Tip of the Month

9/25/2007 Rope Toys

Rope toys are tightly-knotted cotton ropes that are available in many different sizes, shapes, and lengths. Some have multiple knots, tennis or rubber balls, bones, or handles attached for various types of doggie fun and entertainment. When choosing a rope toy, have your dog trainer help you to find one that cannot completely fit into the dog’s mouth. Always choose a longer-length rope toy to prevent accidental ingestion or injury when using it as an interactive toy. Make sure that when playing interactively, you do not harm your pooch’s learning. Consult your trainer for methods of playing interactively with the rope toy without negatively affecting his or her animal training. By allowing your dog to win a game of tug-of-war, it can give him overconfidence and falsely place him in an alpha role, meaning an increased feeling of dominance over you, the owner. This can lead to multiple behavioral issues. However, allowing the dog to win during tug-of-war can be a positive training technique for dogs with low confidence as it will give them increased courage and self-esteem.

Pros
• Most rope toys are soft and flexible, which is attractive to many dogs.

• Rope toys can be used for various interactive games, during dog training as a reward, or as a supervised chew toy.

• They may be soaked in cool water for teething puppies, although you should never leave the puppy unsupervised while he chews on a rope toy. Consult your animal trainer to determine which toys are safe for puppies.

• These toys are easy to transport, so you can take them wherever you take your dog. You never know when the perfect training opportunity will arise.


Cons
• Rope toys are not for aggressive chewers that may shred the rope toy into pieces and/or swallow strands or chunks of the toy.

• Dogs may never be left unsupervised with any rope toy.

• Because they are soft and flexible, some dogs may mistake them for clothing or other inappropriate fabric objects. This could stimulate problem chewing, which is a behavioral issue that may need to be handled by a professional dog trainer.

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