Dog-Proof: Good And Bad Toys For Your Pooch

ByABC News via logo
April 18, 2002, 6:32 PM

April 19 -- Children's toys always come with warning and age labels, but dog owners should also be just as careful about the playthings they buy for their pets.

Veterinarian Marty Becker appeared on Good Morning America with some tips for dog owners purchasing toys for their animals. With dogs, size matters when it comes to toys.

"The important thing is the size of the dog, not the age, unlike when you're buying a toy for a child," Becker said. "The size and aggression of the dog will help you determine what to get."

The common thinking is the smaller the dog, the smaller the toy, and that big dogs like big toys. But pet owners should bear in mind that dogs are like children in that they have oral fixations, and everything goes in their mouths, Becker said. Labradors and sheep dogs, especially, have chewing fixations.

Kong toys ( are a good example of a pet toy that comes in different sizes. The larger toys are good for big dogs, because they are more difficult to chew.

Good Chewing Vs. Bad Chewing

There is no getting around having your pets chew on stuff, but you can guide them toward constructive chewing, Becker said.

"Our job is not to get them to stop chewing, but to stop the destructive chewing, on furniture and shoes," Becker said. "You want to find a good toy and praise them when they chew that."

To even make their toys even more attractive, try marinating them in bouillon, spreading peanut butter on them, or freezing them with Kool-Aid inside, he suggested.

When it comes to dog collars, be careful about choosing them, because some of them can choke your dog, Becker said. Choke collars which were once popular among pet owners can literally choke your dog.

"They put direct pressure on the wind pipe and can crush it," Becker said. "They are torture for dogs."

Head collars, which are also called gentle leaders, are a good choice for dogs. They mimic the way the mother dog carries and disciplines her puppy. The mother carries the puppy by the back of the neck and disciplines it by biting down on the nose. The collar has a ring under the lower jaw, so that the pressure points focus on the back of the neck and the top of the muzzle, Becker said.