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Creating Calm: Tactical Dog Toy Use

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How to Use Dog ToysI like peace and quiet in the mornings. A cup of coffee and a laptop for about 20-30 minutes, hold the conversation. This is not my peak time for puppy play and engagement but puppies, being puppies, are ready to do something! Or maybe you need to keep your dog occupied while you get the myriad of other tasks accomplished in a hectic morning time. Whatever the reason, here is what I do to create calm in the mornings.

You need to do:

  • Purchase really good chewies and/or kongs.
  • Prep them in the PM.
  • Present to the pups with a flourish.
  • Play then put away.

Purchase really good chew toys

Purchase a dog toy that cannot be consumed in 20 minutes. Consider: Kongs, Bully Sticks, Sterilized Bones or Himalayan Dog Chews.

I love other food dispensing toys but they can be noisy, often don’t last long enough and encourage a lot of movement at a time when having the dog quietly at my feet is my goal.

If your dog is guardy over “used to be alive” chews skip them. Stick to man-made items like Kongs stuffed with low-value treats like biscuts or small amounts of something not worth fighting over.

Not sure how your dog will react? Leave a leash on your dog so you can move him away without grabbing at the item should he take things too seriously.

Note: Any hard chew (like sterilized bones or himalayan dog chews) can cause dental issues in some dogs. I have not experienced that with the dogs in my care but, if you are concerned, stick to softer items like Kongs or bully sticks.

Prep in the PM

Some chew toys need no real prep time. Dogs just love them. If you want to add interest easily you can rub an item between your palms or blow on it. Your smell is enthralling for your dog. (If you do this with a bull stick, wash your hands afterward.)

Stuffing a kong can make things last longer. What you use and how much you insert depends on your dog.

Present with a flourish

What a dog thinks of something is influenced by what you think. If you are excited and make it a big deal, your dog will pick up on your excitement. So, when I present this AM items to a new puppy I ohhh and ahhh over it. More often than not the pup runs over to see what it up. When I give it to them, I give it as if I am giving them the most wonderful thing in the world!

Play then put away

Set a timer for 15-20 minutes then put the toy away. Your goal is to stop your dog before he stops himself. Why? Because that way we train his brain to want and to keep wanting the toy.

Note: If he quits early, this is not a crisis, it is simply not ideal. Try to stop him sooner next time.

If you have trouble taking any item away from your dog, talk to me about it or seek other experienced professionals. If you want to help ensure you don’t have problems, train your dog to give items up easily with this game.

By making this a morning routine, you can soon have a dog who settles and chews contentedly any time you need that break. This makes mornings easier for everyone.

Enjoy!

Author: Sarah Wilson

Sarah Wilson, Dog Expert, offers experienced-based dog info with humor. Author of 8 books, seen on PBS, Sarah knows all about dogs. {Pip} is her rescue dog.

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