Thank you to S. Farrell for inspiring this new post. This is a common issue in
puppy classes & more, so it is a perfect issue to address.
"Any comments about good ( durable ) toys for a dog that loves to chew? We have a new 8 month old golden retriever (from the shelter) and we need to re-direct his chewing energies"
For Chewing issues the first thing I always recommend is a Kong, depending on how destructive his chewing is you may have to get a size larger than would otherwise be recommended. In addition to size, they do offer different "strengths" of rubber, i.e. the black Kongs are the strongest. Kongs are great because you can stuff them with virtually anything! They sell specific Kong Stuff-ins but their website also contains recipes submitted from other users. Whatever you choose to put in it, a great idea is to freeze it, this will not only make it last longer, but the cold will also soothe sore teeth and gums.
Being a golden retriever, I'm guessing he also likes to fetch/play with balls. Kong actually makes solid rubber balls which I have been getting for Rico for years. Well actually I've only have to buy 4 total in probably 4 years. The first one he lost at camp, the 2nd one he actually was able to wear down but it took well over a year before I decided to toss it, and 3 and 4 (one of each size, medium and large) are still 100% in tact and are probably at least 2 years old. The pricing is extremely comparable when you look at how many standard tennis balls it has saved (he does still get those too!)
Nylabones are also a great alternative. Note: some people prefer not to use them, as they are made of a manmade nylon material that isn't meant to be consumed. My personal opinion is that I use them with my own dogs. When MoMo was a puppy she had no interest in Nylabones, so I just disregarded them until a few years ago when I decided to try again. I realized that the original flavor in Nylabones is Ham, so I decided to try other flavors for them. The dogs immediately loved the Bacon flavor, and I've also tried Liver with success. However Bacon is the first flavor I recommend.
I also recommend Paragon Veggie dog chews, they are sold at Mare-Z-Doats. They have several different shapes and sizes to best fit puppies needs. They are 100% edible and great for keeping teeth clean.
(Look for pictures to be added for all of these products. Will add more ideas, as I know they will come to me as soon as I sign off, lol)
I've talked about other products I love, but we've found a new one, (if I haven't said so before, I'm not getting paid or any kind of endorsement for promoting products, just sharing my unbiased opinion). Our local pet store had their semi annual customer appreciation sale a few weekends ago, so we figured there wasn't a better time to try out a new toy that we wouldn't usually want to spent money on, (I'm sure most dog owners know how difficult it can be toy to spend money on something your dog either may not like, or will destroy in 3 minutes) this time I was looking at the array of ChuckIt! dog toys. Rico is a big time swimmer in summer so I'm always up for something that floats and tosses well. I've been eyeing the flying squirrel for a while, but upon more inspection and comparison to the other toys, I realized the material on the body is strong but thin, and Rico would poke holes in it whether it was intentional or not. I was bored with the ChuckIt! balls, although we recently purchased the short distance ball which is pretty cool. Rico likes to catch frisbees but he always either cuts his gums on the sharp plastic or bites his tongue, both ways causing pretty severe mouth bleeding. I noticed ChuckIt! had different size frisbees which were rubbery material and fabric. I reluctantly decided to try it (the last floating toss toy, won't mention the name... he wanted to chew more than he wanted to fetch it, and while we don't know his breed, he loves to retrieve) and I'm so happy we did. He has had no bleeding incidences, no strong desire to shred it (we don't leave him unattended with it either way) and he gets excited when we grab it to play. I'm sharing a couple of pictures of him on memorial day at the dog beach enjoying his new toy. (Note: he is on a leash, it is approx. 20 feet long, we do not condone or practice off leash with our dogs in public places)
I learned about the use of headcollars while I was studying my program, I was intrigued by the idea of the product and had to run out and get some to try. I brought both of my dogs with to fit them with the headcollars at Mare-Z-Doats. We were immediately greeted by a gentleman who helped us figure out the right size for our different sized dogs, and he showed us how the headcollars should fit. It was very helpful because when you first look at the construction of the headcollar it can be a little bit like 'what goes where?' We only had the dogs wear them for a short off leash time the first few wears as it is definitely a strange feeling for the dogs at first, especially if they are adults. You can expect to see a goofy reaction the first few times you put a headcollar on your dog, similar to a wet dog who rubs his face all over the floor. (This is an extremely normal reaction as you can imagine it would be if you started to wear a tight mask on your face or unusually heavy makeup.) If you start your gentle leader training with a puppy this will be a much less dramatic process for your dog. It is the same process as getting a puppy used to wearing any sort of collar, and eventually they will accept it and you will reap great rewards.
My dogs have been using their gentle leaders for 2 years now. Rico still does not enjoy having his gentle leader on when he's stationary (for the 2 minutes he has it on before our walk starts) but he also gets excited to see that I'm grabbing it because he knows it means "WALK" and he starts jumping with anticipation. As for Momo she is now 100% accepting of it.
Let me now take a moment to explain why I love this product so much. Dogs are not perfect. While extensive training can give you a dog who starts walking when you do, walks by your side, and stops/sits along side you, the gentle leader gives you the extra help you may need to control your dog before you may reach that point. Not only does it give you control over a large strong dog who pulls, it also gives you the ability to control your dog's mouth (only if you should need you). The gentle leader is commonly confused with a muzzle which it is far from. Your dog should have complete use of it's mouth, be able to open wide, drink water, fetch a ball, and pant. But should you need to close your dogs mouth to avoid it barking at a stranger or trying to fight another dog you will have complete control. The mechanism of the gentle leader is a sliding loop around the snout and additional collar around their high neck with one single attachment, if the snout loop should come off the leash shall still remain attached to the collar and your dog can not slip the whole collar (as long as it's fitted properly). To understand how the gentle leader helps prevent pulling vs. a chain collar understand this; a dog holds a lot of strength in it's neck and if your dog really wants to move forward with a collar around its neck whether it's tightening or not, it will move. If you have control of your dogs head it will swivel on it's neck giving you the control.
Even though my dogs are not very large, they USED to pull ahead of us. Now I walk with Rico on a 1ft training tab and I hold it loosley with my index finger. He stays right with me, and if he tries to stray from my lead the gentle leader directs his head back to me. Rico also suffers from fear aggression of strange dogs so on our walks I need to have complete control over him to prevent any potential outlashing, the gentle leader helps as I can put him in a sit and hold his mouth closed with the mechanics of the product.
I highly recommend this product, as well as a high recommendation to request help when you first purchase to avoid inappropriate use. For more in-depth info please visit the FAQ on premiers website.