Chew Toys to Avoid with your new Puppy (and other household hazards)
So you've just adopted your new puppy, and one of the first compulsion you will face is the desire to buy your new fur-baby a toy... and not just one, but a whole collection of toys!
Toys for dogs are an important part of their development and often help to provide them with a sense of security, especially when passing those "alone times" when mom and dad are at work or occupied elsewhere. A favorite toy will make a BIG difference to your pup when having to deal with the boredom of being alone. They will also provide an effective substitute in place of your favorite pair of shoes!
In preparation for writing this post, I was reminded of one of the first dogs in my life. He was a stray that had wandered into our suburban neighborhood and after hanging around for a few days, we convinced my parents to let us take him in. We affectionately named him Mooch. Though I was only eight years old, at best, I remember him as being noticeably undernourished, and quick to scarf down the food as soon as we put it down on the floor in front of him.
He was a friendly guy who kept up well with me, my brother, and my sister. Not being experienced dog owners, there weren't any dog-friendly toys around for Mooch to play with - - only us kids. I remember it as a very sad day when we noticed Mooch was not himself and was more inclined to lay on the cool garage floor, rather than chase us around the yard (you see, we almost always had the garage door up when we were playing outside... it's just what you did in our neighborhood.) The eventual trip to the vet revealed that a day or two earlier Mooch had apparently gotten his snout into a bin inside the garage that held clean, cut-up, old t-shirts that we used for anything from waxing the family car to wiping up spills. To Mooch, it was a toy bin and we had no idea he was getting into it.
The x-rays revealed that he had chewed and swallowed so many of those little rags that they had severely blocked his intestines, and the vet gave him a very slim chance of surviving the a surgical procedure that my family would not have been able to afford anyway. We said goodbye to Mooch that day, and the memory has stayed with me for the last 40 (or so) years.
The point? There are two I would like to make:
First, dogs (especially the youngest ones) are attracted to the things that can be the most dangerous to them. I'm talking about common things in and around your home that you would have never, until now, considered a threat. You need to give time and attention to puppy-proof (read: doggy-proof) your home for non-digestible things they can chew-up and swallow. Look for and remove potential hazards like these:
String, twine, wire, rope, para-cord (you get the drift.)
Lamp cords, extension cords, charging cables (especially the plugged-in kind!)
Dirty laundry (gross... but they generally favor dirty underwear!)
Rags (clean and dirty)
Foil and/or plastic wrap (from those hamburgers AND
that shot you missed on the trash can!)
Christmas tree ornaments, tinsel, and other decorations
Second, not all toys you find in the local pet isle are safe for your puppy/dog. Wait! What?! You can quote me on this (and I hope you do.) You should never assume that a toy, even the ones purchased from reputable stores, are going to be safe for YOUR dog (the emphasis is important here.)
I am hesitant to provide you with a list of "safe" toys, like the list of "potential unsafe" you saw above, because as a current owner of multiple dogs, I can tell you that each dog behaves differently with their toys. Example: Our rough and tumble male Goldendoodle protects and coddles the toys in the house. However, our highly social, attentive, and sweet little female we have code-named "The Destroyer." There have been only a few toy brands to withstand her hyper-aggressive chewing for more than an hour or two (I am not exaggerating.)
What is important here is that you MUST pay attention to your dog's play habits with toys.
Plush toys with stuffing inside will likely not be an issue for the dog that leaves the stuffing IN the toy. Conversely, the dog who routinely disembowels those unfortunate fluffy fellows is likely to be at greater risk of choking or swallowing things that are not best when swallowed. Similarly, rubber toys that fragment when chewed can pose a choking or digestive threat to your dog. Unfortunately, there is a small expense on this learning curve... you often (at first) wont know how a toy is going to hold up until it is "put into play."
There are varying opinions on rope toys, so I'll go ahead and give you mine. Should you choose to introduce a rope toy, inspect it DAILY at the very least. Knotted ends should be intact, and fraying strands should be trimmed away before they can be torn loose and swallowed, because rest assured, they will be if you don't. Sooner or later you will have to be the bad-guy who has to pitch a worn out rope toy that is just too spent to survive another battle. Just be sure to do it when Max isn't looking... to avoid any hard feelings.
You would be wise to spend time with your pup whenever a new toy is introduced. Depending on your dog's temperament, they may behave differently with a toy when you are present than when you are absent (especially if you have a habit of scolding them for destroying that new $10 little buddy.) So give them some "supervised" alone time with it, checking on them at frequent intervals.
You will eventually zero-in on the type of toys (make and manufacturer) that are best suited to your pup. If you choose well, they will last for a good long time, and you will see your "toy-spend" begin to drop.
The end result will be a happier, and safer pup. -TPP