Category Archives: dog toys

5 Simple and Inexpensive Toys for Dogs

dog toy johnBy Laurie Darroch

As much as we love our dogs, the toys they play with can be expensive. We enjoy spoiling them, but sometimes we just have to resist the urge to buy them new toys.  The good news is, you do not have to spend a fortune on dog toys to keep your canine companions entertained. Simple toys can be just as much fun! Here are 5 alternatives to expensive dog toys.

Bubbles

Make or buy some non-toxic bubble solution and use either a battery powered bubble blower that makes a lot of bubbles one right after the other, or a simple inexpensive dollar store bubble wand to make the bubbles one at a time. This is great exercise for your dog as well as being a fun game for them. Watching your dog chase the bubbles is entertaining for you, too! Running, jumping and chasing the bubbles outside gives your dog some good leg stretching and cardio activity. A long session of chasing bubbles will burn off an active dog’s excess energy for a while.

Boxes

Cats are not the only pet fascinated with boxes and bags and their contents. Dogs can be little nosey Parkers as well, and have to find out what is in those interesting containers.  Take advantage of a dog’s natural curiosity and create a simple toy using an empty cereal box or other small food box. Put some tasty CANIDAE treats in the box, set it on the floor and see how long it takes your dog to find a way to extract the treats from the box. Then repeat to keep your dog entertained. The cardboard tube from a roll of paper towels works, too – simply flatten one end and seal it up with duct tape.

Rag Toys

Not only are these toys simple to make, they recycle old clothes into inexpensive toys for your dog. Cut off the zipper from a worn out pair of jeans. Cut the jeans into strips and tie the strips together in knots with different sized knots. The thick jean material will hold up to dog gnawing.

dog toy LynYou can make something similar with old t-shirts – cut them into thin strips and tie together to make an octopus shaped toy with a knot. This works as a tugging toy and as a throw and fetch toy. The knot gives the toy weight and helps the fabric fly when you toss it.

Put a ball inside a sock and knot the end to keep the ball in the “sock sack.” This can be used as both a tug toy and a throw toy.  If you put a really bouncy ball such as a tennis ball inside the sock, the toy will also bounce on a hard surface when you throw it for your dog to fetch.

Sticks

The old classic stick is still a favorite fetch “toy” with dogs. Pick a stick that is not too big or thick, but big enough for your dog to grab onto.

Do be aware of what type of plant or tree the stick comes from. Some types are extremely poisonous for your dog and should not be put in their mouth or used as a fetch toy. To keep your dog from swallowing splinters of wood, don’t let them chew on the stick no matter what type of tree it is from.

Plastic Jugs

This may not be a good toy for extreme chewers, although they can play with these with full supervision. Empty and wash out a plastic milk jug or use an empty large plastic water jug. Put some CANIDAE kibble in the jug and leave the cap off. Throw the container across the room. If your dog is a chaser, they will have fun charging after the noisy bottle and running around with the captured prize held by the handle.

Your dog may even play fetch with the bottle the same way they do with a stick or ball. It is humorous to see a dog run around holding the big jug between their teeth. It makes for some funny photo opportunities as well. This toy catches their attention even more when thrown on a tile or wood floor or on a patio where it makes plenty of noise.

As with any toy, store purchased or homemade, keep an eye on your dog when they are playing. Watch out for wear, inappropriate chewing, and broken parts they might ingest. As inexpensive as these homemade toys are, just throw them away or put into the recycling bin if they get too ripped or worn out to play with safely.

Top photo by John Collins/Flickr
Bottom photo by Lyn Lomasi/Flickr

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How to Choose Safe Toys for Your Dog

By Laurie Darroch

Although dogs will play with just about anything, not every dog toy is safe or appropriate for each individual dog. Choose the toys for your dog as carefully as you would for a human child, to keep them entertained and safe.

Size

Many dog toys are made specifically for a certain size of dog. Read the labels when looking for toys, and purchase the size range that is appropriate for your dog. A toy that is too big and unwieldy for a small dog or puppy may just frustrate the dog and they won’t play with it. A toy that is made for a small dog may be dangerous for a larger dog. It can even pose a choking hazard. Choose a toy that is the right size for your dog. If you have a puppy, replace his toys as he grows to keep the toys age and size appropriate.

Materials

Dog toys are made of every kind of material, from soft fabric to hard plastic or rubber and everything in between. A heavy or aggressive chewer may instantly destroy a toy that a smaller or less aggressive chewer plays with for a long time.

Always pay attention to labels. Check for toys that are non-toxic. If it is a homemade toy, be sure to use materials that are dog safe. It may look like a cute dog toy, but unless you are secure in the manufacturer or creator’s experience, it is better not to take a chance with an iffy toy.

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How to Train Your Dog to be Gentle with Toys

By Langley Cornwell

Our dog Frosty acts like every stuffed toy that comes into our home is on a dark mission from the underworld, and only she has the knowledge and the skills to protect us from its evil plan. Since we know how she acts towards plush dog toys, we don’t buy them anymore. But if a well-meaning friend brings her one as a gift, she gets a serious, determined look on her face and takes the stuffed toy to a quiet corner where she commences tearing it into tiny shreds.

It doesn’t matter if the toy has a squeaker or not, whether it’s big or small, whether it’s filled with pellets or foam; that thing is coming apart instantly. Imagine picking out a toy for a friend’s dog, as a holiday or birthday gift perhaps, and taking it over to their house. You proudly present the toy to their dog and it’s turned into a pile of rubble within seconds. How would you feel? Yeah, not good.

We wanted to teach her how to be gentle with toys. I’d like for both Frosty and our other dog Al to have a few stuffed items they could snuggle with if we’re not home. Furthermore, I don’t like the thought of her being so destructive. Even though she’s usually a gentle, sweet pup, I don’t like seeing that side of her. So we set out to train our dogs to be gentle with toys. Here is an outline of our basic game plan:

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How to Teach Your Dog to Clean Up His Toys

By Langley Cornwell

There are days when I take a break from my home office, walk into the den and shake my head at the mess. And it’s not a human mess. You see, we have a chest full of dog toys in the den and on cold, wet mornings or insufferably hot days when the dogs don’t want to play outside, one of our pooches inevitably empties the entire contents of the chest onto the floor. The result? Our den is turned into a Doggie Toyland!

I had to find a way to remedy the situation. A local dog trainer suggested I teach my dogs to pull their own weight around the house. Here are the basics for teaching your dog to clean up his toys:

Toy Container

• Consolidate your dog’s toys in a container with a wide mouth; an open plastic tub, cardboard box or giant basket will work. Make sure the toy container’s sides are low enough that your dog can simply drop a toy into it.

• Place the container in a location that is easy to access. Put some thought into this step because you need to keep the chest in that location so your dog will always know where to find the toy chest. Moving it around will confuse him.

Training Basics

• Begin this exercise when all the toys are scattered on the floor.

• Get a fistful of your dog’s favorite treats. Right now we’re using CANIDAE Bakery Snacks with Turkey, Quinoa and Butternut Squash. Slyly drop a few of the treats into the empty toy chest.

• Locate your dog’s favorite toy on the floor and call him to you. Coax him to take the toy in his mouth and walk with you to the empty toy chest.

• Point at the treat inside the chest and encourage the dog to take the treat. As he is reaching for the treat his mouth will open. If he successfully (accidently) drops the toy into the container, say your command simultaneously. We use the words “clean up.” If you clicker train your dog, click as you say the command. Then praise your dog for a job well done.

• Repeat this portion of the exercise (in short spurts, over several days or weeks) until your dog understands that “clean up” means getting a toy, carrying it to the basket and finding a hidden treat inside.

• Once he’s solid on that, stop hiding treats inside the basket. Start handing the dog his treat after he puts away each toy. Then slowly draw that out, offering a treat only after he puts away two toys, etc. Your goal is to get him to put away all of his toys and then get his reward.

Alternative Training Methods

If your dog is already solid on fetch and retrieve, you can build from there.

• Reinforce the basic fetch-and-retrieve exercises.

• Strengthen the “drop it” command when your dog brings the toy/ball to you. Work on linking fetch, retrieve and drop it. Our dogs know they have to drop the toy at our feet for the playtime to continue so they do it automatically.

• Once your dog is clear on the fetch- retrieve-drop exercise, stand behind the chest and toss a toy for your dog to retrieve. When he brings the toy back he should theoretically “drop it” into the chest. Practice this exercise until the dog understands that the toy in the chest equals praise and a treat. While giving praise and treats, say “good clean up” to reinforce your command words.

• When your dog clearly understands he gets a treat when he drops the toy in the chest, move further away from the chest and issue the command. Continue to move away from the toy chest and offer enthusiastic praise when the dog drops a toy into the chest.

You may want to practice variations of this, including pointing to toys and instructing your dog to “clean up.” Your dog should eventually be able to put his toys away with a few simple commands.

Does your dog do his share of the housework? We’re still working on all of this, so I’ll let you know how it goes. Next, I’m going to teach our pups how to mop.

Top photo by lindyi
Middle photo by star5112
Bottom photo by Alden Chadwick

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Choosing the Right Toys for Your Dog

By Lisa Mason

Your dog will become bored playing with the same old toy day after day. The toy will lay there untouched and he will look at you mournfully. This means he has lost interest in that toy and needs another one. Multiple toys of different shapes, materials and textures will allow your dog to choose the right toy for his mood.

Every Dog Needs a Chew Toy

Chew toys are a must for your dog. Sometimes a dog just wants to chew, and if he doesn’t have a toy, your furniture and shoes may be in trouble. Chew toys will satisfy the need to chew, and it will also exercise your dog’s jaws and help clean his teeth.

Make sure to pick a chew toy that is appropriate for your dog’s size. If the chew toy is too large for your dog to get a good grip on, he will get frustrated and find something else to chew on. If the chew toy is small, a large dog could choke on it.

Other Great Choices for Dog Toys

Balls and Frisbees should be next on your dog’s toy list. Even a small dog will enjoy chasing a ball or a Frisbee, and its great exercise for them. Small dogs that don’t play outside a lot will enjoy rolling the ball around the house and trying to capture it. Give the dog several balls in varying sizes. A ball should just barely fit in the dog’s mouth for him to carry it, or it should be larger for rolling games. Never let a large dog play with a tiny ball as he may choke on it.

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Why Pets Need to Play


By Linda Cole

Some form of play is found in all species of mammals. People play card games and video games, they jump out of airplanes just for fun, and engage in a host of other stimulating activities. Dogs and cats need to play for the same reason – it helps to beat boredom!

I have a cat named Pogo who was born with one back leg shorter than the other. Because of this he has a pronounced limp, but you would never know it to watch him play. He began to walk at the same time his siblings did, but instead of walking, he bounced across the floor on his back legs hopping like a kid on a pogo stick. He is now almost 5 years old and still bounces while he plays. No string, ball or cat toy can escape his clutches as he leaps and strikes at the exact right time to capture his prey. All of my cats are expert acrobats and clowns when it comes to play, and I’ve spent hours watching, laughing and playing with them as they learned important skills and life lessons through play. Dogs and cats need to play to keep their minds active and their bodies in good physical shape.

Cats need play in order to hone their skills as hunters, to learn how to socialize with us and other pets in the home, and develop good mental skills. Playing with your dog or cat is one of the best ways to bond with them. They love having their favorite human interacting with them and any moving stimulus will grab a cat’s attention. Even an older cat that has become a couch potato can’t resist something moving.

Dogs need play for many of the same reasons as cats. Puppies learn about social order in the pack by playing with their litter mates. Play gives both dogs and cats confidence and helps them lead happy and stable lives. Like cats, dogs learn important hunting skills through play. As puppies and kittens grow, the lessons they learn from playing teaches them what they need to know as adults.

Even though most dogs no longer need to depend on predatory skills, they are still learned and instilled in a dog’s mind during play. Every time they chase a stick or ball, they are learning how to chase prey. Each leaf or toy that is caught teaches a dog or cat how to pounce and attack. To them, these activities are just plain fun, but the specialized skills they are learning will never leave them. These skills are stalking, patience, sizing up their “prey” and knowing when and how to attack.

Play gives dog and cat owners an insight into their pet’s health. As dogs and cats age, most will continue to play even though it may require some coaxing from us at times. A pet who doesn’t play and doesn’t respond to a stimulus can indicate a health problem that may need to be addressed. It can also tell you if your pet is unhappy or depressed.

Just like kids, dogs and cats need to play to keep them out of trouble and help burn up excess energy. A bored pet can do a lot of damage to a garbage can, recliner or couch cushion. I had a bored cat who took on a couch pillow all by himself one afternoon. Of course he tried to blame the dog, but the dog had been confined in the basement that afternoon, far from the scene of the crime.

Dogs and cats need play to maintain a healthy mind and body. The skills they learn are invaluable as they mature. A puppy or kitten who doesn’t play will still develop normally, but they could be at a disadvantage to others their own age.

A dog will show you they want to play with a “play bow.” They lower the front part of their body to the ground and stretch out their front legs. Their back end is in the air with their tail usually wagging. Cats are always ready to pounce on anything moving and all it takes is a crumpled ball of paper to get them into a game.

Dogs and cats that play together learn how to interact with each other. The best time for puppies to be socialized is around 8 to 16 weeks and kittens between 5 and 12 weeks. Don’t be afraid to romp on the floor with your pet. Playing is fun for them, and for us!

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The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.