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A few months ago, I officially became a “co-pet parent” to a long-haired miniature dachshund. Although his protective nature and territorial ways can lead to a lot of barking (sometimes I’m sure he barks simply when the wind blows), overall, he’s very well-behaved. It’s hard to resist the temptation to spoil him.

Whenever I’m at the grocery store or stopping by the pet store for necessities, I can’t help but wander down the toy aisle to see what small treat I can buy for him. Usually I stop myself from actually purchasing — he has plenty of toys as it is, and most of them are quite worn. But occasionally, when I find something the right size (and, let me be honest, the right amount of quirky — these are dog toys after all), I can’t help but indulge the little guy. It’s all worth the excitement he shows when he hears the sound of a new squeak.

Although some toys are on the pricy side, I’ve found good luck with cheaper options at the local grocery store. In fact, two of those have remained (relatively) in tact far longer than more expensive toys I bought him early on.

Are you a pet parent? How do you save money on toys and other treats?

Audience Development Editor at The Penny Hoarder

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I have a senior chihuahua so his toys and treats last long! I buy healthy treats in bulk and give him small pieces. He loves it when I place his treats in a puzzle toy which keeps him occupied. I’ll also get him baked treats from coffee shops. He only plays with his stuffed toys for a few minutes, so I don’t buy too many of those. He also likes the squeak sound! Any gently used toys that he ignores completely are donated to the animal shelter. He really loves burrowing in fluffy blankets, which can be pricey!

We don't. We are on our sixth dog, always larger breeds, and to date have lived with 3 Goldens, 1 Lab, 1 Setter and 1 Husky, with minimal overlapping. We shop the bargain bins at the local pet store or check out garage sales for stuffed animals which can be had for $.25 to $1. Another source is second-hand stores, such as Value Village or Goodwill. With stuffed animals, we run the toy through the wash before giving it to the dogs. (No, we're not germ-o-phobes, just a little protective). Regarding treats, we don't skimp, our 4 legged family member's health is at stake. Plenty of exercise is rule #1.

My dog's favorite toy was simply a rubber ball placed in a knee high cotton white sock. He loved to tug at it when I would playfully try to get it away from him. I could bounce it and he would jump to catch it all while I had it in my hand on one end. When I did throw it we never had to go looking for it as socks don't roll. It makes me laugh to think of him bringing me his sock toy. Eventually we could swing him in a circle as he held on so tight. And yes he would growl and act all tough. He looked like Benji and would spend half the night with my mother and then with sleepy eyes cross the hall and finish up with my dad. I was stupid and got some hamsters not remembering that his breed was raised to kill rodents. I thought I could train him. He didn't sleep with the "rodent lover" but we got along. Every day he would get so excited when the mailman came and we later found out he was delivered one treat every day. My dad traveled by car 3 days a week and he loved to go along and ride. He lived for 15 years and if there is a doggy heaven I know he will be catching that ball in a sock.

I've always been cautious of dog toys, especially of rubber and rawhide. The parts can get caught in the digestive track. That can lead to a blockage or even death. I choose to give my yellow lab treats / toys  made from rice flower or beef jerky made for people. He can share with my wife! My smaller dogs, I gave boiled soup bones from the butcher. The bones were too big for them to chew and break or splinter. The dogs spent hours attempting to lick all of the marrow out of the bones,  My yellow lab could probably break them. Nothing beats taking them for a walk. It does them good and would probably do you some good, as well! Most of my dogs have lived to be over twenty years old.  I must be doing something right. Good luck with your buddy and remember nothing replaces love!

My grandfather said "Children and pets are a millstone around your neck" but I would be lost without my millstones. So would have my grandfather My wife and I have missed cruises and other vacations because we did not trust  others to take care of our "baby" . He is a 15yr. old yellow lab. A week of fun doesn't compare to a decade of love. My wife and I talked over starting a family, shortly after getting married. My wife wanted kids. I wanted dogs. Twenty years later, my wife decided I was right. 

Toss your wife and your dog in the trunk of your car and drive around for a couple of hours. Open the trunk and see who is happy to see you.

Good luck and I hope you get a "millstone" that will love you as much as you love it.

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