Two Dogs, One Bone… or something like that

Like any good dog-owning household, we have been long time proponents of durable chew toy options including bully sticks and antlers. However, as much as we wanted to maintain these toys in our weekly rotation, we just couldn’t get around the high prices at which most of these toys are offered.

You may remember our post last week, where we wrote about the outdoor festival we attended while visiting family in Virginia. Dogs and their owners were one of the most common customers at this event, and so it should come as no surprise that there were a hand full of canine-centered vendors in attendance. The most notable of these was a booth for Best Bully Sticks.

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At the Dominion Riverrock event

When we walked up to the booth, we were greeted by friendly and knowledgeable dog lovers, standing behind deep buckets full of every array of natural, safe, and durable dog treat, toy, and chew that you could imagine! We made our selections (three EXTRA LARGE elk antlers, a giant braided bully stick, a kangaroo tendon, and a stuffed gullet, as well as a few small all-natural dog treats) and were astounded when they told us the price… $36! We have seen elk antlers of similar size go for $20 EACH, so we were so pleased to receive so much value for our money.

Frog legs... the go-to pose in our home for optimal elk antler destruction.

Frog legs… the go-to pose in our home for optimal elk antler destruction.

The dogs were so pleased with our selections, and we were so happy with the minimal effect on our wallets, that we went back the next day for more!

This is about the best view we can get of the antlers, as the dogs hate to give them up!

This is about the best view we can get of the antlers, as the dogs hate to give them up!

"You're not gonna tryen take this, right?"

“Yur not gonna tryen take this, wight?”

The more time I spend researching the company, the more pleased I am, and the more I want to support what they do. They take every effort to make sure that their products are going to earn and retain your loyalty… by only selling the kinds of items that they would happily offer to their own pets! They set themselves apart from the competition by pledging that their products are never chemically-treated, and therefore remain genuinely all-natural… they are even FDA/USDA approved. They also take their reputation a step further by offering financial support to a variety of animal charities.

Shown at about half its original size... the coveted elk antler

Shown at about half its original size… the coveted elk antler

Check out Best Bully Sticks on their website, where your order is eligible for a 5% discount if you like their facebook page. You and your pups will both be glad that you did!

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I received no compensation for this post, and wrote it of my own volition as a happy BBS customer!

 

A Few of Our Favorite Things

The telltale sign of a household that is run by dogs? No, it’s not just the dog hair covering most surfaces. It’s the toys, strewn about from room to room, owners wincing when they step on the remains of nylabones or trip over rubber kongs.

It is no secret that our pups are a bit spoiled. There are three different rooms where the dogs are likely to be found, and in each, lives a bucket that overflows with toys. Many are simply scraps of fabric or plastic, remnants of toys that once were…. monkeys or snakes or piggies.

In a house full of three dogs, it doesn’t take long for us to determine which toys will stand up to the tests our dogs put them through. Here are our favorites, for your viewing chewing pleasure. (Many thanks to our friends Casey, Leroy, and Tofu over at Leroy & Co. for the inspiration!)

1) The Big Red Ball

IMG_0259This Paw-zzle Ball, found at Cabela’s, was such a winning purchase. If Gaige is outside, she is either chewing on this toy, chasing it, trying to find it, or trying to steal it. It is a large plastic ball, with a few holes around the outside. On the inside another ball is retained, which rolls around, enticing the dogs to try to plot its escape. This is an outdoor only toy, due to its size and weight, but it is incredibly durable. Its numerous holes make it easy for a few dogs to grab ahold and play tug. One warning: Gaige loves to hold this at the bottom, prancing around with her head high in the air (see photographic evidence, above). This creates an obstruction of vision, which may or may not have resulted in a dent to the back of Dad’s new truck!

2) Anything Nylabone

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Nylabones are a big deal in our house, but most especially for Gaige and Georgia (might it be their shared pittie heritage?) These hard plastic toys are not meant for playing fetch,  but work really well for dogs that love to chew, chew, chew. I feel comfortable leaving them with the dogs while in their crates for the day, because I know they will not break off into small, swallow-able pieces. They come in a large variety of shapes/sizes/types, but I know that the quality of Nylabone toys is always impressive, regardless of the specifics. Tonka generally prefers toys that are more cuddly, but these will last long enough to be worth the money!

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3) This Weird Cheap Scrap Toy

DSC_0039This toy was a spur-of-the-moment purchase from a Marshall’s or Ross’s or similar discount store. I didn’t expect it to last long, because it was so affordable, but it has turned into one of our favorites. You know those tug toys that our dogs love, but we hate? They are twisted and braided together with rope, which then frays and sheds EVERYwhere. Well this is nothing like those. Sure, it is twisted and knotted and works great for group play. However, this toy is made out of scraps of what is a stretchy, almost T-Shirt-like material, so there is no fraying! While this isn’t a toy that our dogs will play with on their own, it works well for fetching or tugging, and it still looks cute if it is accidentally left out when company comes over. While I can’t tell you exactly where to find it, I can tell you that you could probably make this into a DIY project!

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4) Antlers

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Have you tried antlers with your dogs? Our pups cannot. Get. Enough. These are all-natural, and you can even provide them yourself if you have access to the necessary supplies (ie a husband that hunts!) They are silly expensive from pet specialty stores, but you can also get them online through Etsy, or from private dealers (again with the Cabela’s, but there is a man who sells antlers himself outside of this store on weekends, and they are only $1.00 per piece!) Regardless of what price you pay for the antlers, it is worth it. Ours last for MONTHS, even with aggressive chewers in our house, and will not break off into shards. They also don’t smell or stain your flooring. Our dogs like antlers so much that they are the only toy we have to moderate during playtime, to make sure no one is getting too possessive. If you have tried the antlers, and your dogs didn’t take to them send them our way, please! try running them under warm water, which will release lots of smells to entice your pooch.

Look at that concentration!

Look at that concentration! There is an antler under there somewhere…

We are very lucky in that, for the most part, our dogs are pretty good about sharing their toys with one another. As I said, particularly high-value toys (like the antlers) can cause a grumble, so we make sure to moderate the pups when they are out. We try to dictate the “finder’s, keeper’s” rule, meaning that if one dog has a toy, they are to retain possession of that toy until they drop it of their own volition. Furthermore, if two dogs are tugging on the same toy, we make sure that their body language is light and happy, or the game ends and the toy disappears. Gaige is not always good about taking the other dogs’ signals seriously, so we must sometimes reinforce their growls by removing Gaige from the room, or putting her in a down-stay with a different toy.

Georgia and Gaige have a funny little routine that they have worked out when it comes to sharing toys. If, for example, Gaige is chewing on an antler that Georgia wants, Georgia will come up to her, playing animatedly with a different toy (typically one that is obnoxiously squeaky). This will entice Gaige to drop the antler, at which point Georgia will drop her squeaker toy. Once Gaige goes for the squeaking toy, Georgia is able to steal the antler, and head off to an undisclosed location. What a sneak!

Wanna play??

Wanna play??

We still have a few awesome giveaways leftover from 2 Hounds Designs! For a chance to win a collar or a collar/leash combo, leave a comment with a suggestion for a post topic 🙂 Thanks!

 

 

Fundraiser: Prize #11 – Play Bow!

You may remember in a recent post (here) we talked about the important of stimulating our dogs mentally. We stressed that this is equally as vital as physically exercise! One of the quickest ways to exhaust your pup, is to work his or her mind. 1 tired dog = a happy dog & happy owner! This theory is catching on in animal shelters, where boredom and stress can run rampant. A tired dog will ‘show’ to potential adopters much better than one who is over-excited, mouthy, or jumpy. If we give shelter dogs a way to expel some energy through quiet play, we are helping them come one step closer to a forever families.

This interactive toy is Gaige's FAVORITE

This interactive toy is Gaige’s FAVORITE

Simple enrichment works wonders in shelters, but it is just as effective in our own homes! When we were expecting a large amount of company around the holidays, we were careful to think about all three of our dogs, but especially Georgia. While she had always been calm and friendly with strangers, we weren’t quite sure how she would handle excessive noise and foot traffic. Of course, she blew us away by displaying the best manners out of all three dogs, but it sure helped that we kept lots of ‘puzzles’ around for her to work on in case she became bored or anxious. For us, these puzzles were oftentimes just kongs with frozen ingredients inside, but rest assured that the animal market is catching on to the trend and need for such products!

Tonka loves it, too

Tonka loves it, too

Poochie Heaven – Interactive Toys for your dog!

Although we originally only planned to offer TEN prizes, while searching for a dog toy company that specialized in puzzles, I was delighted to come across Poochie Heaven. I couldn’t resist including them in our giveaway! They seem to take their business a step further, by truly understanding how dogs play and learn, and providing products that enhance the bond between dogs and their owners. While they carry everything from dog beds to collars and bowls, their toy selection was most impressive. They share their approach to toy selection, below:

“Interactive dog toys typically have some element of a challenge attached to playing. The dog must move pieces around in order to be rewarded with a toy or a treat. Many of the interactive dog toys act as puzzles which the dog must solve in order to be rewarded. Interactive dog toys are available at different levels of difficulty as some dogs need easier puzzles, and some need more advanced puzzles. The dog puzzle toys can be as simple as moving a ball a certain way to release a treat, to arranging pieces of a complex puzzle. As the dog completes the easier puzzles, they will happily move forward with the more challenging interactive dog toys.

It can be a very fun bonding experience to play with your dog using an interactive dog toy. The dog begins to learn through the toy that when he or she completes certain tasks, they are rewarded. If the owner helps the dog with the puzzle, the dog soon learns that if they listen to their owner’s commands, they will be lead to a treat. Therefore, an interactive dog toy can help make your dog respond more positively as you teach it other commands and behaviors. Interactive dog toys are suitable for dogs at any age; they can also be a great tool to use when developing a trusting relationship with a new puppy.”

You can head over to the Poochie Heaven website to check out their vast array of dog toy puzzles. However, if you are feeling lucky, simply make a donation to our fundraiser, here! You will be registered to win the Poochie Heaven interactive dog toy shown below, as well as ten other AMAZING dog-inspired products.

dogsmartdogtoy

This toy may look unassuming, but it packs a powerful punch when combatting your dog’s boredom or anxiety! By hiding treats beneath the hollow blocks, your dog will learn to remove the blocks with their paws or teeth to enjoy the morsels hiding below. As your pup becomes an expert, you can increase the level of difficulty so that only some of the blocks contain treats. This way, your dog has to use their sense of smell to uncover their reward.

This toy, at a value of $57 + shipping, was generously donated by Poochie Heaven!