The Psychology of Selecting Toys

Puppies have a lot of energy. Well, much more than I have. They play hard and then fall asleep. My foot serves as Charlie’s pillow. This way I am required to stay in place while he naps. Did I say he is so smart?

Charlie is 6 months old. Sometimes I feel like I am getting better at being able to read his mind. Other times, I know that he knows how to manipulate me to his whims. So how do I keep my Charlie amused, tired, and out of trouble? A game of Fetch is a good start. We look for a ball, I throw, he retrieves, and gives it back. Repeat. This works for both the outside and inside. Food is a good motivator and a frozen Kong in his “room” can occupy about 15 minutes, tops. Then … off to look for something to chew.

He just loves to chew, and chew, and chew. Given Charlie’s determination to chew I have to watch him with his toys. He sleeps with his Snuggle Puppy, but the other day he proudly took his puppy out of his room (crate). Then proceeded to shake it wildly. Ok, not a problem. Then he settled down, and quickly eliminated the tail. In short order, I looked and his puppy was tailless and missing an ear. I felt bad taking the toy away, but now I worried if this toy would create a health issue. Carefully watching his behavior, and reading his poop. Yup, my new pup has put me in charge of poop patrol. Given a stuffed toy he picks an appendage and works at it until it just disappears. Swallowed up. I am so nervous that he will hurt himself with his compulsive eviscerating of stuffed toys. Even called my vet, and asked if I should be worried. The advice given was if he eats, plays, and poops without a problem then he is probably ok. The fibers are probably concealed.

So now I am searching for that toy that will satisfy the urge to chew that lasts more than 10 minutes. I look online, read reviews from other pet owners, and visit my local Petco.

I skip past all the cute stuffed chew toys. Even the ones that say “Tuff”. I brought home a toy made from the same material as a fire hose. No problem for Charlie. Then I enter the aisle with hard stuff for chewing. I have one blue dog bone that I had for Libby. She never cared for it. I liked the fact that it was actually made here in the USA. Well, Charlie is not a fan either. I guess that is why it looks perfectly new. No teeth marks. I look at some softer rubber toys in a variety of shapes.

What appeals to a puppy? Does your puppy have a favorite toy?

This looks like a long stick, and the material has some give to it.

As you can see, not destroyed, but not a winner either.

Again, Charlie pretty much ignores it. I looked in the bargain bin. Figuring if it gets destroyed my pocket won’t feel too bad. Here is a squeaky bright green figure of a character doing a yoga pose. I start up a conversation with another pet owner. I tell her that there is another larger “Yoga Hero” in the bin for $4.00, but she says her retriever would attack the foot in a matter of minutes. I can’t tell if it will be too big for Charlie’s mouth but I decide to take a chance. It is a hit with Charlie. He likes to make it squeak. When thrown Yoga bounces randomly. It took a while but the yoga foot has been crippled.

Charlie will search for his Yoga toy on command

Luckily, I found the missing piece, so there will be no ongoing poop search.

Charlie loves food. He perks up when he hears the word Kong. I freeze his kibble and top it off with peanut butter.

Charlie is about to consume his frozen Kong

But the search to find the best chew toy continues. I just have to learn to think like a puppy!

Twenty-Three Minus Seven

Sixteen weeks together with Charlie, my Australian Labradoodle (ALD). My puppy has changed so much in the past 4 months. Hard to believe.

I brought home a seven-pound seven-week-old puppy. I now have a 26 pound twenty-three-week old puppy. Charlie is definitely food motivated. He now gets two meals a day, and plenty of training bits. And by bits, I mean the tiniest crumb of a treat. Some days he enjoys a frozen kibble stuffed Kong in his crate.

It is amazing at how many food-related words he knows. Are you hungry? I get a loud woof! How about a Kong? He goes straight to the freezer. Have some water. Treat. With my Libby, I had a bed close by the dinner table where she would stay while we ate. Tried that, but Charlie put the bed to other uses, and so one bed is gone. So Charlie now lies down under the table near my feet. But there is no begging. My husband would like to see Charlie behave more like the mature dog Libby. Charlie is still in training mode.

After dinner, Charlie wants to help with my dishwashing. It was hard for a while, but since I use the “Place” command, he does a down-stay on his mat and watches me fill the dishwasher. I just don’t want Charlie to get into some food that may be bad for his digestion. Jo started my puppy with Life’s Abundance for small/medium puppies. No digestive issues, no scratching, no problems. So why change? Delivery is simple. An email reminds me of an upcoming order. Changes to the order is easy. I have also used some of their treats, and training treats. All meet with Charlie’s approval.

We finished five weeks of a six-week training class. Baxter and Bella Online Training. Amy provides lifetime live training sessions that are also recorded so I can watch again. After class, an email arrives with homework for the week. Each day I emphasize a different command. Today, the command is “Wait” and “Go to your room” (crate). There is a FB group for member support about anything dog related. Interesting to hear from other pet owners going through the same experience. I have not used the “one on one” video chat with Amy yet, but I know it is there if I need it. Games, podcasts, videos, and written charts/instructions are always available.

Life is ruff, for my boy!

I see such growth in his learning. I know he understands all of the commands. And last week he was put to the test. My daughter left her teacup Pomeranian Max at my house while Charlie and I were out. This afternoon, Charlie was barking. I told him shhh, and down. And he did it with no treats around. There is 1 more lesson to complete the Puppy Class. He has learned – Sit, Down, Leave It, Come, Touch, Wait, and Loose leash walking. Now we practice in a variety of places, with distractions, distance, and duration. Progress is being made. My husband remembers my well trained 9 year-old Lab and still wonders if Charlie will ever get there. Adding bells to my back door, and potty training is on the done side! I have become Charlie’s doorman as my sister-in-law kindly pointed out to me. Though today I learned that if I am busy elsewhere I will hear the bells being frantically rung. Smart guy! Who is training whom?

I caught Charlie chewing on something, and went to investigate. He had lost a molar and was chewing on it. Yes, his adult teeth are replacing the shark teeth. Three canines out, one sharp canine still to go. Our arms are now healing.

Charlie has soft, fluffy hair that started to hide his beautiful eyes.

Charlie before his haircut.

He experienced his first puppy cut, and he and I survived. It was hard to have Charlie away from me and with someone he never met for an hour.

I can see again! Notice his ear is flipped over. It’s cooler this way!

I haven’t decided on a permanent groomer. With CoVid19 it is hard to meet anyone face to face. And smart as Charlie is he can’t talk. So I depend more on recommendations and reviews. My neighbor acts as a “grandparent” to a golden doodle in the neighborhood so I asked where Buster got his haircut. Buster is a standard golden doodle with very curly poodle-type wool hair with hair shaved way short for the summer. Not a match for Charlie who has long, fleece-like hair. But the groomer also had good reviews on Yelp. One price, one hour, one dog at a time, and no cages got me to make the appointment. I brought a paper with my instructions, and photo to the appointment. He looked at it briefly and handed it back to me. The groomer is close so I left Charlie and went home. Returned in one hour and the puppy cut was done. So what is the hesitation to return? My instruction sheet was given a cursory glance. I said not to cut Charlie’s eyelashes, and they were cut. I know, they grow back. His sanitary trim was only so so. I was given a discount since this was only a puppy cut and only facial hair was cut. So I will continue to ask around for Labradoodle groomer recommendations.

So my life has gone to the dogs! Well, actually only my one and only Charlie.

Charlie: Toy Destroyer!

Photograph of my Charlie and me taken by my BFF Anne! Thanks!

Sometime between week 5 and week 7 Charlie’s little shark teeth became remarkably determines to chew, chew, chew. One by one his toys became the victim. And one by one I had to remove them from his repertoire to playthings. At first I could amputate the destroyed parts. Then the patient reached the point of no coming back from the destruction. The toy now became dangerous.

First off was ” Kong Elephant”. Unlike his alligator friend, Elephant was called ultra. So the tusks were gone in a couple of minutes. Next, the ears were targeted, and eventually removed.

Now the seams are targeted for elimination. So sorry “ultra” elephant.

Wubba Puppy suffered a tear around the head, and Wubba Bear Friend lost a tentacle. There still was some life left in each toy, but I kept a careful watch for distress.

Well loved in its own way.

Goat lost various parts, but still is holding on. Squeaky Duck lost some stuffing, but still can be used to retrieve. A stuffed unicorn rope thing was thoroughly loved, and marked the end to stuffed toys.

Charlie’s persistent chewing on Unicorn and Bear Wubba cause their demise

So on to tougher toys. Charlie still enjoys small classic red Kong stuffed with kibble and peanut butter. Recently I purchased a Kong puppy tire made of rubber. This one is stuffable as well. Charlie likes chewing on it.

For my first Mother’s Day, Charlie got me this tee shirt. Well, he is a little young to use a credit card so he told me this is the one to get.

Charlie is quite the “Foodie”. Makes it easier to train. Charlie says, “Will do anything for food, just as long as you make it clear what I need to do!”

I guess that is always the case. It is best to be able to communicate what it is you need honestly and clearly.

Take care. Stay Safe. And wear a MASK!

Be careful not to bite the hand that feeds you!

This is never truer than when you are home with a 10-week old puppy. Charlie has little, tiny shark teeth. When he is awake his mouth is always busy. Being a multi-gen Australian Labradoodle Charlie takes after the Lab side and is always up for eating! But as his owner, I am not going to be lunch.

Right away I knew that I did not have enough toys to keep Charlie busy. I went online and ordered some toys to fetch and some chew toys. I didn’t remember my last dog playing with many toys. I know there were many destroyed toys. I also forgot how small puppy mouths are. I think I did pretty well with my picks. So if you are adding a puppy these are my suggestions.

Kong Squeak Air balls size x small. They come 3 to a pack. I use two at a time. Throw one. Ready, set, go! And when Charlie retrieves one, I throw the other one. Endless energy released!

JW Hol-EE ball is a great toy for inside fetch. Quiet, and easy for a puppy to grab. It can also be used as a tug toy, or food dispenser when the treats are larger. This ball comes in a variety of sizes, and is easy to catch.

Kong Wubba – Puppy version has proved to be a keeper. Good to chew on, toss, and tug.

Kong Classic Puppy version. Made in USA! Can be stuffed. It’s chewable. When tossed it randomly bounces. Did I say it is made in the USA!

Kong Squeezz Dumbbell is easy to chew, bounces and squeaks. Fun.

Nylabone teething puppy chew. Again made in the USA. Chicken flavor and gentle chewing style. This one lasted about 3 weeks, and then Charlie began making headway and pieces came off.

Nylabone Puppy Teething Pacifier Flexible Chew toy has kept up with Charlie’s chewing abilities. Nice different textures.

Kong Cozies Alligator Toy has a squeaker, and Charlie finds different parts to chew. I am also looking at some of the Kong plush with knots for stuffing. So far his tiny shark teeth have not penetrated the alligator.

Charlie with his Alligator and Teething Ring Pacifier/Bone

Libby loved the Jolly Egg toys. She could amuse herself and tire herself out with these toys. Hard plastic ball or Egg-shaped that she would knock around with her paws. The irregular shape caused the egg to spin around randomly. Charlie is just frustrated with this and barks at the toy while trying to grab it with his mouth. Maybe later he will appreciate it.

At least this Jolly Toy could be grabbed by Charlie.

Serenity Springs sent Charlie home with some toys, blanket, and bed with littermates scent on them. His Snuggle Puppy has a heartbeat, and a warm pack. This is in his crate with him at night. I can’t tell if he feels safe with his Snuggle Puppy or because his crate is next to my bed. Probably, the later. This puppy crate is smaller, plastic and he took to it instantly. For the last two nights Charlie has led me into the bedroom when it was time to go to sleep!

Charlie is getting more charming by the day!

Don’t bite the hand that feeds you can have more than this literal meaning. Right? But not to an 11 week old pup! Lucky he is so cute!