flavors. Some are meant to taste just like jerky, mint, or peanut butter. Even better, nylon bones also help keep your pet's teeth clean. During chewing, the nylon material breaks up into bristle-like projections that act to scrape tartar off of your pet's teeth.
This is a good toy for pets to work on solo whether you're at home or out for the day.
#7 Rubber Frisbees
Some dogs just love to run and the best way to work off all of that energy is to get a game of frisbee going. Frisbee is a more advanced sport, so it may take some time to teach your dog how to play. However, the effort is well worth it to see your pet leap up and snatch that flying disc in mid-air.
Do your furry friend a favor and pick up a specially made rubber frisbee. Hard plastic frisbees can cause your pet's mouth some damage when he chomps down on it. These are flexible, but strong discs that won't crack and break in a dog's mouth. Frisbees are a good toy for bonding at the park.
Toys are just the start. It takes practice and some training to really enjoy play time with your pet. If you're having some trouble mastering games, consider getting some help. The Training an Untrained Dog Series includes lessons on Playing Games with Your Dog. Learn how you can interact with and communicate with your pet on a deeper level.