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The Good, the Bad and the Tuggy!
Dogs Toys in General
Member Name: skittle
Dogs Toys in General
Date: 20/06/04, updated on 20/06/04 (3830 review reads)
Advantages: Play is essential
Disadvantages: Expensive, sometimes easily destroyed
These come in many disguises, from the original coloured rope with a knot in either end to fancier varieties with tennis balls attached or double rope rings joined together amongst many, many others. However, all of these toys have one thing in common ? being made of rope they are really only suitable for indoor playing, as taking them outside on a wet day means that the tugger will come back indoors absolutely filthy dirty, and sopping wet. Having said that, you?re likely to get a similar result with one of these toys even if you only play indoors if your dog is at all dribbly. Skittle, I have to admit, is a bit of a drooler at times. Having a sopping wet, drool covered tugger deposited in your lap is pretty unpleasant at the best of times. Even worse, as I mentioned above, both of my dogs love to chew their toys, and chewing a tugger means that they inevitably swallow small pieces of the frayed rope, depositing the rest in chewed strands in a surprisingly large radius around their furry little bodies. In a really sustained attack it?s possible for either of my dogs to completely destroy a rope tugger in under an hour? Then, of course, if we use one of these toys to play tug of war (exactly what it was designed for) Skitt
le pulls so hard that she usually finishes up with a mouthful of strands of rope, that then get swallowed? On the plus side, rope tuggers are very cheap toys, readily available and there are loads of variants ? however, I won?t buy these for my dogs any longer, primarily because I don?t like the thought of them swallowing chunks of rope (although I?m sure it wouldn?t do them too much harm) but mainly because they are always destroyed so quickly, and are so unpleasant when even slightly dirty or damp that I consider them to be a complete waste of money. If I want to buy something for my dogs to destroy, I go to a jumble sale and buy them a second hand teddy for a couple of pence, instead!
Again, these are available in a wide variety of different shapes and sizes, and are readily available in specialist pet shops and supermarkets across the country. They?re usually made from a thin, light rubber, and normally reasonably cheap to buy. However, again I believe that squeaky toys are poor value, despite their inexpensive price, as they are so easily destroyed. One determined bite from either of my two can easily put paid to the squeak element of these toys, and it doesn?t take a great deal of effort from either of them to completely chew one of these to pieces, and that?s when I worry the most about this type of dog toy. The squeaking element is usually quite small, and would be very easy for a reasonably sized dog to swallow, along with the soft rubber of the toy itself, which my dogs find so irresistibly chewable? And that?s not all ? if my dogs don?t manage to kill the squeak on one of these toys immediately, I have to admit that the constant squeaking drives me absolutely insane. Not only that, but it gets the dogs utterly over excited, and often causes fights as they both want to play with the squeaky toy at the same time. So, although these toys are
great if you have one very calm dog who?s not particularly interested in chewing, personally, I don?t buy these any more either!
I?ve already written a very long, scathing review expressing my deep dissatisfaction with Nylabone, but I?ll let you know exactly why. To cut a long story short I believe these toys to be dangerous for dogs. After paying about £10 (an extortionate price, I believe) for a Nylabone - as it is recommended for aggressive chewers, a tiny piece of the toy broke off and was swallowed by Mokee, resulting in her needing veterinary attention for an infected throat, where the Nylabone shard had scratched her. Needless to say, the Nylabone went straight in the bin? Oh, and the shard that Mokee swallowed wasn?t a malfunction, Nylabone toys are DESIGNED to do that. You have been warned!
Canac Treat Ball:
I?ve written a review about this one, too, but I have to admit that if I was to write that review now it would have ended quite differently. The Canac treat ball is a large, hard plastic ball with holes in it that can be filled with treats for your dog. The dog then needs to push the ball around to release the treats, thus keeping your dog occupied whilst providing a treat to encourage it to carry on playing. When the Treat Ball first came to stay with us, both of my dogs absolutely adored it, it was their favourite toy for some time. However, it has since been surpassed in their affections by another (which I?ll tell you about in a moment) and has lain, forgotten, in the corner of their room (yes, my dogs have a room of their own) for a very, very long time. There are a number of reasons why, mainly because the treat ball is so large and hard that it?s impossible for my dogs to pick up ? thus preventing Skittle from playing fetch, her fav
ourite game. It is also completely non-chewable, so whilst this is great in one way, because it makes it a very long-lasting toy, it also means that it doesn?t fulfil another of the needs of my dogs, they so love to get their teethe into their toys! So whilst I would recommend a treat ball, I do think that you need to keep changing the treats that you fill it with, as my dogs have gotten very bored with chocolate drops, and the treats are really the only item in this toy which held their interest.
Winalot Shapes Ball:
This toy works on the same principle as the Canac Treat Ball, and is the toy that has replaced the treat ball in my dogs? affections. The toy is specially designed by Winalot to be filled with Winalot Shapes biscuits, however, unlike the treat ball the shapes ball is made of chewable rubber, and though reasonably large, it is just small enough for my Collie to be able to play fetch with. Even better, because the rubber is reasonably flexible, my collie cross, who?s about the same height and size as a beagle, is able to carry the shape ball around too, as the ball squishes when she grabs it. This is far and away the favourite toy of both of my dogs, as it not only fulfils the essential requirements of chewiness and fetchability, but it also dispenses treats. The dogs are also able to play with this together, as Skittle loves to play fetch with the toy, whilst Mokee runs around behind her eating all of the treats that fall out. My dogs have played with this toy (with or without biscuits) for several years, and it is only just starting to show wear and tear, with tiny splits appearing here and there in the rubber. However, there are a couple of downsides with this toy. Firstly, my dogs sometimes get their teeth stuck in the holes, but a simple head shake usually dislodges it for them. More annoyingly, however, these toys were made specia
lly as a promotional item for Winalot Shapes ? it was necessary to send away tokens to receive the toy free ? which was great at the time, but now means that this 'toy without equal' is not available in the shops. However, I would seriously recommend that you keep your eye on Winalot Shapes in your local supermarket in the hope that they offer this toy again, it is well, well worth saving up the tokens for!
Though not specifically designed for dogs, tennis balls are cheap, lightweight and great fun for playing fetch. Dogs particularly like the way that tennis balls bounce, and the tactile feel of the furry yellow covering as they chew. However, on the down side, the fluffy covering is extremely easily ripped off, tennis balls really don?t last long with my dogs as they get chewed to pieces very quickly. They also have the same problem as the rope tugger, they get dirty, smelly and wet very easily. Still, as you can pick a tube of three tennis balls up for around £1, it isn?t a big hardship to just throw them away when they get too dirty or destroyed. Tennis ball-like toys are also available from pet shops in unusual shapes, such as cubes and sausage shapes. However, as these are just as easy to destroy as ordinary tennis balls, at a much higher price, I wouldn?t recommend them.
Glow in the Dark Ball (available at Tesco):
I?m sure that you must be able to buy glow in the dark dog toys at different outlets, I?m aware of another one that?s available in pet shops and made by Kong, but I?ve only actually seen this particular product at my local Tesco store. Unfortunately, I don?t remember the name of the manufacturer, however, this ball is well worth hunting for, as it is a definite bonus in the winter months. It?s reasonably large for a dog-ball, and a slightly odd pale green colour, as glow in the
dark items usually are. It?s made of a very hard plastic type substance, and is big enough for large dogs to play with without the fear of the ball being swallowed. It is so large that Mokee can only just pick it up, and sometimes has trouble dropping it again. This ball doesn?t bounce very well, but rolls nicely so is perfect for playing fetch. It is also very robust, so chewing normally doesn?t have much effect on it. However, the ball really comes into its own after dark, as its glow in the dark properties really make it excellent for playing fetch even on those pitch black, winter evenings when an outdoor game of fetch would?ve been impossible otherwise (and it?s really fun to watch the glow in the dark ball floating back to me, as my black dog carries it through the dark!) I was concerned when I bought this ball that it would stop glowing after a while, as glow in the dark items so often do, but it still glows just as brightly now as it did a year ago when it was new. I?ve only got one complaint about this ball, as Skittle has a habit of taking her toys into the garden and leaving them there. When she did this with the glow in the dark ball, bringing it in again a few weeks later, the plastic had degraded and perished slightly where it had been in direct sunlight, making it softer, and very easy for Mokee to get her teeth into. However, even with a hole chewed into it, the ball is still perfectly usable, and still glows just as much. This toys definitely comes highly recommended so long as your dog is large enough to actually pick it up, even though it?s relatively expensive at around £5.99, just make sure to keep it out of direct sunlight!
Pedigree Rubber Toys:
Pedigree (the makers of Pedigree Chum) make a good range of robust, rubber toys for dogs which are all durable, easy to carry and specially designed to meet the needs of your dog. I can?t recommend pe
digree toys highly enough, even though they come at a premium price. Skittle has had several of her Pedigree toys since she was a puppy, and they?re still in great shape, though they are now showing some signs of age, including fading (where they?ve been left in the garden for weeks at a time) they also have some small chunks missing from previous chewing sessions, but are actually still in remarkably good condition seven years on. Pedigree dog toys are made in various colours of really robust rubber, perfect for chewing, and excellent for playing fetch as toys such as the pedigree frame ball bounce really well, which my dogs adore! Other pedigree toys are made to fulfil other needs. The wavy rubber ring is perfect for throwing like a frisbee, and both of my dogs love to chomp on the dumbbell shaped toy, and the toy with four, ridged prongs. Whilst the bigger toys, like the frame ball, are best suited for larger dogs, other toys in the range are perfect for even the smallest of dogs, and they?re almost impossible to destroy. I?ve never, ever had to throw one of these toys away, and believe me my dogs have committed their best efforts over the years to chewing their pedigree toys to destruction. These toys come highly recommended from Skittle, Mokee and me. They might seem expensive to begin with, but they?re worth their weight in gold, and they?ll probably last longer than your dog?
I have to admit that I?m not a fan of frisbees. Ordinary plastic ones designed for human play are very easily destroyed by canine munching. Those designed for dogs are usually far too light, or made from such an agreeably chewy substance that they?re far too easily destroyed. I?ve usually found that my dogs much prefer playing fetch with a more solid toy, too, as frisbees are really quite large and difficult for a dog to carry as they tend to flap about when they run and whack them on the le
gs too. So for me and my dogs frisbees are a no-no.
Kong toys are now available in many different variants, including glow in the dark and Kong on a rope, however, the original is still the best in my opinion. Having said that, when Kong was originally introduced to our household, it was ignored for quite a long time. Kong is relatively heavy for it?s size, and the smooth, shiny surfaces and Christmas Tree-like design (that?s the nearest comparison I can think of for it!) make it difficult to play fetch with, or chew easily. Stuffing the Kong with biscuits didn?t result in any increased interest from my dogs, as they found the biscuits almost impossible to get out. However, through trial and error I eventually discovered that the Kong comes into its own when stuffed with cheese, tiny biscuits (or mixer) or meat, which is relatively easy, though time consuming for the dog to remove. A well-stuffed Kong will keep my dogs occupied for ages, as they thoroughly enjoying dragging every last morsel out of the toy. Kongs are also really easy to keep clean, a squirt of washing up liquid and some hot water and your away. Kongs are reasonably priced and available in a whole range of sizes ? the smallest starting at around £2.99. Like the Pedigree rubber toys, the Kong will probably outlast your dog. However, if a Kong is beyond your budget, ?Kong-alikes? can be found in many supermarkets, which are just as good but usually much cheaper. My dogs have a real Kong, and a similar toy made by a different manufacturer, and I can honestly say that they have no preference for either one. Both toys are equally robust, of a similar size, and just as enjoyable to play with. However, if you have more than one dog, I would strongly recommend that you buy them one of these toys each, otherwise you?re likely to have a fight on your hands w
hen a stuffed Kong is produced and your dogs all want it at once!
Chewing Bone (Available from Sainsburys):
Again, I can?t remember the brand of this particular toy, but it is sold in Sainsburys for around £7 or £8. It is in the shape of a bone, with a white exterior surrounding a pink or blue area of raised, rubber spikes, and it?s marketed as a perfect toy for aggressive chewers. It isn?t. Skittle had one of these bones for twenty minutes, and utterly destroyed it. I was particularly unhappy as many of the spikes had broken off, and apparently been swallowed by the dog. Full marks to Sainsburys, however, who gave me the money back immediately when I returned to the store with the heavily chewed bone half an hour after purchasing it. These toys should be avoided in my opinion, as they are most definitely NOT suitable for aggressive chewers. Skittle is hardly a Rotweiler, she?s small even for a Collie, but this toy literally fell apart as she chewed. A total waste of money that should be withdrawn from sale.
Home Made Toys:
Benefits of making your own dog toys are obvious, in that they?re cheap, disposable and easy to make. Toys can be made from many items such as balled up tights or socks, balls of paper, empty plastic pop bottles or even empty toilet roll tubes. However, personally I wouldn?t recommend home made toys for dogs, and there?s a very good reason why. Skittle was allowed to play with all of the home made toys mentioned above as a puppy, as we had very little money and had to make do! Although she?s an intelligent dog, if she can?t find one of her own toys, she?ll bring me anything she can find, and it?s not a pleasant experience to wake up in the morning to find one of your husbands smelly socks (or even worse, smelly pants) sharing a pillow with you, I can assure you! When I?
m dropping the dirty laundry over the banister Skittle still thinks it?s a game, and brings it back up to me? Yes, this was cute the first time, but every time?!! Also, although she?s more or less got the message now that she is only allowed to chew her own toys, there are still occasions when she?s destroyed something she shouldn?t, and she?s got a nasty habit of sticking her nose in the bin to retrieve toilet roll tubes and empty bottles that she?s sure we?ve thrown away by accident, which can be dangerous of course, as well as not particularly pleasant. So, all in all I?d advise against home made toys if you can help it.
These are great for particularly large dogs, but not so good for smaller dogs, who just can?t get the large balls into their mouths. However, if some of the air is let out of a football it makes it much easier for even quite a small dog to pick up and carry, and footballs are excellent for chewing, too. Skittle has had her football for a good couple of years, and although I would only recommend them as outdoor toys (they can do far too much damage indoors) a football can certainly be a lot of fun, and if they are slightly difficult for your dog to fetch and carry, it?s much more challenging for them (and if you?ve also got a Border Collie, you?ll know exactly how much they relish a challenge). Footballs can also be purchased extremely cheaply, or even free if you win one on a can of coke!
The stereotypical dog toy of every childrens? comic. However, playing with a stick is extremely dangerous, and highly unadvisable. It is incredibly easy for a dog to become impaled upon the sharp end of a stick, or to swallow sharp splinters, which could result in serious injury, and even death. I can?t state this firmly enough, but dogs and sticks together are a lethal combination. If you really, really must play with wood with
your dog, then choose a large, sturdy branch to throw instead.
I?ve more or less covered the basic dog toys above, and my honest opinion on them all, however there are countless different variations on the dog toy, and the experiences that you and your dog have had with them may be very different to ours. I can only hope that you get some benefit from reading what the three of us have experienced.