From Rachel Jones. Email her at rjones[AT]borderstan.com.
I just did a little shopping spree on Zappos.com, and after I unpacked the shoes, I realized I had a whole pile of free puppy toys. Shoe boxes, tissue paper, and pieces of flannel all make great playthings, and it didn’t cost me a dime.
Yes, the puppies are going to shred everything and yes, I will be sweeping up little pieces of cardboard. But isn’t that better than cleaning up pieces of your furniture or shoes? If you give your puppy plenty of things to shred, their urge will be satisfied and they won’t feel compelled to destroy your possessions.
Lots of household junk can become a dog toy. Take an empty plastic water bottle or milk jug, leave the cap off (cap is a choking hazard) and put some treats in the bottle. Your dog has to roll around the bottle to get the treats out. Pretty much any household item can hide treats: old socks, sheets and T-shirts can all be tied in knots with treats inside. Puppies can also have a lot of fun with junk mail!
Use common sense when choosing your re-purposed toys. Small objects like buttons can be choking hazards. Also, if you have a dog that is likely to swallow inedible objects like a Lab or a Pit Bull you may need to restrict them to very large toys or supervise them very closely when they are chewing.
Remember that your trash is your dog’s treasure! Before throwing things away, try to turn it into a fun toy for your dog.