Over millions of years, dogs have become increasingly important as ‘man’s best friend’. We, as humans, rely on dogs for comfort, companionship and even so much as safety. In more recent times we have become more concerned with the well being of our pets and animals that we even consider them as members of our families. Most likely, the understanding of their importance in our daily lives and emotional health is what has catalyzed this change. Consequently, the industry for dog toys has exploded over the past century. Some would even compare it to that of young children.
From stuffed animals to fake bones to rubber balls, what are some of the reasons why dogs need toys? What effect do we know toys have on our furry family members?
Physical Discomfort and Growth
Let’s begin with the most basic reason: a dog’s anatomical make-up. Every dog, without a doubt, will chew on any toy it’s given, or any object for that matter. Because of their teeth and the shape of their jaw, chewing on items is an effective way to relieve pain or discomfort. Think about a baby with incoming teeth. They’re constantly trying to stick things in their mouths out of both curiosity and in an attempt to stop the pain of incoming teeth. This is the same for young puppies. For any dog owner who likes to save himself the trouble of returning home and having his furniture ripped to shreds, having a selection of chew toys is a better alternative to consider!
Stress and Anxiety
Equally so, for older dogs, chewing toys can serve a few purposes.
Firstly, it can act as a healthy and effective way to maintain a strong jaw and keep their teeth clean. Secondly, chewing toys is a mechanism to cope against emotional pain, from everything ranging from anxiety and stress, to simple frustration or boredom. Think about when you’re waiting at the doctor’s office. Do you bite your nails? Tap your feet? Constantly check your phone for incoming messages? Dogs are highly emotional beings that often exhibit parallel behaviours to humans in the sense of needs. Being left alone for example can be highly stressful for any dog and providing them with a familiar and comforting object can be soothing.
Sense of Worth
Although dogs are bred primarily for human comfort and companionship, they are primarily a species that seek purpose. The Canine species is group-oriented and therefore they are satisfied when given a role to be valued within that group. With humans, a dog understands its purpose and value when shown love and care from its owner. In the moments when we aren’t showering them with affection they crave some form of a ‘job’. This could be playing ‘fetch’, or being trained to jump, sit and roll. For these various tasks, a toy acts as an excellent communication tool. With the help of a toy, an owner is able to communicate both the action (fetch, sit, jump), as well as a job well done (reward).
Intelligence and Development
Finally, dog toys are an excellent way to stimulate your pet’s intelligence and solving skills. There are more and more toys available on the market that act as puzzles. This is so important for the mental health of your pet because as we know with humans, the more things are simply handed to us, the lazier we become. Yet with stimulation, we are healthier, happier and more full-filled.
The next time you buy your dog a toy, it may be worth thinking about the reasons above, to choose something that best suits your dog’s needs.
Dog toys are essential for the wellbeing of your dog and for the ease of being a dog-owner. With the correct supervision and the correct item, there is no negative reasoning around dog toys, and in the end will make for a much happier ‘man’s best friend’.
Check out our collection of dog toys here.