Playing is very important for our pets, not only for learning but also to strengthen the bond with us. Most of the times we have the false belief that dogs have to play first among them and then, if they want, with us.
In my humble opinion it should be the other way around. I am one of those who believe that after having spent the day at home, charging their batteries, first our pet has to play with. Then once we've played for a while and enjoyed one another, if we want we could take our dog to the park to play with other dogs. This way, we can really bond with our dogs when they most need it.
As for toys, it is not uncommon for them to only last few hours as our dogs destroy them. We should see the toys as one of the ways to enjoy our best friends by interacting with each other. When we are done playing we should store the toys away. If we just leave the toys our dogs will not play with them, but most of the times just bite and destroy them.
Regarding the hygiene of the toys, it is a good idea to wash them every now and then. Most of the toys can be washed in the washing machine for many times without any problem. It is especially important to clean the toys after playing in places with soil, as the soil can be very harmful for their teeth.
Finally, it is not recommended to let our dogs play with rocks or to bite wood sticks. Not only can this damage significantly the teeth but the little pieces of wood can stick to their mouth or throat causing wounds and infections.
In conclusion, we should dedicate time daily to enjoy our pets and play with them. It is not the amount of time that counts but the quality of the game.
Mario Hernandez: Dog trainer