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Dog Toys – A Necessary Element to a Happy Healthy Dog

Dogs easily become bored when they are stuck inside by cold weather and without the proper dog toys and chew toy stimulation, they can quickly become destructive. With winter quickly approaching, you may already be dreading those long, cold days stuck in the house with your precious pets. The good news is that there are many tools available to keep your dog entertained, happy and most of all keep them from destroying your home and possessions.

First, you need to understand why a dog’s behavior can become so destructive. The problem actually lays with us humans. Initially dogs were born and survived in the wild where they were naturally active and kept busy hunting for food and protecting themselves. Unfortunately, when we domesticated them, their lifestyles gradually became sedentary as they were brought into our homes and fed out of bowls instead of hunting for their food.

To compensate for their lack of natural activities, it is necessary to provide plenty of dog toys and chew toys to keep them entertained and properly stimulated. There are multiple dog toy choices available now and some of the newer puzzle toys are just the stimulus your dog needs to keep busy and out of trouble.

Unfortunately if you do not supply your dog with toys to both fill their day with constructive activities and satisfy their need to chew, they will likely find your favorite pair of shoes and create their own chew toy! This leads to the next question of how do you supply your dog with appropriate dog toys to suit their needs.

First, make sure you have a good assortment of toys for them to enjoy. They will get bored with the same one or two toys every day so only give them one or two each day and rotate the toys out to keep them interested. Make sure you choose quality toys for your dog to both prevent unnecessary choking hazards and to ensure that they are long lasting.

Many people give their dogs old socks or other household items to play with. This is a common mistake, which only confuses your dog and causes you grief later. For example, if you give them an old sock or maybe an old t-shirt to chew on, they will naturally think that every sock they find in your house is fair game to play with. You should also make sure your dog has a specific spot to keep their dog toys. Use a basket or plastic tub that they have easy access to and this will help your dog to understand which toys belong to them.

With so many dog toys to choose from, what are some of the more stimulating and boredom buster toys available?

* Balls – I have yet to see a dog who does not love their ball and it is a great way for you to interact and play with your dog as well. Make sure you have separate inside and outside balls so that they do not drag a dirty ball into the house.
* Chew Toy – Dog’s need to chew instinctively so make sure you provide them with good quality chew toys that do not have small parts that could come off or toys that are full of stuffing and noisemakers. The new stuffing free toys are an excellent choice for chewing and having a game of tug-o-war. In addition, I recommend a toy that mentally challenges your dog. There are tons of new dog toy puzzles available where your dog gets one toy that is full of smaller toys and has to figure out how to get them out. Another favorite are the rubber toys that hold either food or treats inside and your dog has to work to get the food out. All of these offer excellent stimulation and a break for you.
* Chew Bones – Offer both an activity and a way for you and your dog to unwind. With multiple variations of pressed bones, rawhide bones, rubber bones, dental bones and many others, you are sure to find one that is your dog’s favorite. Be sure to pick a bone that fits your dog’s size and chewing abilities to avoid choking incidents. If your dog does not finish the bone during their chewing session, pick it up and put it away for another day.
* Comfort Toy – Comfort toys develop when a dog is young and dealing with separation anxiety from their mother to a new home but many dogs do not outgrow their comfort toys. However, this type of toy still offers benefits to an adult dog. If you have to travel to unfamiliar places, leave them with a sitter, or vet for a few days, they offer your dog a feeling of comfort and have a reassuring effect. Many dogs also like to use their comfort toy for a game of tug-o-war or to simulate shaking their prey when in the wild.

By providing multiple dog toys for your furry friend, you will most likely avoid developing bad habits and keep them from engaging in destructive behavior. Most importantly, your dog will be a happy, healthy dog no matter how cold it gets.

Classic, Vintage and Retro Toys: Why Are They Still Popular?

When I think of classic, vintage and retro toys I think of my brother’s soldier-making kit. The kit included a melting pot for lead, tools for handling the pot, and molds for an army of toy soldiers. Hour after hour, he poured lead into the molds and burnished the lead soldiers. At the time, we did not know about the dangers of lead and thought this was normal.

How times have changed! Some unsafe classic, vintage and retro toys have been pulled from the market, yet hundreds remain and they are selling. Books, specialized magazines, and dozens, if not hundreds, of Internet websites cater to this pursuit. You may be a collector yourself or know people who collect historic toys.

According to an article on the Brainz website, the most popular toys of all time are Tickle Me Elmo, Beanie Babies, the Super Soaker, and Etch a Sketch. Other historic toys were just as popular. Why do they last?

Design is one reason. These toys were made to stimulate the imagination and hours of play. Several years ago my husband and I inherited a pinball game from the late 1930s or early 1940s. The wooden game board is in good condition and so is the spring that shoots balls onto the game. Chess, checkers and Chinese checkers have become collectables and some people are displaying the boards like art.

The fun factor is another reason. Ask a friend to name their favorite childhood toys and you hear stories about balsam wood gliders, Slinky, Lincoln logs, sock monkeys and more. Manufacturers are reproducing these designs and adding a new twist. For example, I made Sock Monkeys for my daughters. You can buy the monkeys today, as well as Sock Monkey key rings and bedspreads.

Durability is yet another reason. Many classic, vintage and retro toys were made from wood and rugged metal parts that withstood constant use. Tonka trucks, which were made in Minnesota, were so sturdy they could be passed from one child to the next or one generation to the next. These trucks are very collectable today.

Adaptability is the final reason. Historic games are today’s party warm-ups, something to relax a group before dinner or a potluck supper. Shoppers scour garage sales, Salvation Army stores, and antique stores for the games they played in childhood. “Games have been a constant human preoccupation,” according to “Antique and Vintage Games,” an article published in “Collectors Weekly.”

Before you buy classic, vintage or retro toys check the condition. Does the toy have rough edges or missing parts? Are all of the game pieces there? Is the toy in its original box? Contact relatives, too, because they may still have these toys in their basement or attic.

Some manufacturers are re-making toys of the past. Associated Press business writer Michael Liedtke writes about one manufacturer in his article, “Vintage Toy Maker Wham-O Trying to Regain its Punch,” published in “The Berkeley Daily Planet.” Though Wham-O had come upon hard financial times, Liedtke explains, “the company that gave the world the Frisbee, the Hula Hoop and the Hockey Sack is trying to regain its footing as a toy trendsetter.” The first step towards this goal is remaking the company’s Slip’N Slide toy.

Whether they are classic, vintage, or retro, toys are fun. Historic toys remind you of childhood, a simpler time, and family togetherness. You may wish to buy a historic toy if you come across it. If you have historic toys you no longer need, donate them to a history museum or children’s museum. These well-designed, fun, durable, adaptable toys are worth saving.

Copyright 2011 by Harriet Hodgson