Bobby’s top 3 favorite toys
When we got Bobby he wasn´t playful at all. I bought quite a selection of different toys but nothing really aroused his interest. I have read that lots of stray dogs don´t know how to play with the toys we buy them because they never have learned how to use them. In general dogs love to play with toys. They help to fight boredom but also are valuable for their interaction with us humans. So I decided to keep trying and after a couple of months Bobby´s interest in toys grow. Of all the toys I bought these are his most favorite toys:
Number 1: Squeaky rubber toys
His first ever toy he liked was a rubber turkey. You know, the ugliest toy you can find in any pet shop. He got crazy about it and I had to keep an eye on his playtime because he got REALLY agitated. Due to his excitement the turkeys never lasted longer than 5 minutes and I constantly had to check whether he had bitten a hole in it. A less squeaky, less ugly but tougher toy is this watermelon from the brand Rosewood. He loves the toy and when being thrown it bounces all over the place, making it more challenging to catch it.
Although these where his favorite toys I stopped buying them because I questioned the safety of the rubber material. Is it safe for a dog to chew, lick and bite toys that contain chemicals in them? I don;t think so.
Number 2: Snuffle Mat
Looking for a new toy to introduce to Bobby I came across snuffle mats. Snuffle mats are excellent for dogs that love to use their nose. You hide some treats/food in them and let your dog searching for them. Bobby loves this toy and it is an easy way to keep him busy. You can buy them online but I preferred to make one myself. All you need is a rubber mat (anti-fatigue mat or a rubber sink mat), lots of fleece (I used fleece blankets) and scissors. I bought a round rubber sink mat but it is up to you which size and shape you want. The bigger the rubber mat the more fleece you will need and the longer your dog will be occupied with finding the treats/food.
To make the snuffle mat you will need about 2 hours (depending on the size of the rubber mat).
Step 1: Cut the fleece into strips (5cm x 30cm). Depending on the size of the wholes in the mat your strips need to be thicker or thinner. The longer the strips the less volume your mat will have in the end. Keep in mind that the strips don’t need to be perfect!
Step 2: Turn your rubber mat upside down and take a fleece strip. Push one end of the strip though a hole in the mat and take the other end of the strip and push it through a hole next to the previous hole. Flip your mat over and tie the ends of the strip together (one or two knots depending on the firmness of your fleece). Take a second fleece strip and put it through the empty hole next to the previous one. Repeat this process until you have finished one length/row of the mat. If you have filled all holes go back to the beginning and tie fleece strips on the diagonal to give it more volume. Cross strip for a second time if possible (making an ‘x’).
There are lots of video’s on how to make a snuffle mat so have a look on the internet for a more visual explanation. It really is very easy and cheap way to make and your dog will love it!!!
When using the mat hide treats by pushing them down in between the knots or fleece strips so your dog really has to work in order to find them.
Monitor your dog when he is using the mat and put it away when your dog has found all the treats. Very eager dogs can end up eating the fleece due to the smell of the treats. Once in a while I will put the snuffle mat in the washing machine to keep it clean.
Some dogs might need some time to figure out how to use the snuffle mat. Hide the treats in the mat in front of his eyes and give him the command to search for it. Very soon your dog will understand and you can than hide the treats in secret to make it more difficult.
Number 3: Ropes
Quite surprisingly Bobby started to like chewing on ropes. He sometimes grabs a rope in secret and comes to me with his happy face asking me to play with him. The funny thing is that he only is interested in the rope as long as I am playing with him. The moment I leave he looses the interest in it. Because of his bad teeth I have to keep an eye on him when playing and I have to buy ropes that are quite soft but except for that ropes make a great toy. Natural, safe ropes are not bleached with chlorine, made of non-synthetic materials and free of dyes. The only thing I am not so sure about is how to keep them clean. In the future I would love to make some ropes myself.