Learning and Training

Bring Into Play

Write on Cue

IMG_4927By Aubrey Beardsley

Welcome to another Write on Cue!

This week, our good friend Janice has asked us to talk about toys, especially our favourite toys and what goes into making a must-have toy. 

Aubrey Beardsley takes on toys!

Toys are an important part of our lives. Sometimes we use toys to play with each other, and sometimes we use toys just to play on our own. But we all love our toys.

IMG_0745Howard was not so good at playing when he arrived, but he loved his toys. And we have had to teach him how to play. He didn’t even really know a play bow. He would just bark and hope that somebody was ready for a game. But now he is really getting good at knowing how to play. We are all very good tutors. But it’s amazing and sad to think that this little dog spent his whole life in a cage, right up to his rescue, and so he was starting his new life without knowing how to talk to his friends.

Play is an important part of teaching Howard all the social skills he missed out on in his bad start to life. And toys are a big part of helping him play. So toys are teaching IMG_1745him how to be a happy dog. It may just look like fun and games, but when we cooperate and play socially, we are actually learning. It’s like a kind of cognitive therapy. We are actually training. Play is what brings us all together.

And play is an important part of dealing with the stresses of life, whether you’re a human or a dog. Everybody copes better with play. And lots of research shows that play improves all sorts of things, including learning. There is no better motivation to a lesson well done than enjoying yourself! Teaching and training and learning should be enjoyable, not scary.

So, for so many reasons, toys are us!

When it comes to the best toys, humans are always looking for something that will last a long time without breaking. But the thing is, tearing a toy apart is what makes it fun! Or they want a toy that doesn’t make noise, because that’s annoying. But again, that’s the fun! We all get bored with a toy that doesn’t do anything at all. And so eventually, any self-respecting dog would probably stop playing with it.

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Jeff with a selection of our top 5 intact

These are our top five favourite toys (in no particular order) that we don’t tend to destroy because they just keep being amazing:

  1. Flat toys that can double as a tug toy that are full of crackly paper or cellophane. These are usually covered in a plush fabric.
  2. Plastic bottle toys and crunchy toys. A plastic bottle toy is a soft toy that has a plastic bottle inside and they are amazing to crunch. You can even replace the plastic bottle as and when necessary.
  3. Soft squeaky balls or some sort of creature that is a bit like a ball as long as it squeaks. These are Jeff’s absolutely, without a doubt, no question about it, favourite toys. He has one in particular, a Ninja toy that he adores beyond compare. He carries it everywhere, squeaking away. He takes it to bed, he takes it to the rooftop, he carries it upstairs, he carries it downstairs, he takes it to the Lookout Library, he shows it to the cats, he takes it to the bathroom, he takes it to the kitchen. But he always leaves it at the door before he goes in the garden. I guess he thinks he might lose it and one can’t be too careful with something so precious.
  4. Our long soft squeaky plush snake tug toy. It’s amazing, but 4 years on it is still 100% intact.
  5. Super bouncing, super chewy, rubber balls. Although they are better if they squeak.

And our top five favourite toys (again, in no particular order) that we love to destroy because that is where the magic happens:

  1. IMG_4704

    Jeff and some of our favourite calamities

    Plush toys, with or without squeakers (pulling the stuffing out is amazing as a team sport – and really, that’s what you are after, a toy that we play with not merely clean our teeth with).

  2. Those hard “indestructible” plush toys (again, pulling the stuffing out is amazing as a team sport). We used to have a shark, he is now a dugong thanks to our reshaping. And we also have a Turkey, Albu-Turkey, who has been rudely de-beaked. But we also have a Kangaroo and  Koala and so far they remain intact. This is quite remarkable and shows their tremendous resilience to adverse conditions. Their survival is probably down to their ability to hop and climb.
  3. IMG_4708

    Destined for destruction

    Rope toy animals. We don’t usually like rope toys. But we do like rope toys that are animals. It seems that our ropes must be bunnies, monkeys, or pandas before we are interested. And unravelling them is fantastic fun.,

  4. Cardboard boxes (big or tiny, we don’t care, they are amazing).
  5. Plastic bottles and yoghurt pots (which Human retrieves once the damage is too much, so these usually don’t last long at all, but they are amazing).
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Realising their destiny

Oh, and the mail … just kidding … Howard just likes to fetch it because he loves the applause. It’s been a while since he has opened anything. Unless it’s from Amazon.

And something that should have a category of its own – Jeff’s favourites – and that something has to be socks. Jeff doesn’t care if a person is wearing them or not, he loves socks.

We do still like those indestructible chew toys, because we can chew them, and that in itself is satisfying. But when it comes to playing together, you can’t beat our two top five lists!

The thing is, if you get a dog a toy, it should entertain us. Whether that means we squeak it constantly, or destroy it, or bring it and its slobber to bed with you, it should capture our imagination. And if we destroy a toy you should feel very happy. Because then you know you got us a great dog toy. And we just loved it to pieces.

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