Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Doglemma of the millennium

All dog toys bear labels warning you to supervise your dog while playing with this or any toy. Yet the point of toys (barring the few toys marketed as "interactive") is to keep your dog busy while unattended. Why is this reminding me of the proverbial stay-at-home-mom who hires a nanny? (Yes, CW, dogs bring out parenting discourse, however much or little one thinks of one's dog as a human child.) Meaning, I guess the idea could be that you're home but not actively playing with your dog, so (because what else could you possibly be doing with your time?) you are watching the dog with your full attention as it entertains itself. Or it could be (and I suspect it is) a liability issue, a cousin of the phenomenon of vendors with bongs on display "for tobacco use only." As in, it's a given that the point of a (rhyme unintended) Kong is to give your dog something to do when you go out, but they don't want to get sued if your dog manages to find a hazardous use for the thing. Whatever the case, it bothers me that there's obviously some answer to how to keep a dog busy when it's alone for, say, three hours, something to provide a dog so that it doesn't sit there all depressed, but also doesn't snake-like manage to down some enormous object left with it intentionally for its own amusement.


kei said...

Ooh, dog posts! Maybe you got a smaller Kong than what we got Mitsu, but I think they're fine to leave with an unattended dog. We put peanut butter in the Kong, lead her to the crate (bring on the judgments, I'm ready!), and she goes in there waiting for it. My theory is that she's interested in it only insofar as it provides peanut butter. When we come home, it's usually abandoned, or she's sleeping on it. The problematic toys depend on the dog's tendencies--I classify Mitsu as a "powerful chewer" and even some Nylabone toys for such chewers, I'm suspicious of because even though she doesn't seem to care about consuming bits and pieces she rips off, I sometimes if she consumes them by accident anyway. Cloth-based toys, though she destroys them within minutes, I don't worry about so much. I think she just likes to destroy, shred, unstuff. A lot of the times, these things are like how porn is sometimes described--you can't define it generally but you'll know it when you see it; that is, you'll know when something is potentially risky or dangerous when you see it, and you'll know what appropriate actions to take.

Phoebe said...


I think we have the right Kong - it's definitely not something she could swallow! We fill it with peanut butter, freeze it, and... I'm not sure freezing does much, because she downs all the peanut butter quickly regardless. But she also finds a Kong with only a hint of peanut butter pretty interesting, so it works out.

The Nylabone issue we're having is Bisou's great love of tossing them under the oven, which requires this giant bbq fork thing that came with the apartment to get them out, and even that sometimes isn't enough. She likes to chew, but I don't think has the capacity to do much with something like that. Soft toys, though, she does the same as Mitsu - the main problem is that (at least in this part of NJ) this can mean $15 gone instantly. It's ended up being better to give her one of our old pillows - that, for whatever reason, she can't destroy, odd because it isn't designed to be durable enough to be a dog toy!

I'm sure I'll eventually feel that I know what's dangerous for Bisou when I see it. The problem, I guess, is that I'm not there yet. I'd gotten past the point of freaking out every time she puts something from the ground outside into her mouth (b/c it's always a leaf, and she always spits it out), but then she discovered dead worms, and it was back to square one.

And finally, the Crate Question. Bisou never quite took to it as her "den," no matter how many soft surfaces, toys, and treats we've thrown in there. So she still sleeps in it, and goes in it if we leave beyond the immediate area, but the gated kitchen (the gate she can sneakily open sealed off with two chairs, yes, quite the production) is now her place for when we just go out for an hour or so. We're living in an apartment where the furniture isn't ours, so letting her free to roam everywhere when we're out isn't an option.