Question: Help! There are so many different kinds of toys available for dogs, and some of them are really pricey. Which ones should I choose?
Answer: There are as many toys out there as dog breeds. When choosing a dog toy you will have to consider the dog’s breed, size and most importantly, your dog’s personal preference.
Since your dog will have his own likes and dislikes it is best to only buy a few toys of varying types to start. As your puppy grows you will see his/her tastes change. He/She will play with one toy more than the others. You will quickly find his/her favorites. Then you will be able to get more toys as old ones get destroyed as well as expand his/her toy collection!
Cockapoos are medium sized dogs but they do not have powerful jaws. There are some ten pound dogs out there with steel-trap jaws that can chew through a table leg! And then there are your larger breed dogs that are known voracious chewers, like labradors, that can destroy a tennis ball as soon as look at it (and your favorite shoes, your dining room table legs, and your kids’ hands). This means needing serious daily exercise and having some creative toy strategies.
But not your cockapoo! He/she is going to be pretty easy to satisfy. Your pup is unlikely to want any large or tough-chewer, rubberized type chewing toys. Really hefty and sturdy toys like the “Kong” brand toys are unlikely to appeal to your puppy. Instead of focusing on the energy outlet of chewing, you’ll need to focus on toys that will satisfy his/her need for mental stimulation.
Puzzle toys are always big hits with cockapoos. My dogs absolutely adore an easy to find and not overly priced puzzle toy that has a big stuffed “log” and stuffed squirrels that can be shoved into the log. The dog has to figure out how to pry out these most coveted of toys. My dogs go simply crazy for these squirrels. They play fetch with them, carry them around and “groom” them, “kill” them and adore playing the game we call “go get your baby” (we call the squirrels their “baby” since they carry them around and groom them. It is our male dog that does this the most!) We “hide and seek” with these best loved squirrel toys and our dogs really enjoy finding the toys. Simple, easy to find places are best to start. Our pooches have loved their way through about two log toys and three sets of replacement squirrels (you can buy them separately as “replacements” for the puzzle toy).
There are other puzzle toys like this that use stuffed toys, treats, and other things. These are awesome toys and really stimulate your dog’s mind. These kinds of toys and activities are what will keep your dog happy and healthy and prevent boredom and anxiety (which leads to destruction of household items).
Other toys that are great include “fluff free” soft toys. These are not necessary once your puppy is done teething, but before then your pup may be a more aggressive chewer. If that is the case any time your pup starts to pull fluff out of a stuffed toy the fluff (and sometimes the toy) must be discarded. Our adult dogs prefer stuffed toys with their fluff, but older pups (between 12 weeks and 9 months) are much more likely to de-fluff their toys and render them health hazards.
While some dogs MUST have long daily walks or runs, cockapoos MUST have daily mental stimulation. They also need exercise and daily walks are wonderful! But if you can’t do this every day a cockapoo will not become bored, over energized and destructive. They will become that way (and may begin problem barking, whining or destructive chewing) if they do not have an outlet for their acute intelligence. A game of fetch (indoors is actually just fine, they don’t need to run very far to get their exercise). A few minutes several times a day can really boost their doggy happiness.
Keep in mind that puppies do lose their “baby/milk” or deciduous teeth beginning around 3 months of age. The adult teeth move in and just like a human baby your puppy will actually need to find gum massage and relief from chewable surfaces (or your puppy will find those surfaces on his/her own…much to your dismay)
Chew/teething toys made for small or toy sized dogs will work for this purpose for the small mouth of your growing puppy. Anything with a texture to it and even sturdy baby teething rings can help your puppy. In the hot summer months there are lots of great ways to help your puppy relieve teething discomfort.
Refrigerated clean carrots are both nutritious and excellent teething toys. They are safe, non-toxic, and actually quite healthy. Most dogs actually find them to be pretty yummy as well. Apples, halved or quartered and seeds removed, are also excellent teething toy-treats. I’ve had lots of luck with large chunks of raw, cold sweet-potatoes (or called “Yams” in America, although they are not true yams).
These vegetable chew toys are disposable, inexpensive, safe and nutritious. They are also messy. I recommend giving these to your puppy outdoors on a nice day (on a spot that doesn’t have lots of dirt or you’ll wind up with a very messy puppy). I’ve also had lots of luck giving these treats indoors on a hard, washable surface (like a kitchen floor or even in the bathtub) or on a designated “dog towel”.
Tug-o-war toys like braided ropes or a knotted old strip of t-shirt are also great fun and excellent for a teething puppy. Rope chews are always a big hit with my guys. A teething puppy can make a mess with these, so be prepared. A non-teething Cockapoo is unlikely to make a huge mess with rope chews on a regular basis.
Cockapoos are retrievers. Their parent breeds are bird-hunting gun dogs. Cockapoos should take readily to water and show a particular interest in birds. My dogs do all of the above. All my Cockapoos just adore any game of fetch. They really like to fetch stuffed toys shaped like geese or pheasant and these make realistic sounds that just make my dogs go wild!
There are toys that help you fling tennis balls a long distance rather easily. Don’t forget that a puppy is unlikely to feel comfortable running very far away from you (you’re his protection after all) and a puppy may not have the eye-sight or experience to even be able to see and find a far-flung ball. So if you try one of these toys start small and be prepared to do the fetching yourself if your pup hasn’t gotten the hang of the game. There are miniature ball flingers available and my dogs do enjoy these, as do I, since I do not enjoy fetching the ball for myself. My dogs mostly love to fetch small stuffed toys and we regularly play fetch inside the house, even. Fetch does not always have to be an outdoor game involving very long throws.
Ultimately, dogs are individuals with their own personal preferences. Start off with a few inexpensive toys of different varieties and see what your furry pal prefers. Have fun!!