The Humane Society of the United States maintains that toys are essential for a dog's well-being. Toys stimulate a dog's brain and can stop the development of some negative behaviours that frequently stem from boredom. As well, chewing exercises a dog's jaws and massages gums. German Shepherds have powerful jaws and require sturdy toys. Plush toys are not a proper choice as pieces can be torn off and squeakers can be ripped out.
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Rubber Toys and Balls
A hard rubber toy is an appropriate choice for your German Shepherd, according to Susan Ewing in "German Shepherd Dogs." Rubber toys come in different sizes. Choose one that will not fit completely in your dog's mouth. Larger tug toys tend to be more durable. Use tug toys for a game of tug of war; they have an erratic bounce when thrown that catches your dog's attention. Balls are another option as long as the ball is made for dogs and is durable.
As a breed, German Shepherds are working dogs. As pets, they mentally and physically need a job to do. The ASPCA recommends Kongs because they give your dog a chance to work for food and use problem-solving skills. A Kong is a hard rubber treat toy with a cone-like shape. A hole at both ends allows you to fill it with food such as peanut butter, chicken, yoghurt, fruit, and cheese, providing a distraction for long periods of time. If the Kong is stuffed with messy foods, give it to your dog only on a floor surface that can be cleaned.
Kongs come in different sizes. The black Kongs are the hardiest and therefore the best choice for your adult German Shepherd Dog. Smaller Kongs are available for puppies. Make sure to take away the puppy Kong when your German Shepherd Dog gets bigger and stronger.
German Shepherds have 42 teeth that come together in a forceful scissor-like bite. According to Liz Palika in "German Shepherd Dog: Your Happy Healthy Pet," German Shepherds should only have raw beef knuckle bones. They could easily fragment smaller bones, posing a choking hazard and potentially damaging their intestines.
Nylon bones are a good alternative and come in different sizes and flavours. Only give nylon bones made for aggressive chewers that are about eight inches long or longer to your German Shepherd. Nylon bones are not meant to be consumed. Remove them once the ends begin to wear down.
Digestible treat bones make good chewing opportunities for your dog. Supervise your dog to safeguard against choking.
Knotted Rope Toys
Rope toys provide an opportunity for chewing as well as interactive games such as tug of war. Some knotted ropes are a part of a food puzzle toy. A smaller rope can be shredded creating a choking hazard and the long pieces of string ripped off a rope can become entangled in the intestines. Go for a thicker rope.
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- "German Shepherd Dog: A Comprehensive Guide to Owning and Caring for Your Dog (Comprehensive Owner's Guide)"; Susan Samms; 2003
- "German Shepherd Dogs (Animal Planet Pet Care Library)" Susan M. Ewing; 2006
- "German Shepherd Dog: Your Happy Healthy Pet"; Liz Palika; 2008
- "How to stuff a Kong"
- "Selecting The Right Chew Toy"