Gone are the days when the pet dog was left outside and hardly acknowledged. Nowadays our pets are well and truly a member of the family, and we enjoy treating them as such. This is definitely true for Em and I who have both owned dogs for as long as we can remember.
I have three beautiful boys; a German Shepherd and two Kelpie Crosses. They are not little lap dogs by any means, although they think they are sometimes. Em has a small one-year-old terrier x who is a lap dog. Both Em and I let our boys sleep inside at night, and they all have plenty of toys to play with both inside and out. But I’ve found keeping 3 large dogs entertained and stimulated can be tricky sometimes.
Just like children, dogs have different personalities and different interests. I’ve learned over the years that dogs need a lot of simulation, you can’t just leave them in the backyard and think they’ll be fine. If you do, you’ll probably come home to pot holes all over the lawn, the plants ripped out and some very unhappy neighbours who have had to listen to barking all day.
So here are a few ideas I use at home to keep my big fur-babies entertained and happy throughout the day, without spending a lot of money.
One: Stuffed Toys
Dogs of all ages love stuffed toys, especially shredding and de-stuffing them. This is natural behaviour for dogs. Your dog will learn very quickly that they can do what they like with their own toys and be less inclined to nibble on something else. So, I let my boys shred their toys to their heart’s content, and they enjoy themselves immensely.
I get mine from my nieces and nephews when they are decluttering their toys. This is a great way to recycle and re-purpose (just a quick tip – avoid the toys that are stuffed with beans as these aren’t good for your dogs). Every now and then I swap some toys around to keep them interested, and relegate any seriously munched teddies to outside.
If you’re buying a stuffed toy, the $2-$7 ones from Kmart and the cheapie stores are just fine. I’ve spoken to people who have bought $20-30 stuffed toys from the pet store, and they don’t seem to last any longer. So, if your dog is going to shred their toys, save yourself a tonne of pennies and buy the cheaper ones.
This one can be used all year round, but it’s especially great in summer. All you need is a few containers, like an empty icecream tub or takeaway container. Fill with water or stock, and add in a few of your dog’s favourite treats, then place it in the freezer. Once it’s frozen, pop the iceblock out of the container and let them go nuts. They’ll be licking for hours.
Dogs love playing with a rope and my Kelpie and Shepherd are no different. The boys love to play tug-of-war together, but my Kelpie is just as happy playing rope by himself, he just throws it up in the air and catches it.
You can of course buy a dog rope, but you can make one yourself using old towels or sheets you may have in the linen cupboard. Just cut them into strips (the longer you go the bigger the rope), knot them together at the top, plait the lengths then knot the bottom. Super easy, and something the kids can help make.
This is also a great way to make a ball as well. Once you’ve finished plaiting, tie the ends together to make a circle and continue doing this and intertwining them until a ball is made.
The Kong has to be one of the best toys on the market. It is the only toy I spend a lot of money on, but they last forever so it’s a one-off purchase. Kong’s come in different sizes so buy one that suits the size of your dog. My Shepherd has a large Kong and it withstands him chewing on it, but you can also get super-small ones for puppies.
I like to fill the Kong with treats and then plug the hole with peanut butter. I know it won’t last long as my boys love peanut butter, but it will keep them entertained for a good half an hour or so. If you want yours to last longer, try adding some water to the Kong and place in the freezer. The treats will freeze in the ice and your dog will spend hours trying to lick the treats out.
Five: Treat Ball
If you have a small dog, a simple treat ball can do the trick as well. My (not so small) Kelpies have a $3 treat ball each that they roll around to get the treats out – hours of entertainment. This toy isn’t suitable for my Shepherd as it would only last one day before being completely destroyed, so he gets the Kong.
I hope your dogs love these toys as much as mine do. If you have any other inexpensive dog toy ideas you’d like to share, please leave a comment below!
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