Not All Toys are Chew Toys: The different Kinds of Dog Toys and their Benefits
One of the most common misconceptions amongst dog owners is that chewing behavior is considered playtime for dogs. The second one is that all dog toys are chew toys. But unless it involves food/treats, or the dog in question is teething (shedding puppy teeth and growing adult teeth), chewing is actually not a play behavior at all! On the contrary, chewing on non-edible items is a sign of boredom, anxiety (self-soothing), or discomfort in dogs.
HOW DO DOGS CURE BOREDOM?
In today’s busy world where work, fitness, friends, electronics, family life, and chores are all competing for our time, it is very easy to forget that our dogs are 100% dependent on us for entertainment.Dogs can’t sit on the couch with some popcorn and binge-watch their favorite show all day while you're working. They can’t log into their Facebook and interact with their friends. They can’t grab their car keys and go out for brunch with the girls…
So what do they do? They find their own ways to cure boredom. Since they can’t read and they don’t have opposable thumbs, to cure boredom, they use what they can - their mouth.
THE FORMULA FOR A DESTRUCTIVE DOG
Ever hear the saying "a bored dog is a destructive dog?" Yeah, it's true. For the vast majority of dogs, the go-to activity to cure boredom is usually chewing/shredding things. If they don't have anything else to do and all they are exposed to are random things they can chew on, eventually, the dog comes to believe that their purpose is to chew everything up.
NOT ALL CHEWING IS BAD
Under certain circumstances, chewing on bones and chew toys can let some of the steam off and keep your dog busy for a short period of time. But providing your dog only with chew toys all their life is a recipe for disaster. How entertaining do you think it is to be left with just one task to do for most of your life? Imagine if you were trapped at home all day, and all you are left with is a fidget spinner- and that is all you are allowed to play with forever. Doesn't sound like a very fun life, does it?
Knowing is half the battle, and here at Tearribles we are on a mission to improve the dog-human relationship and understanding of each other.
THE FIVE MAIN CATEGORIES OF DOG TOYS
- Chew Toys. We like to call these “boredom busters.” These toys are usually made of rubber, nylon, or natural materials like wood and are built to withstand hours and hours of gnawing.Chew toys are toys that you give to your dog when you want to keep them busy while you are away from them, or need to keep them occupied while you do something else.They are toys you can usually leave unsupervised (there are exceptions to this). Think of them like fidget spinners for humans- it gives them something to do for a short period of time. After about 20-30 minutes, most dogs will usually lose interest and will need another source of entertainment.
Benefits: Chew toys serve the purpose of teeth cleaning. Dental hygiene is essential for dogs, and regular brushing of teeth is not enough for proper dental hygiene. Some places are left inside the mouth that are hard to reach. The threads of chew toys play with dog instincts and become tooth floss for your furry friend.
Such toys are further helpful for massaging the gums and eliminating stuck-food particles that are not easily removed with brushing. It helps to eliminate the chances of bacterial or viral growth inside the mouth. Chew toys also play the role of mental stimulation dog toys.
- Comfort Toys. These are most commonly known as plush toys, aka "plushies." Comfort toys for dogs are usually made of soft materials like plush and are designed for nothing but cuddling. They provide dogs with the same type of comfort that babies get when holding their favorite plushie. Sometimes they have a squeaker in them that a dog will find entertaining to compress. Comfort toys can also be used in a game of fetch if the pup is interested in fetch toys.
Benefits: There are a lot of reasons for anxiety in dogs. Most common among them is separation anxiety. Pet parents often don't understand that dogs depend on their owners for entertainment and pleasure. Those pet parents who understand their dogs use comfort toys to help them through different kinds of anxieties.
Comfort toys serve both purposes: the first one is to distract your dog and indulge in a new activity of keeping their "companion" safe, and the second one is to relieve his anxiety. A comfort toy makes sure that your dog spends the hours away from you with a familiar “friend.”
- Interactive Toys. These toys are usually every dog’s favorite type of toy. They come in various shapes and sizes, can be made of various materials, and are designed for dogs and humans to play with together. Toys that fall into this category are chase toys, fetch toys, & hide and seek toys. No matter what shape or size they come in, they have one thing in common- they require the human to participate in play time. Dogs’ all-time favorite toy, the tennis ball, is an interactive toy. Tearribles are also interactive toys. The reason interactive toys are usually dogs’ favorites are because 1) they get to play (aka spend quality time) with their human, and 2) because they get physical and mental stimulation at the same time. This usually results in a happy, tired dog.
Benefits: The core benefit of interactive toys is to grab the attention of your dog and provide them with lots of mental and physical exercise, which can very effectively tire out even the highest energy dogs. These toys quickly become your dog’s favorite kind of toy. Interactive dog toys will make your furry friend's life extremely happy and healthy. These toys can be used for training purposes.
- Tug Toys. These are usually built out of rope or nylon materials for dogs who like to play tug and keep away. Tugging can be played between a dog and a human or two dogs. Tearribles make very fun tug toys once introduced properly.
Benefits: Humans need exercise for health and fitness; the same is true for dogs. Exercise is essential for the mental and physical health of your dog. Exercise has been proved to be a fun and rewarding activity that floods your dog's brain with serotonin and maintains weight, preventing diseases. Dogs have the instinct to snatch and tug toys, which provides them the best opportunity to express their behavior in the most healthy way. Tug toys can motivate your lethargy dog to stand up and move. It can be a good motive for your dog to exercise and avail of mental and physical health benefits.
- Puzzle Toys aka Mental Stimulation Toys. These toys are usually made of plastic or wood and come in many shapes and sizes- square, rectangular, round...you name it. They have various types of compartments in which you can hide treats. Once loaded with treats, the puzzle toy is then presented to the dog, who gets to solve the mystery: how to get the treats out of each compartment. Hint: you can use Tearrible limb pockets to hide treats in for extra fun play time.
Benefits: Different dog breeds have different physiological needs. Dogs are intelligent, and the smarter they are the more mental stimulation (vs physical stimulation) they require. Mental stimulation toys can provide them with a challenge that will keep them happy and get those brains working. Puzzle toys are the most sophisticated ways to stimulate your furry friend's brain. It's comparable to solving crosswords or
It is important to understand that if you don't indulge your dog in mentally-stimulating activities, they will spend their energies on destructive behaviors. Therefore, puzzle toys, aka mental stimulation toys, are essential for your furry friend to live a happy, healthy life.
SO WHAT TOYS SHOULD I GET FOR MY DOG?
Your dog should ideally have at least two toys from each category. You can put half of them away, and rotate them every few weeks for more excitement. While different breeds have different activity and mental stimulation needs, most dogs will enjoy variety of play styles, with one or two being their favorite. We will cover more about breeds and their instincts in our post called Play Needs for Different Breeds.
So now that you are an expert on dog toys, you can learn how to save your wallet and provide your dog with a great life by showing them how to play with different toys. Read our