March 22, 2014
Last week, “Let the (Doggy) Games Begin! – Part 1” introduced us to some of the foibles of dogs at play in general and our three Shih Tzus in particular. The purpose was to show the wide range of individuality that dogs invest in their playtime. Dogs actually need playtime as much as children do, to keep their minds and bodies active and fit. It’s therefore a good idea for pet parents to be familiar with their pets’ preferred methods of playing.
Baby Toys vs. Dog Toys
One of the great bonuses of having small dogs with small teeth is that they don’t very often rip a toy apart. However, I have found that buying baby toys for dogs at garage sales (or anywhere else for that matter) is not such a good thing, unless the stuffed toy in question is uncommonly sturdy. Most baby toys aren’t that durable and won’t stand up to even the small bites of a playful Shih Tzu. Toys made for dogs are usually (but not always) more tightly sewn, with stronger thread, and will stand up to some hard usage.
No matter what kind of toy, I always check it over for buttons that can be chewed off and swallowed or other parts that might not be good for small digestive tracts. If squeakies have removable parts I usually put them back on the toy rack. I do have to get the softer squeakies for our dogs because Ling Ling, for one, has a soft little mouth and the hard plastic toys are too rough on it.
Playing in the Water
What about playing in the water? We know that many retrievers are avid about leaping into the water any old time and splashing around to their hearts’ content. They were bred for water retrieval. What about ShihTzus?
Ling Ling and the Nutsoid Approach
In this case, water doesn’t appear to be a breed issue but rather a personal issue. We haven’t had a chance to see if any of the three like swimming, but Ling Ling LOVES water, and I mean with a capital L. Actually she goes a bit nuts when she gets water on her anywhere, and she adores her bath and will sometimes try to crawl into the bathtub before her turn.
The reason we noticed the nutsoid part was when we lived in Calgary and used a very large watering can to water down our patio garden plants, some of which were ranged around the shelves in our gazebo and allowed to drip onto the cement. Ling Ling would run under the drips and just go wild, racing about and barking with joy, dancing hither and yon and generally becoming a picture of ecstasy. This carried through with water spraying from our sprinkler on the back lawn when we moved to Saskatchewan. Ling Ling was in heaven.
Oreo and the Silently Enduring Approach
With Oreo, he…well, he endures water. He’s not afraid of it, but too much is too much, and he’d really prefer not to get wet at all. He has tried playing in it with LingLing, but he honestly doesn’t see the point, and he doesn’t go into the paroxysms of joy that she does.
Tilly and the Practical Approach
Tilly takes a practical approach. She seems to say, “If you are going to get me wet and you have a good reason for it, go ahead. Try not to get it in my eyes. Don’t expect me to play in it, though. Water is for getting clean and drinking. Period.” The best thing you could ever do for Tilly is take her for a car ride. Strangely, she is the only one of the three who loves car rides.
So don’t expect your Shih Tzu (or other dog) to do what…well, what you expect him to. He will be as individual as you are. And his upbringing and background won’t always explain his choices. Usually, whatever he decides is okay, unless it involves hurting himself or someone else. Even then, you can’t protect your babies from everything, although, lord knows, I surely try.
How about your dogs? Do they run you ragged when they play?
Or do they keep you laughing?
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(Next week watch for Part 1 of “Tilly Tot’s Story”)
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Sandra Bell Kirchman
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