Source: Gigwi Australia
It is that little flutter of love, that irresistible face that sees us crack a smile, makes us look at our dogs not just as pets, but as a treasured family member. So, when it comes to caring for your four-legged friends you want to do the very best you can for them.
Given that looking after a dog is not instinctively inherited or easily communicated like it is a child, you are often confronted with the daunting task of choosing the right food, medication and toys for your dog without ever being able to ask, “Do you like it?”. So how do you really determine what is best?
You need to start at the beginning, particularly when it comes to choosing the right toys for your dog. When choosing a dog toy, you need to go back and understand the fundamental question, “Why do dogs need to play with toys?”.
Domestic dogs have been working along side humans for thousands of years, originally bred specifically for hunting and farming protection. I often hear people say “We never had half these toys back in my day and my dogs were fine”, and whilst that might be true, the job description and lifestyle of the modern day pampered pooch has changed significantly over the last century. From active hunter or farm dog to a fluffy companion, a cute couch potato and provider of love and comfort.
To stop us from all having to quit our jobs to hunt the land with our doggy companion, modern-day dog toys have emerged in their thousands to help entertain and train our furry friends.
Dog toys serve a vital purpose in a dog’s mental development and can provide great physical exercise. They also help strengthen the human-animal bond, as well as being a powerful tool for behaviour modification.
While admittedly your dog is never really thinking why they pull their favourite dog toy out of the pile, there are behaviours that drive them during playtime that we can use toys to stimulate. Let us take a look at some of the types of toys you can buy and why they work.
Chewing is a normal behaviour in dogs. It is instinctively built into them to keep their jaws strong and their teeth clean, as well as a stimulating form of exercise and a way to relieve stress and anxiety. In this way, chew toys are like the multi tool of the dog world. It is important that you provide your dog, whether it be a puppy or an adult, a variety of attractive and safe chew toys.
As an added bonus, if you do this you will help teach them what is OK to chew and avoid them gnawing on the brand-new lounge or your favourite pair of shoes. Given the function of a chew toy, they prove to be a very popular choice amongst dog owners, and as such, the choice is endless.
What is important when selecting a chew toy for your canine friend is the type of material it is made of. The primary function of a chew toy is to be inside a dog’s mouth. They gnaw or lick the toy and if it has toxins like BPA, Phthalates or Lead, the toxins can end up in the dogs blood stream without them even swallowing any piece of the toy.
Increasingly, companies are moving towards using Thermoplastic Rubber (TPR), which is widely used in medical devices and children’s toys. Quality toys made with TPR rubber are BPA and PVC (which contain Phthalates) free, whilst still being durable against dogs’ teeth.
Dogs, like humans, are very social animals. Driving interactive play between you and your dog, or them and their furry mate from down the road, is a way to not only positively cement the bond you have with them, but to also fulfill that need for social interaction that they have. There are a couple of interactive games you can play with your dog that will satisfy their deep-rooted instincts to search, chase, grab and tug.
As canines, your dog has a natural urge to grab and pull on things with their mouth, which comes from the act of hunting in the wild. A good old session of tug-of-war with your dog provides a highly interactive activity for both you and your dog, and a great form of mental and physical exercise.
The best type of toys for this are those with rope, or a combination of rope/plush or rope/rubber that are made to provide a safe way for you to play with your dog in this way.
The classic game of fetch, usually one of the first things that you teach your dog, right? Hunting and retrieving food is a behaviour that has been bred into domestic dogs over thousands of years, so much so that it is now something that is pleasurable and exciting for them.
This is why fetch, whether it be a sturdy ball or a toy that you can toss, is a great form of physical exercise for them, as well as a way to build on the bond you have with your dog.
Whilst this may come as a surprise to many of you when you look at that little lump at the end of your couch, dogs are thinkers, very inquisitive by nature and they love to hunt! They have a sense of smell that cannot be beaten.
Food dispensing toys allow you to put food or treats inside them, and leave the dog to roll, nudge, shake and nibble until the food comes out. This requires time, patience and problem-solving skills and will help your pooch enjoy quiet time alone, naturally helping to solve boredom and stop them digging a hole in the lawn.
A little “insiders trick” is to start giving part of their daily meal in a food dispensing toy, which works to both stop them inhaling their food in 5 seconds flat, as well as keep them entertained when you go to work.
Let’s be real, a lot of you will have a dog that is in love with stuffed plush toys.
They will carry them around everywhere they go, or sit there licking it, snuggled right up to it, or literally try and shake it to death. But have you ever though why they so obsessed?
One theory is that a lot of dogs bred for hunting and retrieving like to have things in their mouth, it is something that is innate in their nature. Another reason could be they can really bite down and shake the toy around, almost like a simulated kill. Personally, I think there is a certain comfort and smell that surrounds a plush toy that encourages them to collect and play with toys just like a human child would do.
It is important when selecting stuffed toys that you give your dog one that is safe, avoiding anything with plastic eyes or little pieces that can be chewed off as a choking hazard. Similarly to when you are selecting toys for a baby or toddler.
If your dog is known to be more a killer than a lover when it comes to plush toys, but you don’t want them to miss out completely, you can increase the durability of the plush toy by finding toys that use a combination of plush and TPR safe rubber.
Toys with rubber placed over the weak points, i.e. the seams, increases the toys chance of survival.
Another choice is to go for something that has rope inside with plush exterior. The rope reinforces the toy and makes it a little more durable to those that are prone to be a little more on the destructive side.
At the end of the day toys are an essential part of the modern day dogs life, and while the primary purpose that usually pushes you to invest in a new toy for your dog is exercise, there are so many other benefits.
When it really comes down to it, toys are just FUN and they can offer a bit of extra excitement into both your dog and your own lives. There is no better feeling than watching your furry companion having fun.
Check out our extensive range of GiGwi Dog Toys for your treasured family member.