A Warning

All of your dog’s toys come with a warning label. Of course they do. I mean, plastic storage boxes come with that big sticker that say don’t put your baby in this box and close the lid. One would assume that was pretty self-explanatory, unless there’s some cottage market for live baby storage solutions that I don’t know about. So of course dog toys come with their own warnings. And of course nobody reads them.

But it’s a warning we need to visit for a moment.

Most dog toys say something to the effect of: always supervise during use. And this seems excessive, until your dog ingests or chokes on something they chewed off one of those toys. Sometimes it’s not a big deal, but other times it can cause a bowel obstruction that requires expensive surgery—and that’s the best case scenario.

It is particularly important to supervise dogs with food toys. Items that once held food, smell like food, or might be perceived as containers for food are in a special category for a lot of dogs. They might guard them from other animals, from kids, or even from you. They might attempt to utterly destroy them to get every last morsel of food. They might even eat the items themselves. Some chewing items like rawhide, bully sticks and bones can pose choking hazards. And if your dog doesn’t chew their food, large chunks of meat or vegetables can even pose a hazard.

The paranoid among us might feel inspired to watch our dogs like a hawk for every minute of the rest of their lives. Others might just find this information frustrating—how can you expect to take care of you dog when the world conspires to threaten it all the darn time?

In reality, the level of supervision required depends on your dog and how they play with their toys and eat their food. Their behavior might change as they learn to play news games, so don’t assume. I recommend that you always begin with extra caution regarding all of the toys, doohickeys, ideas and gadgets I introduce in this book. Supervise your dog until you’re confident of how they will behave. It’s better for everyone.