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Toys

Best Toys for a Shih Tzu

Overview

When you think about a dog's possessions (not including those that are ones you use (brush, bathing products, etc.), he has very few. His bed, his bowls, and his toys. So, making sure that you have the very best of these few things is important. 

There are some common mistakes that owners make in regard to toys, that can greatly decrease their purpose... and leave a puppy or dog's needs unmet.

Here, we'll go over some what to avoid and how to find toys that benefit your Shih Tzu, depending on his age and his needs. 

Most Common Toy Mistakes

There are some traps to avoid:

1) Not seeing toys as tools.

Each toy should be there to serve a function. And thought should go into choosing the right toy to be effective as possible for the function that it should serve. When this is achieved, a Shih Tzu will have a small arsenal that contains toys for each situation and need that comes up.

2) Having too many. 

It may seem counter-intuitive that more toys are not better. However, when there is a huge pile, the good ones can be buried underneath and never seen. 

It's also wise to do a 'keep-don't-keep' to weed out worn, broken, or useless toys, so that your Shih Tzu's final collection only contains those that are effective and those that he enjoys playing with. 

The 7 Types of Toys that Meet All Needs

The main categories of toys are:
  • Teething
  • Boredom
  • Chew
  • Retrieval
  • Learning
  • Treat release
  • Companion

#1 Teething Toys

Starting at 3 to 4 months old and lasting until 7 to 9 months old, a Shih Tzu will be teething. When milk teeth fall out, this does very little other than perhaps cause a bit of odd puppy bad breath. 

However, when 42 adult teeth are emerging in place of those 28 puppy teeth, this brings an incredible amount of itching on the gums and an intense desire to chew.

A puppy will indeed chew on just about anything, in a desperate attempt to quell his discomfort. If you have the right teething toys, he will not need to search long to find some relief. 

*** Please note that offering ice cubes (plain or flavored with fruit juice such as 100% real apple juice) is also a great method for helping with this. And if you find that crunching on ice helps your Shih Tzu puppy, do use both ice and toys. 

The important design to look for with teething toys are durable toys but with give. It's best to have some with flavors (this keeps a puppy interested) and some that have have various textures. 

A puppy needs to be able to work parts of the toy to areas that are itching at any one particular moment. Toys with tiny bumps are often great 'scratchers'. You will find that some marked as 'dental' toys work very well, since these have those tiny protrusions. 

#2 Boredom Toys 

The important elements here for the best toys to keep a Shih Tzu occupied as that they call out to him in some way. 

This can be through movement, color or sound. When a toy wiggles or bounces in a funny way, this gives a dog a sense that play is a two-way street. And toys that call out in amusing voices or noises can keep a dog occupied for quite a while. 

These sorts of toys are perfect for when you are too busy to interact with your Shih Tzu or he is home alone. 

#3 Chew Toys for Strong Chewers

Of course, every toy that a puppy or dog has will be chewed with the one exception of companion toys that are cuddled more than anything. However, if your Shih Tzu is a strong chewer, you'll want a few select toys that can stand up to strong jaws and sharp teeth.

It's comforting to know that when your Shih Tzu is gnawing away, that he can do so for days, weeks or even months without a toy ripping or deflating.

While no toy will last forever, there are some good choices for essentially 'indestructible' toys, and Goughnuts even comes with a guarantee; if your dog can reach the inner red color, you can return it for a no-hassle free replacement. And you can never go wrong with a Kong.

# 4 Retrieval

What's playtime without fetch? You'll want some toy balls (for proper throwing and bounce) to give your Shih Tzu a good workout, for either an indoor exercise session (down a hallway works well) or when outside in the yard to get both fresh air and activity to burn off steam. 

With this toy breed, however, you'll want to be sure to obtain balls and bouncy toys that are small enough to be mouthed. 

#5 Learning Toys

Canines are incredibly intelligent. Most enjoy a challenge when it brings about a reward. While command training can serve that purpose, other options to help a dog reach his intellectual potential and to gain self-confidence are puzzle toys in which dog and owner work together as teacher and student.

Once he learns to nose the right levers and paw the right buttons, treats are releases, giving him instant reward. 

Puzzle games come in varying levels, from beginner to expert. If you want to incorporate a learning toy into your Shih Tzu's collection and have 15 minutes per day to devote to teaching him, it's recommended to begin at level 1 or 2 before increasing the challenge. 

#6 Treat Release Toys

Every Shih Tzu should have at least one great treat release toy. These are perfect for when you are busy and are not able to play with your Shih Tzu and for when your puppy or dog is home alone.

You don't have to worry about your Shih Tzu not realizing that there's treats inside, the canine sense of smell is amazing. With these, the lure of the food prompts a dog to run after, nose, paw, chew at and otherwise stay focused and occupied.

As small treats are released, this rewards play, therefore encouraging even more interaction. 

#7 Companion Toys

These types of toys meet two needs: Trouble settling down at night (typical for young pups) and for those that have a hard time when home alone. 

New puppies often stay up at night, a bit fearful and hesitant about their new surroundings. Away from dam and littermates, it can be a rough transition. And going to check on and comfort a new puppy all night long can equate staying up all night with a baby, leaving you terrible sleep deprived. Giving a new puppy a companion toy can really help in this regard.

For dogs home alone, separation anxiety is a very real and very common issue. The feelings of isolation can be overwhelming. While there are other steps to help resolve this such as having the right supplies including a playpen, looping music that helps settle a dog, leaving on lights, etc., another crucial step is to offer a toy that mimics a living creature. This offers a 'living' friend that helps remove feelings of loneliness. 

We highly recommend Snuggle Pets, as these have a comforting heartbeat and an optimal setting to emit a soothing warmth. These are durable and well-made. 
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