The best toys for your dog or pup (Garrett’s favorite picks)

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In this exciting installment brought to you from thecaninecalmer I am going to detail a few of my absolute favorite dog toys and provide the links right to them.  These excellent items will aid in quality playtime and in what I like to call “play training.”

As we go over these toys please bear in mind that I am not your average neighbor that you may happen upon at the dog park that is equipped with just enough info to potentially make things worse for you.  Instead, I eat, live, and breath dogs and have done so for the past twelve (soon to be thirteen years).  The toys I will mention here will do their jobs admirably and should function well for both the dog body and your human body.

Ergonomics and comfort are important when a human body is interacting with a much shorter, wiry, tough, fast, furred body that is equipped with a much different set of senses and movements – most of which occurring below our center of gravity.  Again, as in almost all things we discuss on this fine blog, efficient results are of utmost concern.  In this case the goal is good ol’ family fun with occasional working obedience training smoothly slipped into the session.  In this way the pup or dog is typically unaware that they are working and obeying you because they are having such a good time exerting themselves as they practice their prey drive at escalated energy levels while simultaneously shadowing your movements and furthering your bond.

(Please note: these toys are my dog’s favorite and mine too.  We do NOT leave them down or out where the dogs have free access to them.  They are put away after our play sessions and because of this, they are highly prized by the dogs.)

Planet dog’s Orbee ball and rope combo

I love this set up!  This is a quality item.  The Orbee balls are what put the Planet dog company on the map and with good reason.  They are tough, bouncy, and buoyant.  These balls are durable, recyclable, non-toxic, and made in the USofA!  They come with a 100% satisfaction guarantee!  These balls are great and I suggest the one with the little continents on it (the ball is designed to look like the planet and the land masses are slightly raised).  Because the continents on the ball are higher than what would be the oceans and seas when the ball bounces off the ground it shoots back up in strange new directions which further excites our dogs!  There is no boring, straight-line fetch going on with this toy.  Instead it keeps the dogs on their paws and ready for more.  (Which, incidentally leads to the draining of their energy in a more efficient time period).

We have two Planet dog Orbee products in our home.  One does not have the little rope attached. It is just the ball that looks like the planet.  The other has ball and the rope.  Everyone in the household prefers the model with the rope attachment.  I think even the dogs prefer it.  Here are a couple reasons why I highly suggest the rope option…

  1. With the rope on the end of the ball you greatly enhance your throwing distance.  Similar to the propulsion that comes from an atlatl – the rope will make your throws look like you have the arm and throwing capacity of the next utility outfielder for the Seattle Mariners.
  2. With the rope you greatly cut down on slobber and slime as you are taking the retrieved ball back from your dog.  The Orbee ball material can be quite slick once wet (maybe this is another reason our dogs love it – they chomp and compress the thing all while retrieving it and running back to us.
  3. If you have a multi-dog household like we do (we have two boxers) the ball and rope combo allows for two dogs (maybe even three) to grab on and have fun.  They can retrieve together!  This is usually the case with both of my dogs.  They look like dog coursers (cart, carriage, or sled pull team) as they charge back at me across the lawn, their faces close by each other and their bodies side-by-side in harmony, one mouth squeezing and chewing on the ball, the other clinging and pulling at the rope.
  4. One thing you should notice right away when you receive your Orbee ball and rope combo is that the rope itself is different from many of the other ropes you’ve seen or felt in other dog toys.  This little rope is very tightly wound.  Because it is wound this way it does not just unravel like we have seen so many other dog and puppy rope toys do.

Here is the link to my favorite Orbee and rope combo.  It is well worth the money to get a quality item than to continuously drain dollars and cents and time replacing a cheaper toy.  Do yourself and your dog a favor.  Order this baby!

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Hyperflite Jawz competition discs (frisbees)

These are the “toughest and best-flying, puncture-resistant competition discs ever made.”  That’s what it says on their website and I wholeheartedly agree.  Over the years I’ve seen a plethora of shoddily made and terribly flying frisbees and discs for dogs.  The Jawz disc from Hyperflite has outdone them all.  These discs fly incredibly well.

There are two traps to beware when purchasing a flying toy or disc-type toy for your dog.  The first is that the disc is made overly flexible and or soft.  These kind simply do not fly well.  The inventors, probably in their attempt to avoid a brittleness in the disc and in order to protect the dog’s mouth went way too far the other way.  Their flopping discs may stimulate your dog or pup for a time but the human enjoyment fades quickly and this eventually diminishes the dog’s own enjoyment.  Throwing a too-floppy disc is not fun.  The other thing to beware of is, of course, overly brittle disc.  We’ve all seen (and perhaps even purchased) the super cheap and very brittle throwing discs at those discount bins in the major pet supermarkets.  And those of us that have brought them home to our dogs and thrown them also watched those brittle things burst and crack into pieces after a throw or three.  Dog teeth easily punch into and eventually through these cheap plastic toys.

Hyperflite has somehow managed to cut out the weaknesses that exist in so many other dog disc toys and only build on the strengths!  Their disc is incredible!  The Jawz disc they’ve come out with is remarkably tough and comes with “anti-glare technology.”

As a boxer owner I fully understand that my dogs are probably not going to beat out any trained Border collie, Aussie shepherd, or Heeler in a pro disc competition.  But we certainly have a lot of fun in our large backyard.  I love throwing my Jawz disc for them (Rambo in particular) and watching them explode into the air at a distance, their own jaws snapping and bringing down the disc.

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Rambo getting some serious air

 

(Special note:  If you are interested in getting your dog started on a little frisbee/disc play training I would first recommend that your pup have a strong retrieve.  If you don’t have that down you must start with tug of war – there is an entire chapter on the benefits of tug of war and playing backwards in my Hot-Listed book on dog and human behavior, Dog Myths: What you believe about dogs can come back to Bite You!, check it out.  If your dog has a good and full retrieve down pat then I would still suggest increasing tug or war and luring the dog in and around your body.  See if you can get him/her to come around behind your back and between your legs.  One of the easiest ways for a pup to learn to catch the disc is to have them come running around behind you (you do this by passing the disc behind your back like a fancy “behind the back” basketball pass) and then gently tossing it straight ahead and just in front of the pup.  Hopefully you’ve already worked him up into snapping for the disc and he runs forward and grabs it before it hits the ground.  Have fun!)

Watching your dog explode forward and up into the sky, at sometimes bizarre angles, while going after a quality, flying disc and working together as a team is loads of fun.  Give it a try!

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Well that’s about it for now, folks.  We appreciate you spreading the word and sharing this post and while you are on Amazon remember to pick up a copy (or two – you may want to donate one or gift one to a local shelter or family or friend) of our HOT Listed book on dog and human behavior, Dog Myths: What you Believe about dogs can come back to Bite You, to you cart too along with this great toys!!

Thanks and happy playing,

-G

 

 

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Are you playing the wrong way?

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I know it’s a wild question.  We figure that play is just a “free for all” helluva’ good time with our dogs and pups, right?  WRONG!

Let’s pause for a brief moment and try and think back to any of the educational nature programming you’ve watched on predators (in particular mammals).  Can you recall ever hearing how the wolf pups, or lion cubs, or cheetah cubs (etc) were playing to learn, to reinforce social bonds and positioning within the family group, and playing to practice critical hunting skills they’ll need when they are older?  If you cannot.  I certainly can.  In almost every one of those Nature, Discovery, or Nat Geo programs those lines would be mentioned when considering how the young predators played.  Play, as I’ve mentioned before in this fine blog, is critically important to intelligent creatures.  Let’s take a deeper look and see what we can apply to our dogs to enhance our relationship and their obedience.

Play is structured.  It is NOT a “free for all” where anything goes.  If it even begins to become out of control there will most assuredly be a “foul” called or a “flag” thrown in order to pause the game.  It is the same in wild or domesticated predators!  Your dog is a domesticated predator and not just a furry human toddler.  Dogs are predators even if you earnestly want to believe and buy into the fairy tale of the “fur baby”- it is simply NOT true.  (For healthy relationships honesty is a major key!  Let’s get real please.)

Continuing… Play reinforces social connection, provides exercise, energy escalation and de-escalation, mental stimulation, and can be a huge indicator of just where the relationship is at (I’m talking about the relationship between you and your dog/puppy now).

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Did you know that many dogs and puppies manipulate the heck out of their owners during a simple play session?  It’s true and I observe it everyday in my work with owners and their dogs.  I’ve detailed many dog manipulations that contribute to behavioral problems and that can be prevented or reversed in my HOT Listed book on dog training, language and behavior, DOG MYTHS: What you Believe about dogs can come back to BITE You!  (please click on the link, buy it, read it, be shocked by it, be motivated and equipped by it, love it, and then review it so others can find it too!  The reviews have begun to come in about Dog Myths and people are Raving btw!)

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For great play which can help build a great relationship between you and your puppy or dog ……………

  1. Never Chase the dog!  – “But he loves it” you’ll say.  So what?  Drug addicts love their drugs, does that mean they have excellent and successful relationships with those around them?  Does that mean you want them living in your home?  Does that mean you become a drug dealer?  If you chase your puppy or dog ask yourself just what is being reinforced over time?  The average dog can run 32 miles per hour!  And some breeds get up near 40 miles per hour!  Greyhounds can reach 45mph!  I don’t know about you but I don’t want to begin my relationship with a puppy or new rescue dog or any dog teaching them that they can go high speed away from me, away from my space!  I don’t need them in on the fact that they can easily outpace me because rudeness could develop from there.  I say “could” to be gentle on you, Dear Reader, in truth it often does.  I’m guessing that you don’t want to find yourself in a place where you have to catch your dog or pup or have to lunge after them while they showcase their speed and agility in a masterfully manipulative social one-up?  Don’t chase them.

If you’ve read some of my stuff you’ll know that the most important things to our dogs when we are discussing language and communication and relationship are touch and space.  If we chase our dogs and they run and easily take their space away from us it paves the way to more behavioral issues.

2. Always play backwards or run from the dog!  -I have devoted a whole chapter in Dog Myths about playing backwards and drawing the dog or pup to you and to your space because it is vitally important in the relationship.  Our dogs are domesticated predators but they are NOT wild predators.  That means one should never have to catch their dog.  Catching or trapping is what one does with a wild creature and not a domesticated animal that lives in your stinkin’ home, correct?  There must be more respect and trust and clear communication than that.  If you do, in fact, have to catch your pup that is a clear sign that respect and or communication is missing (in most cases it is tragically both!).

Playing backwards helps draw the dog in to your space and it makes it look (physically) like you are the leader.  This is good.  Ask yourself would the mother or father dog have to use high pitched talking to call their pups to their space?  Would the parent dogs have to use a treat to bribe their young to come to them?  Or…would they use reverse psychology and naturally move away from their pups causing the pups to respond by following?  Life can be better than most people believe living with a dog.  Sadly, the majority don’t even know what they are missing.

We’ve gone over some of the spatial parts of play and that’s important but I’m going to continue this article for ya and get another one out probably within a couple weeks.  In that Part 2 we will look at how to touch while playing and when to call a foul or throw a flag as we explore dun-Dun-DUHHHHH…the intricate language of play in the domesticated dog!

To Be Continued…

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