Dogs need exercise. If left to their own devices, they tend to chase cats, sniff guests and chew sofas. That's why the Kong, balls and Frisbees can be man's second best friend.
Kong. Fritz was a German shepherd that enjoyed chewing rocks. Fritz also enjoyed being able to eat — something he would have trouble doing if he continued chewing rocks. The king of Kong, Joe Markham, recounts that one day while working on his Volkswagen, he saw Fritz chewing on rocks. In an effort to distract Fritz from the rocks, Markham threw car parts in the general area. Fritz was uninterested until he noticed a rubber suspension part. Fritz loved it. Thousands of dogs since then have loved its offspring, Kong, a popular line of tough, rubber toys shaped like a snowman that are excellent for active canines like Fritz. Here are some tips for getting the most out of a Kong toy:
- Stuff it with treats. Peanut butter is the classic Kong-stuffer, but you also can add some kibble, dog treats or other favorite goodies.
- Stuff it with your dog's normal meal. The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) suggests that dogs were meant to work for their food; otherwise, they might get bored and eat the armchair instead.
- Hide the Kong. The Kong should be easy to find at first; make it more difficult as your dog progresses. Hiding it makes it fun.
Balls. Fetch is the standard dog game and the easiest to play. Although some dogs prefer sticks, most prefer balls. The SPCA recommends you match the ball with your pet, avoid small balls that your dog could choke on and don't use anything edible. For best results, try tennis balls, a squeaky tennis ball or a specially made fetch ball. If your dog is reluctant to put a ball in its mouth, sprinkle the toy with some chicken broth and reward your pet with a treat. He'll soon catch on that fetching a ball is a good thing.
Frisbees. The dogs that catch Frisbees at the park get all the attention. Dogs that catch hard plastic Frisbees at the park, however, lose their teeth sometimes. When playing Frisbee, make sure you get one that's specially made for dogs. To teach your dog to catch the Frisbee, start by letting your dog take the Frisbee out of your hand and progress to tug of war (always let the dog win). Teach him to fetch the Frisbee by rolling it on the ground, and then throw it. Some dogs will naturally try to jump in the air and catch it. Others need a little coaxing.
These three toys will help you and your family bond with your dog and will help keep your pet active, happy and healthy.