Winter has retreated and, at last, warmer months have arrived. With the onset of spring we are going to find ourselves spending more time outdoors whether it be in a park, walking around our neighborhoods, or in our own backyards. For dog owners, that means our beloved canine companions will be accompanying us. Since we both will be spending more time outdoors that means we need to find some fun, interactive, outdoor dog play toys so we both can make the most of it.
Even Rover Can Get Bored…
One thing all animals have in common is the capability of independent thought. We may not all be on the same intellectual level, but we all do like different things and need some sort of stimulation in our lives. Too often, I’ve seen dog owners, especially younger ones, go off on their day and leave Fido behind to nap and pace until they return. Think about it. If you found yourself suddenly a shut in, how would you feel if your family or friends left you for long periods alone with nothing to entertain yourself with? I’m not meaning to say that these uninformed owners are doing this intentionally, but it is happening.
Just like us humans, dogs were meant to live their own lives and not just wait around for us while we go out and live ours. They may be humanity’s oldest friends, but even through tens of thousands of years of pre-history they were mostly free to roam around as they pleased. It is only recently in our history, within the past several hundred years, that our canine companions have become more or less trapped in our homes. Not all dog caregivers are lucky enough to live with a safe, fenced in yard for partially unsupervised play so it’s up to each individual to make sure your dog’s life is intellectually satisfying.
- Social Enrichment: Just like us humans, dogs are very social creatures. Long stretches of isolation during the day is detrimental to your dogs health and behavior. Find a way to schedule some extra mid-day interaction. If you cannot be available, consider enlisting a friend who can stop by and pal around with your pooch or hire a dog walker.
- Cognitive Enrichment: Rex has an intellect just like you do and providing a way to stimulate that intellect can not only make your dog smarter but can ward off boredom based behavioral problems. Puzzle games, where a treat must be unlocked or found, are a great way to give some cognitive stimulation.
- Physical Enrichment: Nature never intended for dogs to sit around idle most of the day. They need to move and exercise to stay fit and nimble. Set up some basic obstacle courses for your dog to navigate with your encouragement. Take the dog out for fun walks in addition to bathroom walks. Use a kiddie pool filled with sand for your pooch to dig up toys you’ve hidden. The physical activity will do your dog a world of good.
- Sensory Enrichment: Dogs have the same senses we do. In fact, they have far more active senses that us mere humans. Find ways for Pugsley to use them by hiding treats around the home to be sniffed out in a hunting game. Dog safe bubbles can be entertaining for the both of you. Researchers have created audio tracks to help dogs with separation anxiety and there is even a DogTV network intended for the same purpose.
Come On, Let’s Play!
When it comes to enriching your four-legged friend’s life, toys can be incredibly convenient tools. There are millions out there on the market designed for all different purposes but they are not all designed to the same standards. Some are designed for indoor use while others are for outdoor. There are those for social play while others are intended for individual time. Toys are also made with the size, age, and breed of the intended end user in mind. Most importantly is the safety of the toy. Rover is not able to tell if a toy is made safely or not. That duty lies to us. I don’t mean to make choosing the right toy for your pooch sound like a complicated affair, but you do need to keep some things in mind to guide your decision.
- Safety: Not all toys are made the same. Small parts, such as bells and squeakers, can be potential choking hazards. Are the materials it’s made from dog safe? These are all things that need to be researched before purchasing. In general, stick to name brands with proven track records and pay attention to customer ratings.
- Age Appropriateness: Your dog’s age matters! Puppies have softer baby teeth and shouldn’t be chewing on ultra hard toys while teething dogs need more specialized textures. Older dogs can handle the hard rubber that can help a toy last far longer. Make sure to keep your pooch’s age in mind when picking out a toy.
- Size Appropriateness: Would you give a toy sized for a large German Shepard to a tiny Chihuahua? Or how about vice versa? If the toy is too small it can quickly become a choking hazard. If it’s too big your dog won’t be able to effectively play and will get bored with it quickly.
- Indoor or Outdoor: Consider the intended use for the toy. Do you want it to be for outdoor play? Hard rubber, sturdy ropes, and balls that can float are all good options. Softer plush toys are far better suited for indoor play.
Want To Go To The Park!?
I mentioned before about picturing yourself as a shut in and being left alone during the day with nothing to do and no means to entertain yourself. How do you think your sanity would fare? The same is true for dogs. Even if we interact with them indoors, there is still nothing like playing outdoors. Sure, they make it outside for a quick bathroom run, but is that really enough? Dogs get just as much benefit from playing in the yard or heading out to the park as humans do. In fact, it is even more important for them than it is for us.
- Exercise and Weight Control: Just like humans, dogs can gain excess weight if they are sitting around the house day in and day out. This can lead to some serious health problems for them. Getting outside daily specifically for play helps for a happy, healthier dog. This is especially true for the working and sporting breeds such as boarder collies, huskies, etc.
- Reduced Anxiety and Depression: Without proper stimulation your dog will get bored and this can lead to anxiety, depression, and a whole host of behavioral problems including aggression. Outdoor play brings that much more stimulation to Rover’s life and gives him a proper outlet for what otherwise would be bad behavior.
- Sunlight Exposure: Another way our canine companions are similar to us is needing sunlight to maintain a proper balance of vitamin D. This all important vitamin is essential bone health and maintaining their body’s correct calcium to phosphorous ratio. Glass windows can block a lot of the sun’s radiation so your dog needs to spend time outside in order to gain the maximum benefit.
- Fresh Air: While we do our best to keep our indoor environments clean, there will always be some sort of low level air pollution in our homes. It comes from our carpets, furniture, manufactured décor, cooking, cleaning, etc. While these levels are tolerable, we still need to get out doors and breath in some fresh air from time to time and so do our pets. It boosts their mood just as it boosts ours.
The first thing most think of when it comes to outdoor games to play with your dog is fetch. This game can be much more than just throwing a stick. Try using a disc that allows you to vary the speed and can change direction mid-flight to challenge Fido’s agility. Is your shoulder limiting your play time? Try using a ball launcher that way Rex can let you know when he’s done rather than your muscles.
Made of durable KONG Classic rubber which allows for a forgiving catch, plus the material delivers a dynamic rebound just in case your dog misses the initial toss. Let your dog’s love of fetch take flight with a safer disc that delivers tons of healthy activity.
iFetch Interactive Ball Launcher
The iFetch Too automatic ball launcher is a big dog’s fetching dream! Once your dog places the standard sized tennis ball into the top of the iFetch Too, this interactive dog toy throws it 10, 25 or 40 feet. (Or set it to “random” to keep your pet guessing!) Features an internal rechargeable battery and distance setting changes with a touch of a button.
Hyper Pet K9 Kannon K2 Ball Launcher
Have fun with your furry best friend and keep a game of fetch going for hours! Hyper Pet K9 cannons are perfect dog toys for hours of interactive playtime in the backyard, at the park, or on the Beach. Launch tennis balls for small dogs and big dogs without straining your arm.
Hyper Pet Tennis Balls For Dogs
These tennis balls are the ideal size for fetching and are designed to keep your dog healthy through interactive play. The bright orange, pink, and Green colors make them easy to locate in bushes, leaves, and grass. They float so that they won’t get lost in the water. Whether you are at the park, Beach, or in your backyard, enjoy the pleasure of throwing a dog tennis ball with your furry best friend!
One thing most dog owners know is that they love to play tug. Having the right tug toys will give the two of you hours of fun and help ensure that the toys get worn out instead of your stuff! That, and it’s a great bonding activity for the two of you.
Pacific Pups Products Rope Toys For Dogs
Pacific Pups Products Dog Toys were created to support Pacific Pups Rescue, a non-profit dog rescue in California. Pacific Pups Products created the best dog toys with the best of intentions. These products helps support their ongoing efforts to save dogs from high kill shelters.
HETOO Dog Rope Chew Toys For Puppy Training
Dogs are chewers by nature. If your dog is not engaged enough, they may choose to create their own fun with your belongings. Train them early and train them right for a long and trouble free relationship.
POPETPOP Dog Outdoor Toy Extendable Teaser Wand
A great interactive outside toy for you and your dog, which can help to promote mutual communication during playing. A crazy funny dog teaser that can satisfy curiosity and reduce anxiety of your dog as the healthy exercise
StarMark Fantastic Foam Ball Rope Dog Toy
This virtually indestructible foam ball is now available on a rope. Made from a patented strong foam material that is soft and safe in dogs’ mouths. Floats in water and great bounce.
Most dogs love to play in the water, especially during the hot weather. Not only does it help them stay cool but it helps keep them stimulated at the same time. Floating toys allow you to extend the game of fetch to a new arena while a doggie powered fountain can keep your pooch entertained on a hot day. And hey, even our dogs like to lounge around the pool sometimes!
KONG Aqua Dog Toy
The KONG Aqua is a floating retrieval toy that promotes fun and exercise both in and out of water. The KONG Aqua has a foam core that keeps it floating while your dog swims out to fetch it.
GoodBoy Water Fountain for Dogs
Drinking water has never been so much fun. This is the perfect outdoor interactive water dispenser for pets of any size. Veterinarians agree that interactive feeding and watering prevents pets from getting bored and helps to ensure our pets are happy, hydrated, and healthy.
Kurgo Fetch Toy for Dogs
Get out on those beautiful summer days and launch playtime with your pup’s most favorite outdoor game ever! Throw it, chase it, fetch it: & repeat with the Kurgo Skipping Stones Floating Dog Fetch Toy.
Midlee Dog Raft Pool Float
Does your dog enjoy being by you when in the pool but doesn’t want to swim? This dog pool raft is perfect! Your dog can lounge on top while you swim nearby.
Bonus! Portable Dog Pool
Warm springs and hot summers can mean reduced time spent playing outdoors. Help keep the fun going with a pool of their vary own. Fido can run and play all he wants, then stay cool with a quick dip. Don’t let the heat put a cramp on your play time.
FrontPet Foldable Dog Pool
Want to make those hot summer days more enjoyable for your dog? This is not your standard, plastic, off-the-shelf baby pool. This pool is made for dogs and it’s built to last. Have peace of mind knowing that the pool won’t tear or leak, while you watch your pup run and jump in and out of the water!
The Call Of The Wild
Spring has begun, summer is approaching, and we are starting to spend more time outside of our homes. Along for the ride are our furry, four-legged family members. While walks might be great for a short while we still need some fun, interactive, outdoor dog play toys to help make the time more entertaining. Just like humans, dogs need enrichment in their lives. Boredom can lead to several problems including anxiety and aggression. Putting some thought behind the toys we buy them will go a long way towards keeping Rex and Fido simulated and happy. Hopefully I’ve given you some ideas of what to purchase to allow the both of you to get out and enjoy the fresh air. What are you waiting for? Get out there, run, be free, and play safe!
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