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How to Choose Toys, Bones, and Treats for Your Puppy

Today’s market is flooded with toys, bones, treats, and gadgets for dogs and puppies. You may be tempted, but don’t buy every toy and bone in the pet store. Puppies, like children, have specific likes and dislikes, and overwhelming your pup with options is disruptive. She’ll grow up thinking everything on the floor is fair game — even your beloved slippers.

Test your puppy’s likes and dislikes by giving her one toy or bone at a time. When you discover one that strikes her fancy, you can then buy multiples. Remember that a new puppy will spend her first few days nosing about and may not be interested in interactive play for two to four weeks.

Puppy toys

Puppies like objects that bounce, squeak, and roll. Toys come in as many different shapes as you’d find in a high-school geometry book, so prepare yourself. Some squeak, others make noise, and many have holes in which you’re encouraged to stuff a creamy spread or kibbles. Choose a couple toys to try out to discover what captures your puppy’s heart, and you’re set.

You can also find stuffed toys at the pet store. Most of them contain squeaks meant to simulate the sound of prey animals, and many puppies love to toss and play with these. However, some dogs insist on ripping them limb from limb to dismember the object until the squeaker is removed. This kind of toy isn’t ideal for those pups because they’ll end up in shreds, so for the time being, search for toys with the word indestructible on the packaging.

Bones for your puppy

When picking out bones for your puppy, generally you can’t go wrong with indestructible plastic, but the problem is that most puppies find them, well, boring. Rawhide is accepted by the masses, but it’s problematic with some dogs who chew obsessively because they gulp it as they go and can choke or get indigestion.

You may want to try pressed rawhide, animal-part sticks, and vegetable-matter pulp bones. Test out a few kinds yourself to find a bone that satisfies your puppy’s craving and that can pass the “systems” test (her digestive system, that is); then buy it in bulk!

Puppy treats

Food rewards are a wonderful way to get your puppy’s attention and encourage her focus, making a positive association to learning. Find a treat that gets your puppy excited: If your puppy is gaga for her kibble, use it to reward her, borrowing against portions of her meal.

If she’s not motivated by kibbles, test out some small or easily broken treats from the pet store. Remember that your enthusiasm, not the size of the treat, is the best reinforcement! Here are two great ways to use food to train and motivate your puppy’s earliest learning.

  • Treat cups: Keeping your puppy’s treats in a specific container helps her connect the sound of the shaking cup with a food reward, which is a valuable training tool. To create a treat cup for your puppy, purchase an inexpensive plastic container, cut a small, round hole in the lid, and fill it halfway with dried kibbles or broken-up dog treats.

  • Snack packs: Purchase a fanny pack that you can stow snacks and poop bags in and take with you when you go outside with your pup. You’ll have the snacks handy for rewarding your puppy for returning to you and for outdoor pottying.

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