Features September 2000 Issue

Creative Dog Toys

WDJ institutes a new grading system for reviewed products: 1-4 Paws.

Dogs can never have enough toys, and here at WDJ we are always on the lookout for creative new toys to help you enjoy your canine companions.

Good toys are crucial for several reasons. First and foremost, bored dogs are far more likely to engage in behaviors that – while perfectly natural and reasonable activities for a dog with time on his paws – are not the sort of things that will please you. Things like barking at anything that moves outside the windows of the house, attempting to dig out the source of a trail of ants in the kitchen, or chewing on the table legs. If occupied with toys that are engaging (at least more so than the windows, the ants, and the table legs) and enjoyable (satisfying to chew, say, or so exciting as to be self-reinforcing), your dog is much less likely to redecorate your home when you’re at work.

Speaking of reinforcement, new toys are often even more attractive than old favorites. If you use a toy as a lure or toy-time as a reward, you might find that bringing out an unfamiliar toy increases your dog’s initiative and willingness to deliver the behaviors you ask for.

Our Jack Russell went crazy
for the noisy and unpredictably
rolling “Wiggly Giggly” ball.

New and exciting toys also give you and your dog something fun to explore together. Current events don’t interest Fido as “conversation topics,” but new toys do! And watching your dog’s response to the latest, greatest toy is great fun; you never know how your dog is going to respond. One dog’s “Wow, totally cool!” toy is another dog’s “Ho-hum, boring.” While it’s helpful to know your dog’s temperament and preferences in play-toys, these canine guys and gals will often surprise you. That Frisbee-addicted Poodle just might turn out to have a new-found fascination for balls that squeal.

Unfortunately, the fact that you can never be sure what your dog will and will not enjoy means that our test dogs’ favorites may do nothing whatsoever for your pooch. (But don’t dispose the ones that your dog deems duds; consider trading them with other dog-loving friends, or donating them to your local animal shelter.)

In addition to the elusive and variable “dog appeal,” the toy’s cost, safety, and durability are critically important elements of toy selection. Taking all of this into account, we rate a number of new toys on a scale of one to four paws. Click here to view our rating system.

Also With This Article
Click here to view the toys tested and reviewed.

 

-By Pat Miller

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