Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Frankentoys: satisfying a destructive dog without constant new toys

We have a very playful dog who enjoys destroying toys. But it's not very "green" to keep buying new toys and throwing them out. Fortunately, Sarah has come up with an excellent solution which involved combining scraps of old toys together into new toys which the dog considers fun and exciting again. You will need the following:
1. A few old toys which your dog has extracted the stuffing from and grown bored with
2. An old chewed up rope toy (we used a rope lobster)
3. A happy dog

For our latest toy surgery, we began with a new large monkey toy Leeta got as an early Christmas present, which was extremely popular:
Leeta eating monkey brains

She loved the toy, and had great fun playing with it for a few days before we ended up in this situation:
Deconstructed Monkey

Note the shell of the monkey, as well as several other old toys in the area. To proceed, take the shell of the toy, and restuff it with other toy shells. Tennis balls, spare squeakers, and the old stuffing also make excellent things to restuff the toy with. The less ripped the shell is, the easier this will be. If only one end of a long tubular toy is ripped you can just restuff it and call it a day, but since this monkey was quite ripped up, I had to cut off several strands from the rope toy and use them to tie the new toy together so it would stay intact. And behold, a fun new frankentoy is ready to be rediscovered by your dog! Leeta enjoying frankenmonkey

We can generally get away with recombining old toys several times before she gets truly bored with them. Not every combination works, the most effective strategy seems to be a mix of a toy she still plays with regularly, and some old toys she has forgotten about (which may be interesting again). It's also key for her to have to work at it to be able to extract the new stuffing, although she still enjoys shaking them around and chasing them even before she settles down to redestroy them. There are some toys you can get that are designed to have parts removed and restuffed which we also like (http://www.amazon.com/Kyjen-Babies-Original-Series-Platypus/dp/B0009YHTA6), but this is a great way to reuse all of the normal toys you may get.