Dog toys importance in dog’s life:
As we all know, dogs are naturally born hunters. Seek and destroy is in their nature. In the wild, they hunt for survival. Overtime, domestication of dogs has eliminated their need to hunt on a regular basis. However, has this also rid them of their instinct to chase and kill? No. Their instincts of chase and hunt is still intact though curbed compared to their wild ancestors. This is the reason why they make great fetch players, tug of war experts and escape artists..!!
Lets have a look at the importance of dog toys to the overall development of our fur babies?
- Keeps them engaged and helps build independence: Toys are the best way to keep your little pooch engaged while you get some work done. Otherwise, as in my case, I have Delta following me everywhere around the house. So, I give him a toy full of treats. While he is busy trying to get that treat out of his toy, I can get some valuable work done either around the house or on my laptop.
On the other hand, toys allow dogs to spend time with themselves and not feel the constant need to be around us. This is very important as it builds confidence in them and promotes independent behavior.
- Tires them out: This is another great point in favor of dog toy importance. Just the way studying makes our brain tired and allows us to fall asleep, similarly, toys provide our dogs the much needed mental stimulation which tires out their brain.
Studies have shown that engagement with toys for dogs is equivalent to us solving a Sudoku puzzle. A tired dog is less likely to engage in excessive barking behavior, be a little less bothered of firecrackers and be less inclined to go outside on the evening of Halloween.
- Critical thinking and problem solving: This has to be my favorite point in relation to dog toys importance. Toys are like block puzzles for our pooches. It promotes critical thinking and problem solving behavior. It helps to develop the analytical part of the dog’s brain.
Toys also make them realize that you cannot get everything just by tearing it apart. When I give Delta a toy full of treats, his first instinct is to tear it apart and get to the treat. Eventually, he realizes that he won’t get any treat out that way. That’s when he will try to find other ways to get to that treat. He will try to insert his nails into the cloth, scratch the toy etc. thus keeping him thinking for a long time. A small time engagement with toy is almost equal to a 30 min walk.
- Helps out dog guardians during lockdown: This dog toy importance is recognized by all dog guardians who are in a work from home schedule. We may have many friends but our dogs only have their guardians. Therefore, when you are home, it is natural for your pup is natural for your pup to demand your attention.
As I mentioned earlier, if you have an important assignment of work to finish, you can give your dog a puzzle toy to keep him or her busy while you get the work done. Therefore, dog toys not only stimulate your dog’s brain, it also gives them busy when you are not available to play with them.
- Fun: This is one thing we are all familiar with. Toys are fun, even if they don’t last more than 5 minutes in our furry friend’s hands. But as long a that toy is intact, you can be sure, your fur baby is enjoying himself/herself.
- Encourages good behavior: Dogs have a natural destructive instinct. Having lots of toys can help us teach them, what they can destroy and what they cannot. Delta sleeps with us and absolutely loves ripping the mattress. However, this behavior only comes out when my husband and I are not home. Thus, purely out of boredom. A couple of times when I have caught him in the act, I have told him a stern ‘NO’. When he left the mattress and came up to me he was rewarded with a toy and treat (positive reinforcement). When he tore his toy, he was not stopped or said ‘NO’. After a few practice sessions, he understood that its okay to tear the toys but not the mattress. Thus, it promotes the good boy behavior.
- Increases bonding: Playing with our pups increases the bond of friendship. It builds up trust in them towards us. Toys have proved to be an asset in training, like in case of playing fetch. It also trains them to communicate with us. Like with Delta, if he wants to play fetch, he will bring his ball and put it on my chair or on my lap. If he wishes to play tug of war, then he will bring his homemade rope toy in his mouth and sit next to my chair. So basically, he gets to pick which game he wants to play.
- Increases social behavior: If your dog is not a visitor friendly pup and prefers to growl and bark at them, toys can provide a great solution to that problem. Before bringing the visitor in front of your dog, provide them a toy which your dog likes and ask them to give it to your pooch when they meet him/her. If the dog is presented with the toy by the visitor, it increases the chance of your dog accepting the visitor into your home.
- Reduces behavioral problems: Delta has known me since the time he opened his eyes (His mother had abandoned the litter and he would not have made it without my help. You can follow his rescue story here. So you can understand how attached he is to me. He had high separation anxiety. If he was in a room and I was standing right outside, he would keep clawing at the door and whining till I come back. If I went out of the house for work, then I would be sure to come back and see everything that Delta could get his hands on, completely trashed, chewed or torn to pieces. Now, he does not have separation anxiety anymore.
To be honest, I was never much bothered with the destruction he would cause in my absence. I always kept the most important things locked up. But I was very bothered with him eating something he should not. Thus, I started to make some homemade toys with treats for him. He would be given the toys right before I would leave.
The first time I gave him a toy and left, I came back to a house with no destruction. Thus, I have been following the same ritual till now and it works like a charm.
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Frequently asked questions
Since your pup puts the toys in his or her mouth, it is better to wash them every few days, especially his or her favorite ones.
Yes, most dog toys can be washed in the washing machine.
Most rope toys and toys made of cloth and fiber are safe for pups. However, always keep an eye out and make sure that your pup does not ingest any part of the toy.
Dogs are instinctive hunters by nature. Destroying is a part of their nature.
A lot of dogs love the squeak of the squeaky toys. If the squeaker is lost, they may lose their interest in the toy.