Chew On This: 6 Ways To Enrich Your Dog’s Life & Keep Things Fun
By Christine A. Bournias
Playtime Enriches Your Dog’s Life
Do you ever notice when your dog wants to play or “go potty?”
What about knowing the signs when your dog needs to go outside to use the bathroom? They may pace or whimper. They may even ring a bell hanging on the door. They might try anything to get your attention!
But, sometimes they chew on things.
Dogs often will start chewing on something to communicate to you that they need to go out. They suddenly get playful and work hard to entertain you. And if they’re a young puppy, they might even run to get your leather shoes—or make a dive for your sofa’s wooden leg. Chewing on your heels or furniture—not a good outcome.
Toys And Your Dog
Dog toys. We love them. We buy them for our dogs. Well, let’s be honest, we buy them for us.
We let our dogs play with toys because it’s fun for both of us. Funny looking plush toys seem to make life more joyful. Toys make us smile because our dogs suddenly get happy when they’re allowed to run around with a pink cupcake in their mouth. Besides, striped monkeys in your dog’s toy bin make for a great topic of conversation.
Dog’s Want To Play. Give Them Something To Chew On.
As it turns out, there may be more to the statement “give that dog a bone” than we think. Gnawing on something pet friendly, healthy, and sturdy can provide hours of chewing enjoyment. Chew toys can be a positive, proactive approach to a dog’s desire to chomp and munch. Stay one step ahead of your dog’s chewing needs and get familiar with all the chew choices available.
Many pet parents find these favorite chew picks at Best Friends Pet Hotel. They’re beneficial at enriching your dog’s life. Pick up these gems next time you visit the Hotel:
- Barkworthies Bully Sticks
- Barkworthies Elk Antlers
- Barkworthies Bones
- Etta Says Mega Chews
© Photo Credit: Barkworthies
“All I do is give him one of those smoked beef shin bones, and Buddy is occupied for hours! He LOVES his chew toys.” —Denise T.
How To Keep Your Dog’s Life Fun & Happy In 6 Easy Steps
1. Switch Things Up
Much like children, dog toys are more exciting when they’re new. To peak their interest, switch out your dog’s toys from time to time. Toggle their toys in the toy bin every month—or at the very least, with the change of seasons. Different toys at times of the year will accommodate puppy growth spurts and will keep things exciting for your adult dog.
- Play Trade You: Every once and awhile, ask your dog to hand it over. In exchange, give them a high value treat. Repeat this ask back and forth several times. Soon, trading becomes a fun game.
- Limit Time: Keep them wanting more by varying toy or chew times. Playtime will become something special.
- Freshen Up Plush Toys: Besides getting dirty, soft toys can collect dust mites. Place your pet’s plush items in the washing machine on the gentle cycle with a natural laundry detergent. Or, sprinkle plush toys with baking soda and add two (2) capfuls of white vinegar during the rinse cycle.
- Chew Toys: Keep toys clean by soaking them in warm water, then rinse under running cold water. Towel dry. Always check your dog’s toy labels for cleaning instructions and administration directions. Most long lasting toys are top shelf, dishwasher safe.
- Purchase New Toys: It’s a good idea to have a bunch of fresh, clean toys available.
- Good Stuff: Try adding a dollop of peanut butter, plain yogurt, or cottage cheese to the end of your dog’s chew toy. This special dap often initiates chew time.
- Toy Names: Do you want to impress your friends? Keep things fun and interesting for your dog. Teach them the names of their toys. Name games keep their cognitive ability sharp by enhancing their vocabulary. Start with one (1) or two (2) objects. Allow your dog the opportunity to nudge each toy from scent before saying the word out loud. Mark and reward small successes. First, keep things simple, then build their vocabulary by gradually adding more complex items to the mix.
How Many Toy Names Can YOUR Dog Learn?
A Border Collie from South Carolina, Chaser—fondly named a canine Einstein—learned the names of 1,022 different objects. She lived with her Ethologist master, John Pilley who even taught his dog verbs to apply to toy objects. (i.e. “get it”, “paw it”, “nose it”) Thanks to Pilley’s guardianship, Chaser, who passed in 2019, was considered the smartest dog in the world to date. —The Last Word, Time Magazine
2. Monitor Playtime
A healthy dog is a playful dog—that includes their desire to toss around plush toys and nibble on chew toys. Always monitor your dogs when they have any kind of toy. The best toys are satisfying and safe for your pooch. Keep harmless, healthy products on hand.
Teach your dog how to share their toys at an early age, especially if you have children or other pets in your home.
Be certain to always supervise your dog with any toy. Learn about resource guarding and other animal behaviors before introducing valuable chew treats or plush toys to your dog.
Dogs are a descendant of the wolf family. Therefore, it’s in their nature to guard what they consider to be a valuable resource. In their mind—and at any given moment, a stick could be considered theirs. A stuffed animal is theirs. A chew toy is theirs. Even their owner or other four-legged housemates are theirs. Anything that they view as “theirs” is a treasured source.
When your dog plays with toys, monitor them in a controlled, safe environment.
3. Limit Chew Time
Your dog’s dental health is important. Chewing is a good way to stimulate your dog’s gums and clean their teeth. However, it’s good to space out chew time. Limiting nibble time will allow your dog a chance to save energy for a well deserved chomping session at a later time.
TIP: If your dog ever gets bored or uninterested in their chew toy, try dowsing it in bone broth and placing it in the freezer. When cool, this yummy treat is now a whole “new” toy!
Always make it a good thing when you take any toy away from your dog. Teach them your presence is a positive thing and that your hands aren’t the enemy. When you exchange out their toy, have an equally high value reward to replace it with. Toss a treat to them at a distance before moving close and work with them for weeks or months until it’s just a common part of their chew time. Monitor children and inexperienced dog owners.
4. Play Games
Games allow your dog to think through and solve problems on their own. Supplement your chew toys with things that are interactive like puzzles or treat dispensing toys for encouraging mental stimulation.
Teaching your pooch new tricks like pushing novelty buttons, ringing door handle bells, or turning on and off light switches can be fun, yet useful in urgent circumstances.
Most notable, games are helpful in communication between you and your dog. When dogs learn tricks, they learn how to bond with you.
5. Keep Your Dog’s Toy Bin Full
Even a few plush toys and chew products in the toy bin are a smart idea. Playful toys can enrich your dog’s life.
Keep the “fun” in funny toys. Yes, goofy toys are entertainment for us mostly, but they can be quite enjoyable for your dog too. What’s more fun than to see your pooch parade around with a stuffed bottle of champagne or a little mailbox filled with love letters?
FUN DOG TOYS TO EXCHANGE FOR VALENTINE’S DAY:
- Brut Rose Champagne Bottle Dog Toy
- Puppy Love Bone Toy
- Squeaky Mailbox with Love Letters Toy
- Striped Sock Monkey Dog Toy
- Valentine’s Burrow Hide & Seek Heart and Bears Dog Toy
PLAY IT SAFE:
- Supervise playtime
- Inspect chew toys to avoid splintering
- Watch that your dog doesn’t remove the stuffing out of their toys
- If toys have plastic eyes, remove them to prevent swallowing
- Check that inside squeakers are in tact
6. Get involved
Just like children, without playtime, dogs can act out. Stay connected. Spend time playing with your dog often. Being playful isn’t only good for your dog’s health, but it’s good for you too. Make time to be silly and laugh with your pooch. Not out of obligation—just for fun. Be in their world, they’ll love the time you invest in their well-being.
Ever open the door for your dog to go outside in your backyard? “Go potty!” Your dog just stands there, watching you. Then your dog wants to come inside. Then they want to go out. Then they want to come back in. Then go out. Come in. Go out. Come in. This could go on all day, if you let it. Did you ever think your dog just needs you to be in the backyard playing with them? Take a quick five (5) minutes out of your day. That time commitment could very well be the best few minutes of their day!
Our dogs often have more energy than us. It’s easy for us to want to come home and put our feet up. But, that’s when our dogs seem to need us most. They need our time. They want us to play.
Exercise patience with your pup. Give them 10-15 minutes of all out play. Get on all fours—and game on. Your dog will love it. Besides, taking time to play might complete your day as well.
Dogs must process and acclimate into our world. It’s up to us to allow them to play a bit in their own world too. We owe it to them to try and understand this desire. If we own a dog (or three), we have a responsibility.
So, grab a little bone shaped tug toy with little red hearts and get playing.
- Socialize with other dogs and people
- Research spacious, safe dog parks in your area
- Take a walk in the park: (If your trot around the block gets routine, try going the opposite direction or explore a new route. Your dog will appreciate the new smells and sights.)
- Try Doggy Day Camp! This option gives your dog a chance to be around other creatures like themselves. Camp is fun and it gives them an opportunity to expend pent up energy.
- Set up individual play dates with their favorite dog bestie
- Just for fun—pick a friend your dog plays well with, and exchange a toy with them
- Give your dog playtime breaks on a regular basis to avoid overstimulation
- If your dog likes to retrieve toys, sticks, or other toys, play fetch
- The game hide and seek allows your dog the chance to keep looking for you
- Learn advanced tricks. Then go back to something simple like a “sit.”
- Practice ‘sits’ and ‘stays’ often
“When I started playing with my dog, I started loving him even more.” —Becky M.
Stay Fun And Safe: Enrich Your Dog’s Life Through Play
Toys are a good expression of our love, however, it’s not enough to just throw a toy at your dog.
Spend time with your dog, show them good play and long lasting toys. Enroll them in a supervised dog environment with trained professionals. Dogs interact best in a controlled environment with other dogs that share their size and temperament.
About The Author:
Christine A. Bournias resides in Michigan with her 2-pack; two new beautiful adopted miracles. As her “Angelwriter”, Nicodemus (1997-2010) is the wisdom behind the stories she shares. Christine champions the magnitude of building the bond between a dog and their person(s) by means of respectful communication and enduring admiration.