Dogs Just Wanna have Fun: Variety is the key to the perfect doggie toy box
All dogs love toys and you will instantly become your Dachshund puppy’s best friend by ensuring the toy box is well stocked with a variety of fun stuff for both indoor and outdoor games as well as interactive playthings to keep her amused when she is home alone.
Shopping to stock up the toy box can be a lot of fun. There’s a mind boggling selection to choose from that caters specifically for puppies and smaller breeds like Dachshunds. While toy trends follow consumer demands for high-end, high tech toys that appeal to both people and canines, manufactures are also cognizant that play stuff also has to meet general health needs such as teething, as well as stimulating a young dog’s mind and matching its energy levels.
“Playing with toys from puppyhood encourages good behavior and social skills throughout its life,” says dog trainer Harrison Forbes of Savannah Tenn. “A happy, playful dog is a content and well-adjusted one.
“Also, because all puppies chew to soothe their gums and help loosen puppy teeth, they should always have easy access to several different toys.”
A well stocked toy box should contain three main categories of toys. Fortunately, many toy manufacturers make it easy for puppy owners to shop by spelling out these differing canine needs and requirements on the packaging.
Action toys are anything that you can throw or roll that will instantly put your puppy into fetch mode, running to retrieve it and bringing it back to you with barking instructions to do it all over again. Small tennis balls, hard rubber balls and Frisbees rank highly in this category. Many hard rubber toys intertwined with rope or other durable materials that also have a bounce in them will also fit into this section.
Action toys allow you to play many interactive games with your puppy which in turn positively enhances the human-animal bond.
These toys are usually made from very durable non-toxic rubber materials. Many can be frozen ( especially if the puppy is teething) or alternatively stuffed with treats or tidbits of your dog’s favorite biscuits or even a good dollop of peanut butter. The latter kind are often also called brain teasers because they give your puppy the task of trying to figure out how to remove the edible delights and are designed to keep them busy for hours. Some of the high tech gadgetry in this category allows you to record a message which automatically plays as the toy rolls around. It is this type of toy that you would give a puppy to give them occupied when they are home alone.
Soft stuffed toys have a double role in the toy box. For some puppies, they offer comfort — a kind of security blanket for pets that need reassurance. Other dogs regard squeaky chickens and woolly sheep as “prey toys” and will set about shaking and subduing them.
KIDS AND PUPPIES
“Personally, if there are kids in the household, I don’t recommend giving your puppy squeaky toys, because it’s going to have a hard time differentiating what belongs in its toy box and what officially belongs to the children,” says Forbes. “I prefer to give them a soft cuddly blanket to create their own comfort zone instead. It’s sometimes easier for both the puppy and any children in the household to understand that this belongs strictly to the dog.
“At the same time, kids have to be taught not to tease a puppy by offering it their toys. When dealing with very young children, this is something that you may need to reiterate on a daily basis.
“I know a lot of toys emulate household items such as newspapers and shoes, but I also like to encourage new puppy owners to offer their puppy toys that are dissimilar to such items so that there is no confusion with the real thing.”
“If you want a young puppy to learn what toys belong in the doggie toy box as opposed to the kids’ toys chest, allow them to play with it a couple of times before actually putting it in amongst the other toys,” suggests certified behaviorist Steve Dale of Chicago, Ill. “This way, when the puppy picks it up, it will automatically recognize its own scent on it.
“Dachshunds can be very creative and independent thinkers and, if they are bored, they are likely to come up with their own games around the house which more than likely won’t meet with your approval. Consequently, I believe that puppies younger than six months should be crated when left home alone and given a toy stuffed with treats to keep it occupied.
“Further,” suggests Dale, “when it’s older and properly housetrained, it’s a great idea to place toys all over the house and allow your dog to conduct its own treasure hunt. Dachshunds are working dogs and I am all for letting them work for their meals by putting their entire meal ration inside various toys. Apart from keeping them busy, it’s great for their digestion because they can’t eat everything quickly.”
For the first few occasions, your puppy is home alone it’s a good idea to ensure it’s been well exercised and is tired.
“This way, you are setting your dog up for success by leaving it at home knowing that it will be happy and entertained with its own toys and that it will not look for trouble,” says Dale.
“Also, because Dachshunds characteristically love to dig and bury things, if you have a place in your garden that you can allot to your dog for this type of enjoyment, all the better. You can let the dog know that this designated area is okay by burying one of its toys filled with threats here and allowing it the enjoyment of digging it up.”
TOYS AS TRAINING TOOLS
“Toys are great for teaching young puppies basic commands,” says Forbes. “If you present your dog with a nice variety in its toy box, you will soon be able to distinguish what it considers to be its favorite toy. It should then be removed from the general toy selection and used as an incentive to teach basic commands such as “sit” and “stay”.
“The best way to teach these basic commands is to build them into a game. For example, if your puppy’s favorite toy is a rubber-shaped bone with tassels that it loves to play throw and fetch with, then you have instantly established its favorite toy and favorite game. Next, all you have to do is introduce the command you’re teaching into the game and when the dog responds positively, it gets to play with its favorite toy as the ultimate reward.
“With very young puppies it’s important only to teach them basic commands and not go into overdrive with serious obedience training,” warns Forbes. “By the age of six months, you can use a favorite toy to teach it to “sit” and also to “stay” for a brief period. It’s unrealistic to try and impress your friends by commanding your young puppy to sit and then throwing a slice of pizza on the floor and expect it not to move! People often expect way too much form a young dog which means that they encounter training problems as the dog gets older.”
“The secret is to take it slow. However, as your puppy matures, you can continue to use its favorite toy to teach it other commands.”
LEARNING TO SHARE WITH OTHER DOGS
“If there are older dogs in the household, they need to learn to share the toys with a newcomer,” says Forbes. “You will automatically limit any problems if there is plenty in the toy box to choose from. And if they do scrap, let them sort things out for themselves. When owners get involved they send out confusing signals to the alpha dog, creating conflict and setting up a behavioral issue whereby the older dog feels it has to restore the natural balance in the household by trying to rectify the situation all the time. If left alone, they will learn to sort it out and simultaneously become respectful of each other.
“ Once it learns to share, there’s nothing better for a young puppy than to have another canine playmate in the household. They will play with each other for hours until they are literally dog tired!”
THE PERFECT TOY BOX
There’s no shortage of fun toy boxes shaped like bones, kennels and even fire hydrants. Buy a box that’s easy to wash out and keep clean.
To keep the games fresh and fun, it’s a good idea to rotate the toys on a weekly basis. Very few toys are totally indestructible, and by exchanging the toys, you can also check to see that they are in good condition. Items that are too small can be easily swallowed or, at worst, get stuck in your pet’s throat. Avoid toys with glued-on decorations such as button eyes and decals, or, remove them beforehand. Be extra wary of squeaky plush toys because the curious will devour the toy deliberately to find the “squeaker”. This part, once separated from its material casing, can be dangerous for a young puppy as well as adult dogs.
If you dog is particularly fond of a certain toy, buy duplicates and stash them away.
This article is from Dachshund Puppies