Ah, the holidays. They bring so many fun things, including an endless array of holiday TV shows. One of our favorite films is Rudolph the Rednosed Reindeer. I mean, what child could forget The Island of Misfit Toys?? Our beloved Luna has certainly rescued most of those toys as they have found their way to our house!
According to PAWS, “Many behavior problems in dogs are the result of boredom or excess energy. Toys offer mental and physical stimulation and enrichment. Directing your dog’s energy into play with toys can prevent or help resolve such problems as digging and chewing on furniture, shoes or shrubbery.” Dog psychologists take note – Luna the Cockapoo is 4 for 4 with these problems — she’s done them all.
Chris the Trainer tells us that a favorite toy can also be incorporated into training to get a dog’s attention. Many shopping excursions later…we’re on it! First off, dogs (well at least Luna) live to chase. We started with an Interactive Toy: the traditional tennis ball, but having found Bark Box, we (and our money) have moved on to monthly themed squeakers. Strange characters (two bats named Frank and Dean), an evil pumpkin and a replica of french fries (“fetch fries”) in a cardboard basket. I’m guessing next month will bring a stuffed squeaking turkey and possibly a large turkey leg (Can’t wait to see what “The Box” will do for Monsieur Stuffing or Grandma Gravy!!)
And then there are so-called Distraction Toys that make it possible to cook dinner while Luna is racing around the kitchen. These include her Bullies (“pizzle,” aka bull privates) and pig ears.
Dogs are said to love cognitive toys. The thinking process can be just as tiring as a romp, as we’ve witnessed after many sessions with Chris the Trainer. We haven’t invested any of these but could sacrifice a dictionary for Luna to chew on — does that count?
Squeaky toys are a distraction. The squeak mimics the sound of prey dying, so a squeaky toy inspires a dog’s instinct to hunt. I could see Luna retreiving a downed foul, only to run around the yard playing keep-away-from-the-human.
And lastly, there are Comfort Toys, which may or may not include my hand for chewing or leg for humping. These include plush toys, which also can be connected with the hunting instinct, or in Luna’s case, the sleeping instinct – she usually sleeps on three or four.
Of course, Luna has a hybrid toy: George the Old Man Bishon, who both squeaks and is plush. The way Luna stalks and then attacks George is far closer to the hunt than picking up her polyester bunny replica. George requies no batteries, no hand to initiate the squeek and even moves on his own vs. being thrown, making the hunt that much more satisfying. Mom’s slippers are also plush, and, while not a normal toy, Luna takes great delight grabbing one and playing keep-away-from-the human around the kitchen island.
And lest we forget: every toy deserves a Toy Box. Luna’s is a plastic tub about as tall as Luna’s shoulders, making it tough for the unloved babe to get to anything but a top-layer toy. This will soon be replaced by a small dumpster, if our orders from Bark Box continue.
Please be on the look out for a plush replica of Aaron Rogers: Luna will get a thrill chewing on her favorite football player during games. Even better (for her, not us!) if it smells like Aaron after a game.