Can My Dogs Have Too Many Toys?

Make your dogs work for their food. These days, dogs are “born retired,” and the easy life takes a toll. They’re bored, unfit and, too often, fat. All these things can lead to behavior and health problems, which is why I’ve long been an advocate of throwing away the bowls and feeding dogs from food puzzles. These toys can be simple and relatively inexpensive, like the type that makes your dog roll or nose the item to get it to dispense kibble. Or they can be more complicated brainteasers that really push your pooch to use his noodle. I like to give my dogs a variety of options; in our family, the dogs eat their meals from food puzzles, and we pull out the brainteasers for fun.

Strengthen the bond you share with your dogs. You may think it’s just a game of fetch, but when you throw a ball for your dog to retrieve, it’s so much more. You’re giving him the heart-thumping daily exercise he needs (and that too many dogs don’t get). But when he returns what you throw and gives it back, he’s working as your partner in a game that builds your bond. You can start there and build on this foundation, teaching him to sit before you throw, stay before you throw, sit when he comes back. The possibilities are endless, and they all help your relationship.

See what I mean? If you’re using toys to help keep your dogs happy, healthy and active — and to strengthen your bond — then it’s hard to imagine you could have too many. And no, your dogs didn’t pay me to have that opinion, although I doubt they would disagree!


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