Kyle Baker, Senior Pet Food Nutritionist
It likely comes as no surprise: your pup needs to play. But as obvious as that sounds, its importance may be even greater than we think. In fact, according to one Bristol University study, play is the key to your dog’s overall well-being.
Among the many benefits, regular play can help a dog’s physical conditioning, combat canine obesity, provide mental stimulation, relieve boredom, and strengthen their bond with you, their pet parent. Additionally, it can help prevent behavioral issues like anxiety, aggression, whining, jumping up, or not coming when called. While it’s best for your dog’s development to play with you, your family, or other dogs, unfortunately there isn’t always someone available for a little roughhousing.
And that’s why there are toys! Fun, interactive, and always ready for play, toys are a great way for your dog to enjoy many of the above benefits anytime they want.
With the holidays upon us, DOGPerfect has created a list of the season’s best toys and how they can boost a dog’s health—so you can make sure you’ve got the perfect gift for the canine companions on your list.
Let’s Play Fetch
Nearly half of all dog owners say that “fetch” is their dog’s favorite game. Fetch allows your dog to burn a lot of energy, which aids conditioning and makes them less likely to misbehave or act out. Additionally, playing fetch can also strengthen the respect a dog has for its pet parent.
When it’s time to play fetch, a classic tennis ball might get the job done – but why throw it when you can blast it? With the Nerf Tennis Ball Blaster, you can launch a ball up to 50 feet in the air for maximum fun. Plus, once retrieved, you can reload balls hands-free to avoid the slime and slobber.
Time for Tug-o-War
Another all-time favorite, “tug-o-war” offers both a physical and mental challenge for your pup. As you’ve probably found, many dogs are willing to sink their teeth into whatever’s available for a little tugging match. Your slippers notwithstanding, we’ve got just the thing.
Designed by students at Ringling College of Art and Design in Sarasota as part of a scholarship competition, SmartPetLove’s Tender-Tuffs Platypus is made with Tear Block Technology that can withstand even the most vigorous games of tug-o-war. With a Tender-Tuffs toy, your dog will enjoy hours of fun and repeated use—and those slippers will get a welcome break.
Just Chew It
Labrador Retriever? Bichon Frise? Forget the slippers – your dog might be a toy wrecker, too.
If your dog likes to play tough, KONG Company rubber toys are highly durable and designed with safety in mind. KONG has created a variety of options to accommodate light, average, or even the most powerful chewers. Plus, with the option to stuff with snacks like peanut butter, KONG toys are a great way to deliver treats that can keep your dog busy.
Speaking of keeping your good boy or girl busy, interactive toys are designed to ensure hours of play while pet parents are away. For example, ZippyPaws Burrow Hedgehog Den is a hide-and-seek toy that challenges your pup with finding three squeaky hedgehogs hidden in their den. Recommended by animal behaviorists, these types of puzzle toys are a great supplement when you can’t be there for your dog.
Finally, when you can, try to buy toys that are made in the USA. Many of the top-rated dog toys are American made by companies that voluntarily follow the same FDA guidelines used for making children’s toys, helping them achieve top marks for safety. Additionally, American-made dog toys tend to be among the most durable.
Made in Montana, West Paw’s Jive Ball makes fetch more fun. Sized to fit in a standard ball thrower, and safer and tougher than a tennis ball, Jive Ball’s odd shape and bright shades bring the excitement with easy-to-spot colors and unpredictable bounces—even in the snow.
Another option, Cycle Dog Potted Ivy, is an unstuffed, super tough plush toy ideal for dogs who like to shake their play things. Plus, it’s made in Oregon from eco-friendly recycled materials.
Regular play is fun and beneficial for pups and pet parents alike. It can challenge your dog both physically and mentally, help them blow off some steam, and provide an opportunity for you to both to bond. This holiday season, stop by your local independent pet retailer to find the terrific toys that will bring joy and delight for your favorite furry friend.
About the Author:
Kyle Baker, Senior Pet Food Nutritionist at DOGPerfect, has a passion for educating pet parents on the power of nutrition and how it can improve their pet’s lives with proper food, supplements and treats. DOGPerfect is a locally owned and operated pet supply store with locations in The Landings, University Park, and Lakewood Ranch. Visit www.dogperfect.com for more information and to sign-up for a free one-on-one nutrition consult with Kyle.
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