I would have to say that almost any guy who plays with his Labrador his favorite game is the good ‘old’ game of Tug of War. Many K-9 professionals are against the Tug-of-War pastime as they say it increases aggression in the dogs yet we still do it, anyone who owns a Lab is guilty of this little pleasure and yet no aggressive cases have stemmed from it but what about the rope? No one ever questions the rope and if it’s safe for the dogs. I have a bit of very interesting information that I truly hope will open some people eyes to the safety of their new lifelong friend, the Labrador Retriever.
ARE ROPE TOYS SAFE FOR YOUR LAB PUPPY
There is no direct yes or no answer to this question but the best way to answer it would be like any other dog toy. With proper supervision, with careful and knowledge-based purchases, rope dog toys can be safe …and lots of fun as well! So, what knowledge do you need to keep your lab puppy safe with these potentially dangerous and very popular tug-of-war rope toys?
Just before we get into this, I will quickly share my credentials on this topic so you know it will be legit information on this topic. I was raised and lived on a sailboat for my entire childhood. My parents owned one of the largest rope manufacturers in Canada during this time. They supplied rope for Hydro One, Redpath Sugar freight lines, numerous Fire stations, specialized police task forces, tugboats and many private boats, yachts and multi-million dollar yachts all over North America. My mother helped me make my own little venture on the side when I saw rope dog bones in a local pet store. I knew I could make these with my parents’ rope products. So my mother helped me contact veterinaries, professional dog trainers, pet store sales clerks, lawyers, surgeons, a veterinary pathologist and even veterinary colleges like the very reputable one here in Guelph, Ontario, Canada. It took us near 6-months to obtain all the necessary information before we made an educated decision on whether it was safe and humane to create and sell dog rope toys. So, I think I have the credentials to talk about this very often overlooked topic.
GET TO KNOW THE ROPES
There are 4 styles of rope; single braid or platt rope, double braid rope, cord or cordage and finally three-strand rope. In the image below, you can see that Double braid has an outer sheath with an inner core. Single braid or platt rope is just the outer sheath with no core. Both of these braids you DO NOT want your dog to have. These are usually fully synthetic materials and have often been treated with assortments of dyes and bleaches.
Next, you have cordage or cord can have a core or no core at all but follows the weave double braided line but comes in very small diameters and are made up of fully synthetic materials. Cordage also tends to be very vibrant meaning the rope has been submitted to many other chemicals, dyes, bleaches etc… believe it or not, there is a lot of cordage used on cheaper made toys.
The only rope you are going to allow your puppy is what is known as triple or 3-stranded rope. This is the classic nautical look and is traditionally made with natural materials such as Cotton, Hemp, and Burlap. 3-strand is a softer weave design that allows the strands to be able to wrap around the teeth like a natures’ toothbrush. Along with the natural materials makes it by far the natural choice for your puppy or dog.
PUPPY ROPE CREDENTIALS
The above image is a Nylon/Ankerlene blended 3-stranded rope but you can really see the construction of the rope really well. You can also tell by the sheen of the rope as synthetic composite materials have a sheen to them as for where naturals tend to be dull in appearance.
You want to use only 100% unbleached cotton triple or 3-stranded rope. This way your puppy or dog can manage to swallow some, their digestive track will be able to break down the cotton. Also, being 100% cotton, you can simply through it through the washing machine to freshen it up on the regular. You only want a rope that is in the shape of a bone, knotted and lock stitched with waxed thread. A continuous circle knotted at the end would also work. The waxed thread prevents the cotton thread being broken down by saliva enzymes. You can see fancy lock stitch or whipping with waxed thread in the above image. A simple lock stitch would suffice though. These 2 basic designs promote durability and longevity in the rope toy by stopping unraveling.
Only use a rope that has a minimum diameter of 3/4″ and a length longer than 18″ in total length. This also ensures if a piece of the rope, an individual carrier, cannot get twisted in the digestive tract. Once you see one of the three strands begin to fray, the toy should be removed from your puppy or dog for safety reasons just like any other dog toy showing signs of wear.
As long as you get the right material and have certain safety measures in place, rope bones, tug-of-war rings are actually a very healthy choice as far as dog toys are considered, helping clean teeth and promote healthy gums. If you do play tug-of-war with your pooch, rope bones or tug rings are much safer on teeth and enamel than hard rubber which can also contain BPA chemicals as well. The all natural 100% unbleached, uncolored cotton 3 strand rope is natures’ best chew toy!
This is a Nylon/Ankerlene blend double braid rope bone dog toy, definitely not your best choice. You can see the ends have been melted to stop the core from separating from the cover and prevent unraveling. Natural materials will not melt, synthetic materials will melt.
KONG makes one of if not the best dog chew toys out there. KONG is also one of the few companies that use naturals dyes on their rope toys and also use only cotton rope but they do not use locking stitches. They do however place there knots under extreme pressure to lock them into place. KONG would be the only colored rope dog toy I would ever recommend to other Labrador Retrievers and other dog lovers.
Now if there is any rope dog toy I would call the best it would have to be the 6″ or 10″ Flossy Chews as these are made the exact same way as I used to make my rope bones. 100% all natural cotton, uncolored, unbleached, locking stitched, fully biodegradable and machine washable rope bone dog toys.
I hope this has helped you become a little more aware of the type of toys you purchase for your puppy and even consider the materials in which they are made from. One little thing to clear the air as I can already hear people going off about how you shouldn’t play tug-of-war with your puppies or dogs. Unfortunately, I am going to save that for another post in the near future. In the meantime, if you have any stories, experiences both positive and negative, regarding rope dog toys, or maybe you just have a question I maybe overlooked or did not cover in this post, please leave a comment down below. There will also be links to these posts on our Facebook page as well as our Google+ and Twitter accounts so be sure to check them out and give us a like.
Lastly, in the coming weeks, we will be launching a neat little section leading up to the spring season so be sure to enable notifications when joining our Facebook group which you can get to through the links on the sidebar. I wish you all the best and I will see you in Basic Training as that begins this weekend with the “come” command first. If you would like to get more great information like this, please join our FREE mailing list, just enter your information below for more tips, tricks, reviews and discounts on featured products. Don’t worry, your information is like fleas, we’ll make sure no one gets them. Remember to hug your Labrador today!!