Dogs interact with the world through their mouths. They begin chewing on things the moment they become old enough to walk. However, their chewing habits start getting out of control when they begin teething. Teething is an uncomfortable and alien experience that every puppy goes through. It’s a hard time for most pups, the constant discomfort in their mouths makes them want to chew even more than usual. Today, we are going to be looking at the best toys for puppies that will make teething more bearable for them.
When pups begin to grow their teeth, their gums become inflamed and painful as well. Chewing helps them cope with this pain, this drives them to start gnawing on whatever they get their jaws on. A teething puppy will chew on your furniture, your carpets, your electronics, and anything else that comes in their way. It goes without saying that this habit can quickly become destructive. A habit that can become permanent if you do not try and control it at the right time.
This article on the British Dental Journal by M P Ashely discusses the various problems associated with teething. It says that dogs and a variety of other mammals become irritable during their teething phase.
Puppy dog toys are designed with teething phases kept in mind, meaning that they provide pups with something to focus their chewing obsession on. Investing in a few good toys will help make your pup more manageable and will also prevent bad habits from developing. Having the right toys on hand really makes a difference, but picking one is not as easy as you might think. There are literally thousands of toys to choose from, many of which are unsafe or impractical. Let’s delve into different toy types and figure out what sort of toy you should buy.
Understanding The Teething Phase
Puppies are born with a set of milk teeth that they begin to lose after a few months. The exact age and duration of the puppy teething process vary from breed to breed, but you can expect similar behaviors when this process begins. Puppies develop an intense need to chew throughout this period. Not only because of pain management, but also because chewing helps their teeth and gums develop better during this period.
You cannot stop your dog from chewing during this time. So, you should focus on providing them with items to chew on that they will find irresistible. Items that will attract them and keep their chewing urges focused on them so that you do not have to worry about your belongings being ruined.
Characteristics of The Best Toys For Puppies
There are three main things that you need to look for in a chewing toy to make it effective:
- Its texture should alleviate pain and discomfort
- It should attract the puppy so that it chooses it over other items
- It should be strong so that it does not break and become a safety hazard
With these three factors in mind, let’s take a more detailed look at effective puppy toys.
A teething toy should provide the perfect balance between softness and hardness. Puppies begin exerting more force once they start teething, making their bites more powerful. This, coupled with their new teeth allows them to rip and break softer toys. A toy that breaks easily can be swallowed, making it a choking or stomach hazard. Toys that break will also cost you more since you will have to replace them more often, which is why durability is important.
However, it should not be tough or hard either. Puppies do not have the strength needed to bite into harder materials. This could result in them damaging their jaws while playing with a harder toy, or simply lose interest in the toy. The toy should have enough give to keep the dog entertained and happy.
Avoid Brittle Toys
We cannot stress enough on this point. Dogs and puppies often die because of swallowing small toy parts that can choke them or damage their digestive system. Any toy that you choose should not have small parts (bells, beads etc.) on it and it should not be brittle at all.
Keep Your Pup’s Preference in Mind
Dogs have their likes and dislikes when it comes to toys. You might find that a popular dog toy does not appeal to your pup, or your pup might quickly get bored of a toy. You should take time to figure out your dog’s likes and dislikes so that you can find them toys that they like. Also, you should buy at least a couple of toys at one time. This ensures that your dog has a variety of toys to choose from, keeping things from getting boring.
A great way to keep a toy from becoming boring is to practice rotation. Change your dog’s toy after every few days, this will keep their excitement level high and allow you to use the same toys for longer.
The “perfect” size of a dog toy is a relative thing. It depends on the size of your dog; some breeds are larger as pups while others are smaller. A small toy could be a choking hazard while a larger one could be too difficult to play with. Fortunately, many dog toys come in various sizes, all you need to do is determine the size of a toy before buying it.
Some dog toys rely on more than visual appeal, they are actually imbued with tastes to make them even more attractive. A chew toy that tastes good can be great for puppies that are picky toy choosers. Some toys are simply imbued with taste, while some are actually edible or come with compartments to hide treats in. An edible or tasty chew toy can really entertain your pup. Many owners keep this toy to spice up playing sessions, or even to reward their dog during training.
Tips on Keeping Your Toys Interesting
Puppies are hyperactive things that quickly become bored. A toy that becomes familiar will no longer have the same appeal, and as a result, your pup will start looking for something else to chew on. Luckily, there are ways of keeping toys interesting so that your pup does not discard its toys too quickly.
Picking a dog toy that your pup genuinely likes can solve half of this problem. However, you will still need to keep over-familiarity at bay. Doing this can be easy if you have multiple toys on hand. Simply rotate the toys; provide your pup with only one toy at a time and keep the rest hidden. Then after a few days, swap out the toy for another, this will make the toys feel new for longer.
You can also tweak how the toy feels by cooling it down. Placing a toy in the freezer for a while can make it cold; a different sensation that will make the toy interesting again. Also, the cold temperature will help cull inflammation, which is an added bonus.
If your pup requires more mental stimulation then you can consider buying an interactive toy. A toy that can be filled with treats will definitely keep your dog invested in it for longer. They can easily spend hours trying to take all the treats out, providing mental and physical stimulation in one go.
What to Avoid in Puppy Toys
Remember, when picking a toy you should always prioritize safety over everything else. A toy can quickly become a health hazard if you do not pick it carefully.
Any toy that has smaller parts, sharp edges or fragile materials should be avoided. Dogs have incredibly sensitive digestive systems that can easily be upset by foreign objects. Picking the wrong toy could easily lead to an expensive trip to the vet, or worse, put your dog’s life in danger.
Fibrous materials that fray/tear easily should be avoided, these are easy to swallow and build up in your dog’s stomach. You should also avoid giving cooked bones to your dog. After being cooked, bones become brittle and break into sharp pieces that can cause internal injury.
Softer chew toys such as plushies should be avoided. Plushies are made for pups that are still in their milk teeth phase. A stronger bite can easily rip them open and result in your dog swallowing its stuffing.
Lastly, you should always monitor your dog when they are playing with a toy. Make sure that the toy does not harm them and frequently check for signs of wear and tear. A toy should be replaced as soon as possible the moment it begins to show signs of breaking.
Hopefully, you learned more about chew toys for puppies after reading this article. Equipped with this information, you should have an easier time choosing the right (and safe) toy. A toy that your pup will grow to love and will find relief in.