a PRINT PAGE of this article,
When you look
for toys to entertain your new puppy, you must consider the
safety or danger of each one. "Safe" toys for your dog will be
determined by the puppy’s size, age, chewing history and
activity level. As you get to know your puppy’s personal
preferences, you can expand his toy chest. Remember that he will
need toys for several different situations and what is safe to
play with during supervised playtime may not be suitable to
leave in the crate with the puppy while you are gone to work.
Like children, puppies seem to have an innate ability to find
and are ALWAYS attracted to, the most dangerous object in the
area. Puppy-proof your play area and be sure to check for
children’s toys, poisonous plants, plastic bags or small objects
that could be ingested, like string, rubber bands or paper
clips. Make sure you puppy-proof ALL areas of the house or yard
that your puppy will have access to.
As your puppy grows and his chewing habits change, be sure to
remove and discard inappropriate toys. Baby puppy toys that are
too small can become choking hazards as your puppy gets bigger.
Also, you need to remember to regularly re-evaluate your puppy's
play areas. As your puppy grows, he will be able to reach new
dangers in previously safe places.
Avoid purchasing toys that have small parts that could be chewed
off and/or ingested. Immediately discard any toy that begins to
break into pieces or that your puppy has chewed pieces off
of. You should also avoid rawhide treats and toys as they are
especially dangerous choking hazards for puppies. Many dogs are
also sensitive to rawhide and may have digestive upset after
chewing on rawhide toys or treats.
Use "tug-of-war" toys for puppy only play. Tie one end to a
solid object (make sure whatever you tie it with is either puppy
safe or high enough that the puppy cannot reach it) and let the
puppy play with the tug toy by himself. Do not use these toys
for play between you and your puppy. Games that set you up in
competition with your puppy or that encourage aggressive
behavior are always inappropriate. Be sure and teach children
this rule and enforce the concept so they understand not to do
anything that teaches the puppy to be aggressive.
Save treats like hooves and pig’s ears for supervised
playtimes. Restricted toys should also include toys with
squeakers and most plush toys. Plush toys labeled for children
under 3 do not contain dangerous fillings, but that does not
mean that the filling is actually edible if your puppy should
chew up the toy. Be sure that plush toys are machine washable.
Some dogs feel the need to kill squeaking objects and may
actually eat the squeakers out of toys if they can get to them.
Even puppies that have previously done well with squeaky toys
should not be left unsupervised with these toys. You never know
when your puppy may suddenly decide that he must kill this
Hard rubber or nylon toys like Kong products and Nylabones are
safe and last longer than soft toys. These items are available
in many sizes and shapes and the Nylabones have flavorings added
to help attract and keep your puppy’s interest. If your puppy
tires of the Kong toy too quickly, break up his favorite dog
biscuits, mix with peanut butter, fill the Kong and watch the
games begin. Of course, we don't recommend that you do this on
the carpet! Other versions of this toy are the cubes and balls
that can be filled with small treats. The puppy must push the
toy around with his nose or paws and he is randomly rewarded for
his efforts. This can keep the puppy entertained for hours if
he's a real chow hound.
I also highly recommend the knotted “rope” toys. These can be
thrown in the washing machine with bleach to keep them clean and
I have yet to find a teething puppy that won’t chew on one.
There is of course the old stand by tennis ball too. Watch for
weak areas that could be chewed through if you have an
aggressive chewer and throw any balls away that seem worn out.
Keep a toy chest for your puppy and rotate four or five
different toys out weekly so he doesn’t get bored. Make an
exception for his obvious “favorite” by leaving it out all the
time. Try to provide different types of toys so that your puppy
will have a toy to fetch, a soft “baby” to snuggle with, a toy
to chew, one to roll and maybe that evil squeaky one that needs
to be “killed!”
On snowy days or when you just don’t have time to take your
puppy for his regular walk, try a game of "Hide and Seek" with
his toys or treats. An interactive game of finding toys and/or
treats is a good way to work off pent up energy. This type of
interactive play is very important for your relationship with
your puppy. It can help reduce stress due to confinement,
isolation or boredom and it gives you an opportunity to work on
your puppy’s socialization and appropriate/inappropriate
behavior with people.
Fetch games are also great training exercises, so be sure and
pick up several toys that are easy for the puppy to pick up and
carry. Insist that your puppy learn to retrieve and release
without a fight and never chase your puppy to get the toy back.
Start teaching retrievals with the puppy on a long lead so you
can reel him back and exchange the toy for a treat and praise.
As he learns this concept, reduce the frequency of treats and
begin asking the puppy to "sit" when he returns to you.
Eventually, you can eliminate the treats and just use play and
continued play as rewards for returning.
Your puppy's Toy Chest should
NOT contain any of the following items:
or shoes - if you choose to do this you might as well open your
closet and let the puppy choose his own items as you are giving
the dog permission to destroy your possessions!
toys - children's toys are not made for dogs and should not be
given to your puppy.
toys or other soft items that are easily shredded.
rubber, "plush" or stuffed items or plastic items from which a
piece could be chewed or pulled off and which might choke or
suffocate the dog.
- Items with hard
and/or sharp points or edges.
- Items with attachments
that could be chewed or broken off and might be swallowed.
rope, twine, yarn, baggies, plastic bags, twist ties or any
other item not specifically designed for dogs.
- Any item
that is not size or age appropriate. (Some "puppy" toys may be
too soft for adult dogs and some large dog toys are
inappropriate for small dogs or puppies.)
- Any item
that is small enough to fit into the dog's mouth and that could
be fully or partially swallowed.
- Any item
that is disintegrating, losing stuffing, pieces or that is
otherwise falling apart.
If you have any
questions or would like more information about
our Cocker Spaniels,
Sandcastle Kennels 2009
April 15, 2009
The toys above can be
LittleRiverPetShop.com or at
2 of my favorite on-line
shopping locations are