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LMQC’s outdoor blogger, Teri Stickler, celebrates the holidays with her faithful Samoyed, Kaia, and some new friends as they check out what kind of toys Teri should be putting under the tree this season.

By Teri Stickler and her Samoyed, Kaia

Christmas time and the holiday season might be the kids’ favorite time of the year, but don’t count out our canine friends for cool gifts.  The frosty air, the smell of pine needles, the aroma of freshly baked yummies, and of course, presents!

Happy “Paw-li-days”!

Yes, all kinds of presents, right at floor level and pushed tight under a new and interesting tree brought into the house!  Kaia knows this season only too well, as do a couple of her good friends and fellow explorers.  Each package is so nicely wrapped, with cute gift tags attached to each, but who needs to know how to read a gift tag? Certainly not Kaia or her friends.  Not when just following their noses takes them right up to each present wrapped just for them. 

If your house is anything like ours, then most likely your dog’s receive more presents than anyone else in the house. Right? Then comes the next question. What makes a good present?  What exactly did your dog tell Santa to bring them for Christmas? 

Add these doggy essentials to your “Must Buy” list this season …

Kaia likes the original Kong. These come in puppy, original, and XL sizes.  Kaia has two Kongs – and here is one reason why:  Being hollow inside, this toy can be filled with treats, peanut butter, yogurt, and the like and thus make a wonderful challenge for Kaia to try to eat the contents.

When filled with yogurt, I put them in the freezer, so it will be readily available when needed.   (Caution: If using peanut butter, make certain it does NOT contain the artificial sweetener, Xylitol.  This is dangerous to dogs.) 

Another type of toy we can never do without is classified as an enrichment toy. These come in many configurations. Generally speaking, they are constructed in a way that one can put kibble or the like inside, and it is up to the dog to figure out how to slide, flip, roll or shake open the slots so as to be able to access the kibble. 

These toys will also be entertaining for you as you watch your dog use their brain to figure out the best way to access the food.  You’ll see your dog become more clever as they work their way through the mental puzzle. 

If your dog needs to work off some extra energy, then Kaia suggests balls!

Once again, Kong makes balls that look like yellow tennis balls but come in small, medium, large and XL sizes.  Kaia likes these because they are soft and squeak when she squeezes them.  She loves to have someone throw them, and she will retrieve…usually.  She also loves trying to fit several in her mouth at one time and carries them around. 

Hartz makes a nice soft latex ball called the DuraPlay ball. We’ve found them in three sizes.  These are easy for the dog to squeak and hold up well. 

Of course, there are always plain ole tennis balls.  A dog can never have too many tennis balls!  Just do not leave the tennis balls unattended, as some dogs will want to try to chew off the outer layer or break the ball apart and could swallow the rubber pieces. 

Another fun toy is the “Chuck-it.” The Chuck-it comes with a handle designed at one end to accept the Chuck-it balls. This design makes it easy for one to sling the ball a long distance making it fun for the dog to try to catch or run after. If there are two or more dogs in the game, even more fun to see who can get the ball first and, hopefully, bring it back to their human friend, to throw it again, and again, and again, and again.

A combination toy that is both an enrichment toy and plush/squeaky is the “Outward Hound Hide a Squirrel,” (or bird, llama, monkey, bee, hedgehog, raccoon, or any number of creatures). Kaia’s good friend, Gus, totally loves these.  The toy consists of a plush trash can, barn, tree trunk, or building that houses small squeaky items. 

For instance, it could be a trash can with several holes and 4-5 small squeaky raccoons hidden inside.  Or maybe a barn with a llama inside, a building with donuts inside.  By placing a small piece of kibble in the bottom of the trash can, Gus anxiously sticks his nose in and pulls out each little creature, gives it a good squeak, then continues working until each raccoon has been removed from its hiding place and the kibble treasure has been found. 

The whole process makes Gus think about how to get all the little creatures out of the holes. He gets the satisfaction of hearing them squeak, completely emptying the trash can, and reaching his reward.  Job well done!    (Caution #2.  If someone in the home wears hearing aids, they most likely will not be a big fan of squeaky toys!  Just sayin’.)

One more fun gift might be the NEECONG dog snuffle-mat slow-feeder bowl. This grass-like mat can hide small toys, kibble, or treats, making a fun scavenger hunt for the pup to seek and find the prize.  Each ‘find’ is a reward. 

The mat can lay flat or be fashioned into a bowl shape. 

If you have more than one dog and they like to play tug of war with one another, then there’s nothing as fun as a heavy rope toy with a knot or two in it. Kaia and Gus never tire of getting ahold of one of these rope toys and running away as the others chase. 

When they eventually catch up with one another, it’s a tug of war to see who ends up with the rope, at which point the winner takes off running and being chased once again.  One of the positive aspects of these rope toys is the fact that the two dogs grab and hang onto the rope and, ergo, do not try to grab onto each other as they play their game of chase. 

They even learn the word “rope” or “toy” and learn to reach for the rope when getting a new hold and not pulling each other’s fur, thus making for a fun and safer way for them to play together.  This technique, however, is not necessarily learned automatically.  Dog owners need to be there to instruct and teach what is acceptable and what is not.

Not unlike us, our dogs love to get presents.  Their Christmas gifts don’t need to be expensive, though some can be.  But even the inexpensive toys are worth the joy and entertainment, even if they only last the evening and need to be relegated to the needle and thread or placed in the wastebasket after all the fun has ceased.

Of course, all these suggestions only begin to scratch the surface of what is available for dog toys. Then again, Kaia and Gus have proven this over and over, one can buy tons of toys, all colors, shapes, and sizes, and they’ll still choose to find a stick to play with.

Check out Teri and Kaia’s pictures from their holiday expedition …

 

By Teri Stickler and her Samoyed, Kaia

Christmas time and the holiday season might be the kids’ favorite time of the year, but don’t count out our canine friends for cool gifts.  The frosty air, the smell of pine needles, the aroma of freshly baked yummies, and of course, presents!

Happy “Paw-li-days”!

Yes, all kinds of presents, right at floor level and pushed tight under a new and interesting tree brought into the house!  Kaia knows this season only too well, as do a couple of her good friends and fellow explorers.  Each package is so nicely wrapped, with cute gift tags attached to each, but who needs to know how to read a gift tag? Certainly not Kaia or her friends.  Not when just following their noses takes them right up to each present wrapped just for them.

If your house is anything like ours, then most likely your dog’s receive more presents than anyone else in the house. Right? Then comes the next question. What makes a good present?  What exactly did your dog tell Santa to bring them for Christmas?

Add these doggy essentials to your “Must Buy” list this season …

Kaia likes the original Kong. These come in puppy, original, and XL sizes.  Kaia has two Kongs – and here is one reason why:  Being hollow inside, this toy can be filled with treats, peanut butter, yogurt, and the like and thus make a wonderful challenge for Kaia to try to eat the contents.

When filled with yogurt, I put them in the freezer, so it will be readily available when needed.   (Caution: If using peanut butter, make certain it does NOT contain the artificial sweetener, Xylitol.  This is dangerous to dogs.)

Another type of toy we can never do without is classified as an enrichment toy. These come in many configurations. Generally speaking, they are constructed in a way that one can put kibble or the like inside, and it is up to the dog to figure out how to slide, flip, roll or shake open the slots so as to be able to access the kibble.

These toys will also be entertaining for you as you watch your dog use their brain to figure out the best way to access the food.  You’ll see your dog become more clever as they work their way through the mental puzzle.

If your dog needs to work off some extra energy, then Kaia suggests balls!

Once again, Kong makes balls that look like yellow tennis balls but come in small, medium, large and XL sizes.  Kaia likes these because they are soft and squeak when she squeezes them.  She loves to have someone throw them, and she will retrieve…usually.  She also loves trying to fit several in her mouth at one time and carries them around.

Hartz makes a nice soft latex ball called the DuraPlay ball. We’ve found them in three sizes.  These are easy for the dog to squeak and hold up well.

Of course, there are always plain ole tennis balls.  A dog can never have too many tennis balls!  Just do not leave the tennis balls unattended, as some dogs will want to try to chew off the outer layer or break the ball apart and could swallow the rubber pieces.

Another fun toy is the “Chuck-it.” The Chuck-it comes with a handle designed at one end to accept the Chuck-it balls. This design makes it easy for one to sling the ball a long distance making it fun for the dog to try to catch or run after. If there are two or more dogs in the game, even more fun to see who can get the ball first and, hopefully, bring it back to their human friend, to throw it again, and again, and again, and again.

A combination toy that is both an enrichment toy and plush/squeaky is the “Outward Hound Hide a Squirrel,” (or bird, llama, monkey, bee, hedgehog, raccoon, or any number of creatures). Kaia’s good friend, Gus, totally loves these.  The toy consists of a plush trash can, barn, tree trunk, or building that houses small squeaky items.

For instance, it could be a trash can with several holes and 4-5 small squeaky raccoons hidden inside.  Or maybe a barn with a llama inside, a building with donuts inside.  By placing a small piece of kibble in the bottom of the trash can, Gus anxiously sticks his nose in and pulls out each little creature, gives it a good squeak, then continues working until each raccoon has been removed from its hiding place and the kibble treasure has been found.

The whole process makes Gus think about how to get all the little creatures out of the holes. He gets the satisfaction of hearing them squeak, completely emptying the trash can, and reaching his reward.  Job well done!    (Caution #2.  If someone in the home wears hearing aids, they most likely will not be a big fan of squeaky toys!  Just sayin’.)

One more fun gift might be the NEECONG dog snuffle-mat slow-feeder bowl. This grass-like mat can hide small toys, kibble, or treats, making a fun scavenger hunt for the pup to seek and find the prize.  Each ‘find’ is a reward.

The mat can lay flat or be fashioned into a bowl shape.

If you have more than one dog and they like to play tug of war with one another, then there’s nothing as fun as a heavy rope toy with a knot or two in it. Kaia and Gus never tire of getting ahold of one of these rope toys and running away as the others chase.

When they eventually catch up with one another, it’s a tug of war to see who ends up with the rope, at which point the winner takes off running and being chased once again.  One of the positive aspects of these rope toys is the fact that the two dogs grab and hang onto the rope and, ergo, do not try to grab onto each other as they play their game of chase.

They even learn the word “rope” or “toy” and learn to reach for the rope when getting a new hold and not pulling each other’s fur, thus making for a fun and safer way for them to play together.  This technique, however, is not necessarily learned automatically.  Dog owners need to be there to instruct and teach what is acceptable and what is not.

Not unlike us, our dogs love to get presents.  Their Christmas gifts don’t need to be expensive, though some can be.  But even the inexpensive toys are worth the joy and entertainment, even if they only last the evening and need to be relegated to the needle and thread or placed in the wastebasket after all the fun has ceased.

Of course, all these suggestions only begin to scratch the surface of what is available for dog toys. Then again, Kaia and Gus have proven this over and over, one can buy tons of toys, all colors, shapes, and sizes, and they’ll still choose to find a stick to play with.

Check out Teri and Kaia’s pictures from their holiday expedition …

 

Teri Stickler

Teri Stickler

Outdoor Blogger and Co-Adventurer

Meet Teri Stickler. Teri is a retired Quad-City teacher. She thoroughly enjoys the out-of-doors, sharing most of her adventures with her Samoyed companion, Kaia.