By Amy O'Connor
As we all know dogs love to play, and unless we provide them with appropriate toys, they will entertain themselves with any number of inappropriate kinds of “play”. My 7-month old terrier loves unraveling toilet paper and streaming it across the bathroom. She could chew on the footboard of my cherry wood bed frame for up to an hour given her druthers. Climbing onto bedside tables, tables of any sort for that matter, in search of booty to pilfer is another favorite pastime. Needless to say, I have actively sought out toys that will engage her inquisitive self and give me some rest from constant dog destruction patrol. To my great relief, there is a wonderful variety of interactive toys that engage dogs, stimulate their minds and physically challenge them too. Here are reviews of some of my top picks:
One popular category of toy is the chew toy: chew toys let dogs satisfy their prey drive especially when they’re in the shape of creatures and emit animal-like sounds. Hartz Bug Eyes are irresistible latex chew toys shaped like a ladybug or grasshopper with oversized, bulging eyes that pop out. My dog loves nothing more than mercilessly chomping on her Bug Eyes ladybug which, unlike many toys that emit short staccato squeaks, makes long, I dare say, plaintive cries that my despotic little dog feverishly relishes. I find the ladybug darn cute too and am thankful its squeaker is strong enough to withstand my dog’s canines which normally silence anything squeaking within minutes.
Hartz Nature’s Collection Quackers are plush, handsome chew toys made to resemble real ducks, and they make a realistic honking quack sound when squeezed that’s sure to bring out your dog’s inner hunter. In a large size for dogs over 20 lbs., a Quacker will give any bird dog or retriever a chance to exercise their genetic calling, but my terrier is hooked too and roams the house holding her mallard by the throat when she’s not busy shaking it by the wings or feet or making it quack.
Bringing together the fun of a plush chew toy and dogs’ love of treats, Petmate Booda Buddhas are plush animals (a dino ,a bear, a bush baby, a turtle, or a dog) with a treat dispensing ball in the center. Playing and eating at the same time, a dog’s idea of heaven!
The Plush Puppies Hide A Squirrel Puzzle Plush Hide N’ Seek Dog Toy combines the joys of plush squeaky chew toys with the challenge of a puzzle. Three adorable plush squeaker squirrels hide inside a plush tree stump with three knothole openings, and your dog must figure out how to get the squirrels out of the stump. As fast as my dog shakes or pulls out the squirrels I put them back in, and I’m convinced she’s also learning to count since she seems obsessed with keeping track of all three squirrels. Beautifully designed and made from washable fabric, treats and other toys can be hidden in the stump with the squirrels providing hours of fun for any dog.
Available online at Bestfriends General Store http://www.bestfriendsgeneralstore.com and at The Poochie Place 336 E. 5th St. (212) 598-4886
Dogit Mind Games is an interactive smart toy for small and medium size dogs that challenges your dog’s problem-solving skills and coordination with three games in one and provides a great way to bond with your dog. There are nooks with tops in which to hide treats, and your dog must figure out how to get to the treats by dislodging or sliding the tops or the spin-a-whirl wheel. Suction cups keep the plastic board from moving as your dog uses nose and paws to move the parts and get to the treats.
Available online at Luke’s All Natural Pet Food http://www.lukesallnatural.com and at Peter’s Necessities for Pets 236 E. 75th St (212) 988-0769
Most dog’s will do whatever it takes to get to treats, and the Busy Buddy Treat Dispensing Tug-a-Jug rewards your dog for determining how to pull treats from the jug by tugging on a braided rope. Any small bite size treats such as Busy Buddy Buddy-Berries dog treats can be placed inside the clear jug which is permeated with holes on the bottom so that your dog’s smell sense is activated. The Tug-a-Jug has a rubber banded neck for chewing and can be also be used to play Fetch, Hide-and-Seek, Tug of War and as a training tool for commands such as “Bring It” and “Leave It”.
The Quado Interactive Dog Treat from N-Bone is shaped like a jack and comes in three sizes in either mint or pumpkin flavor. The Quado’s four legs allows it to stand upright and can be used while playing “Fetch”, although my dog finds both flavors delicious and doesn’t like to give her Quado up. Fortunately, the treat is all natural, sugar and salt free, edible and digestible and helps remove plaque and tartar along with freshening breath. While your dog is certain to chew a Quado quietly as long as it lasts, it isn’t meant to be consumed in one sitting so be sure to monitor your dog while chewing and leave plenty to savor over a period of time.
Available online at Great Companions http://www.greatcompanions.com and at L’Amour Pet Food and Supplies 125A 7th Ave (212) 675-3111
With a small collection of carefully chosen, safe, stimulating toys my dog is entertained and active and a lot less likely to chew on shoes or furniture, and I have more ways to share fun times with her. My dog is also a bit fickle and if yours is too, you may find that a neglected toy becomes a favorite a few months later when brought out of storage.