If you are anything like most of the other dog owners out there and me, you will have bought toy after toy for your beloved pooch, only to have the toys rejected for some old thing that’s falling apart. It’s more than just a frustration – broken toys represent real choking hazards for your dog.
If you want to know why they do that, and how to stop it, then read below. This could, in all honesty, save your dog from choking to death one day. Recent studies have shed some light on the way that dogs think about their toys. The study took place in the UK and included 16 Labrador Retrievers (apparently selected for their natural playfulness) those dogs almost entirely favored certain toys over all others.
In trying to pull apart a reason for this pattern, the researchers came up with the following reasoning.
“Dogs perceive toys in the same way that wolves perceive prey; they prefer toys that either taste like food or can be torn apart” Quote taken from the article “Habituation and dishabituation during object play in kennel-housed dogs.”
In other words, dogs want toys that remind them/fool them into thinking that they are hunters, and the toys are the prey. Soft toys, or things that make noise, that the dog can feel being destroyed in their teeth are always going to win when it comes to the favorite toy contest.
But toys that feel like they are destroyed between the teeth of your dog have a nasty habit of breaking… quickly. Often the more robust toys are left gathering dust as your pet pooch is gleefully destroying the softer toys.
How can you combat this Dog toy favoritism?
There are things that you can do to combat this. Two things actually. There are what I like to call the ‘pretend its alive’ technique, and the ‘hide it, so the dog forgets about it’ technique.
The ‘Pretend its Alive’ Dog Toy Technique
This is such a simple thing to do, many of you probably do it automatically. But if you have a robust toy that is being ignored, then you can play with it with your dog. Hold one end of it and let the dog fight for it. If you can get your dog to bite on to one end of the toy, then you can try and wrestle it from the dog. If you think back to the whole ‘Your dog thinks that its prey’ concept, then pulling one end of it and fighting against your dog a bit will trick your dog into thinking the prey is alive (yes, even if its just a rope toy).
‘Hide It, so The Dog Forgets About It’
This technique is, at its core, the idea of not giving your dog all its toys at once. You should keep most of the toys in a box or drawer somewhere that your dog cannot access. Switching out favorite toys in place of more robust ones (perhaps even utilizing the previous technique to generate interest) will keep your dog interested in different toys. Switching out toys regularly will keep your dog interested and save it from getting bored with the same old toys.
There is a danger with the naturally favored toys of your dog, and that’s the fact that broken toys can present a danger to your pet. Choking hazards are potentially fatal so its important to keep on top of your dog’s toys. Its no exaggeration to say that these simple little steps could potentially save your dog’s life.
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