It is impossible to miss that Christmas is well and truly underway, in our shops at least. I am always a little bothered by its early arrival but I soon get carried away with the twinkly lights and pretty decorations. I love any celebration where people are ‘officially’ supposed to be nice to one another.
In my new book, ‘Being a Dog’, as well as describing how your dog sees and responds to the world around him, I talk about our human behaviour, where we buy our dogs presents, have parties for them and generally spend a lot of money on things they may or may not need. Christmas shopping is one of those times where we can easily get carried away. What might your dog actually prefer, and does he really need more, or any, toys?
Sometimes I visit a client’s home and they have toy boxes filled with squeaky, furry, fluffy dog playthings but still they report that the dog is not interested in them, preferring shoes, dirty laundry, or the childrens’ toys. Why spend money on more things for the dog that they won’t play with?
Yes, dogs do need their own safe things to enjoy so that they will be less likely to chew up unsafe items. We have great pet shops locally for you to source these. Dogs like novelty, so the new toy you buy will be enjoyable for a while until your dog gets to explore it, but after a while it could be relegated to the toy box graveyard along with all the others. The solution? Take some of the toys away and put them out of reach for a while. You can swap them over after a few weeks and hey presto! A whole set of ‘new’ toys to delight your dog.
The biggest attraction for dog goodies is the scent the item holds, followed by the texture. Dogs generally prefer softer items compared to solid or metal, possibly because they enjoy this texture in their mouths (rabbit-like, perhaps). These items retain any scent more readily, so your shoes, gloves, socks and underwear may be particularly tempting.
To deter them from playing with things you own, you might use a pet-safe bitter-tasting spray on the item, but preferably choose a series of safe-to-chew dog toys that can contain food. This maintains novelty, gives the dog something tasty and interesting to explore.
They could even replace the boring old dog dinner bowl as a fun activity in the gloomy winter months to come.