How to Choose Dog Games & Toys
This week I had the pleasure of interviewing Lisa Woody, author of Dog Blog and DogToys&Treats.com, a great source of valuable tips and information about dogs and cool new dog products. Check out what Lisa has to say about her top picks for new dog products, emerging trends in dog products, and her advice for new pet owners:
1. The Burrow Bed. Often copied, never duplicated. It’s a cozy bed that burrowing dogs can climb into. It’s been our top-selling bed for 7 years.
2. The Cabana Crate Cover with pillow bed … cozy and versatile. You can pull up the “windows” to let your dog see what’s going on around the house, or put them down if your dog is nervous about visitors, vacuuming, etc. Makes a cozy den or an open perch. Most of all, it makes a crate a place dogs love.
3. The Goughnut dog toy. Shaped like a doughnut, durable and made in America. So tough there’s a lifetime guarantee on every toy.
4. Grandma Lucy’s organic dog treats. They’re baked in a human foods bakery or organic ingredients. They smell heavenly and they’re cute! Plus, you get a lot of cookies in a resealable zip-lock bag. Great price, too. What’s not to love? They come in blueberry, pumpkin, ginger, honey and cinnamon flavors.
5. Funniest toy of the year: Humungastache. It’s a fetch ball with a rubber “mustache” that makes your do look hilarious when he carries it.
New Trends in Dog Products:
There are three trends I see emerging in dog products, based on what manufactures are developing and what consumers are buying. The first is raw diets. People are realizing that dogs were never designed to live on grains exclusively, which is basically what commercial kibble dog food is, not matter what the bag says. Raw diets (and commercial raw foods) are on a huge upswing. The second is funny products. From hilarious tees (like the one in Facebook blue that says, “Like me”) to funny toys, humor is SO in right now. A third is organic and made in America items. West Paw Design is a leading manufacturer in this area. They have beds that are made from organically grown cotton, dyed with vegetable-based dyes, and filled with recycled soda bottles. Other companies are coming on board rapidly.
A product that I’d love to see developed is a slip-chain that says at the top of the dog’s neck where it can be effective. Lots of people try Ceasar Millan’s method to teach their dog to heel, but the collar goes down to the base of the neck and stays there. Another product is the dog cookie bouquet. I had a vendor who made them, but she got out of the business and I haven’t seen anyone else doing it. I’m talking about dog cookies, not human cookies shaped like dogs. Also, more birthday stuff. Dog birthdays are big, but there are only a handful of manufacturers making the same stuff you see everywhere. I’d love to see some new manufacturers come up with some new items (how about a plush birthday balloon?).
Most Popular Dog Products:
Treatstik – It’s a great way to feed your dog. Dogs want to hunt for their food. This unbreakable toy will dispense food, small treats, Cheerios, cubed carrots, etc. as your dog rolls it around. When it’s empty, your dog brings it to you and you fill it up again. Keeps the dog busy for much of the day, even when it’s too cold or wet to go outside.
Dog Backpack - This great backpack is perfect for hyper dogs of any size (under 10 lbs to over 100 lbs). Can triple the impact of your walk: Walking the dog for 15 minutes with 20% of the dog;s body weight in the pack will give him a workout equal to a 45 minute walk.
Barksters – Air-puffed treats with lots of crunch and flavor, yet only 12 calories each. Dog owners are concerned about canine obesity, and these great-tasting, all-natural treats are light and satisfying. I love that they’re made from U.S. farm grown ingredients, too.
Himalayan Dog Chew - An all-day chew made of cheese but needing no refrigeration. The recipe is centuries old. Thethat is made from yak and cow milk, hardened into a chew that the dog must work at. It is extremely hard. Dogs like chews that they can wear down and “make progress” on. This one is digestible and does allow the dog to consume very small amounts at a time, so the dog has the satisfaction of getting through the chew (eventually). Purchased from farmers in Nepal.
Nootie Pet Shampoo - I’m a Bath & Body Works junkie, so when I saw these shampoos in my favorite flavors — Warm Vanilla Cookie, Japanese Cherry Blossom and Coconut Lime Verbana — I just flipped. They’re made with natural ingredients for a gentle clean, no sulfates, paraben, or harsh chemicals. And they’re safe to use with topical flea products. The fragrance is very mild, never overpowering to dogs’ sensitive noses. Our customers love these!
Lisa’s Advice for New Dog Owners:
Give the dog the kind of food he was meant to eat in a natural state. Cancer is the number one cause of canine deaths, and that’s just not natural. Canine diabetes is on the rise. Dogs need mostly protein, with a little bit of veggies, fruits, and grains, not the other way around. But good meat doesn’t have a 12 month shelf life, so that’s not what dog owners are given to feed their dogs. Don’t take what you’re given. Give what the dog needs. I have a friend with gorgeous Golden Retrievers and all she feeds them is raw turkey legs. Uncooked bones do not splinter, and they provide marrow, which has essential nutrients. I give my 65-lb Irish Setter chicken wings, legs, and gizzards, plus occasional veggies, fruits and table scraps. He’s got a shiny coat, bright eyes, energy like a terrier, no skin allergies, no lumps or bumps under his skin, less poop, no digestive issues, no health problems at all. He’s nine years old and people think he’s a puppy.
Also, give your dog plenty to do. Taking him for walks, teach him tricks, rotate toys, go for car rides … there are lots of things to do to keep your dog’s mind and body challenged. Boredom-induced behavior problems account for the majority of reasons why dogs are surrendered to animal shelters. Keep your dog occupied and she’ll be a great companion and devoted friend for a lifetime.
We couldn’t agree more, Lisa! To learn over 50 ways that you can have keep your dog’s mind stimulated while giving him or her the exercise they need, check out the My Doggy Genius eBook & DVD series today!
In choosing the best dog games and toys to play with your pet, three of the most important factors that you have to consider are the size and breed of your canine friend, as well asyour dog’s individual personality. Here are some tips to guide you:
Does size matter?
When playing with small dogs, experts say that you must remember that they are dogs. They may be small, but they are still dogs, and as such must be allowed to walk, and not be carried around all the time. Another recommendation is to choose the same games that you would for larger dogs, but make sure to downsize the game. If a larger dog can do an obstacle course, so can a small dog – only, it has to be a smaller one. If a larger dog can play hide and seek, so can a small dog – just make sure you cover a smaller area in choosing hiding places. This will help prevent your small dog from tiring too easily. Also, consider that a smaller dog is more fragile than a larger one, so take extra care when engaging him in physical activity.
Some breeds have demonstrated marked intellectual abilities and would benefit in particular from the mental and physical challenges of obedience training, tricks, and dog games. These breeds include the German Shepherd, Doberman Pinschers, Border Collies, Rottweilers and Labrador Retrievers. On the other hand, there are “working breeds” such as Doberman, Rottweiler, Great Dane,Akita, German Pinscher and St. Bernard that are especially suited to carrying weight. These usually have huge supplies of energy and would benefit from running beside you as you rollerblade or ride a bike, or playing a game of “Pull the Wagon”. You could also pad extra weight onto his dog harness so that he is carrying a heavier load. Note that a working dog that is not able to get enough physical activity may become lethargic, restless or neurotic.
Specific toys can also be chosen by your dog because of characteristics of their breed – for example, Jack Russell Terriers can be very tenacious; pit bulls have very large heads – so be cautious about giving a larger dog a smaller toy. Tendencies within certain breeds, such as a tendency towards chewing, need to be taken into account when choosing toys and games for your dogs. Although of course there can be tremendous variation within breeds, it’s important for owners do their research about and take into consideration known tendencies in particular breeds when selecting toys and games for their dogs. To learn more about your dog’s breed-specific tendencies, visit the American Kennel Club website for a wealth of information.
What’s personality got to do with it?
Camilla Gray-Nelson emphasize that like humans, dogs have different personalities, and will prefer some toys over others. Your dog will tell you what he or she likes and what she couldn’t care less about. Sometimes, your dog’s choice of toys and games has more to do with your dog’s personality than their breed – as you’ll see on the videos with Tango and Sparky!
Lastly, rough-housing is neither appropriate nor safe for any size or breed of dog. Dogs must always be treated with kindness and consideration, whether at home or when playing games with your dog.
Check out this awesome video of some dogs with very specific talents and preferences for the activities that they love!
Camilla Gray-Nelson is a dog successful dog trainer and owner of Dairydell Canine, the fastest growing dog training center in Northern California. For more information about Camilla, please visit her website at: http://www.dairydell.com/media/About_Camilla.html