Toys can bring our dogs a great deal of joy. If your pup is anything like Winston, his eyes get huge and his excitement causes his whole body to wiggle. So, if a toy brings our dog that much joy, can it be bad?
Toys made to look like items we don’t want our dogs to play with create confusion. We don’t want our dog to chew on our shoes but then we get them that shoe shaped stuffie. Yes, we all believe our dogs are exceptional but I can assure you, Winston will not discern that treat dispensing toy that looks like a Croc from my actual Crocs. He will only more aggressively try to get my much loved shoe to dispense some snackies.
Tonight, as I was toy shopping, I found toys shaped like shoes, slippers, remote controls, cell phones, and game controllers. If you’re like me, you would prefer your dog not chew on any of those things.
We need to set them up to be successful by providing toys that are unique and easily recognizable as items meant for play. I used to playfully smack Winston's hinny with my empty drink bottle on my way to the recycle bin. What I was inadvertently teaching him was that my bottles are a toy. While Winston is a smart dog, he isn't smart enough to know which bottle is his and which is mine. I also didn't want him to ever think he could jump on people to grab their bottles. Yes, we can always work to train our dogs not to jump and to not take things not handed to them, but we can simplify our training and set our dogs up for success by not starting a problem in the first place.