When you welcome a new puppy into your family, you want them to feel safe, comfortable, and at home. But it’s an adaptation for the little guy or girl, especially if they spent the first few weeks of their lives sleeping next to their mother and littermates. They may miss their smell and the sound of their heartbeat, which they could do in the womb as well.
To make it easier for their pet to customize, some pet parents may investigate heartbeat toys.
“They are designed to feel like a heartbeat, so the puppy feels like it is close to mother or her littermates,” says Dr. Joanna Woodnutt, the in-house vet for DoggieDesigner.com.
However, there aren’t any studies that say they actually help, and Dr. Woodnutt has some concerns that heartbeat toys could cause more harm than good. She shared the pros and cons of dog heartbeat toys and other ways to make your new pup feel at home faster.
What are the benefits of heartbeat toys for puppies?
While there is no scientific evidence that heartbeat toys work in puppies, it can be anecdotal.
“Puppies have been in the same house since they were born,” says Dr. Woodnutt. “They were taken by their siblings, mothers and the place they all know on the same day. The idea is … to give them some consistency. “
There are benefits for pet parents too: if the puppy doesn’t cry at night, their parents will likely get more sleep, too.
Are There Downsides to Buying a Heartbeat Toy for Your Dog?
Dr. Woodnutt tends to avoid recommending pet heartbeat toys mainly because it’s a temporary solution.
“If you give the dog a toy and take it away, does it make separation anxiety worse?” Dr. Woodnutt wonders.
And not all of them can safely walk an unsupervised puppy.
“Some contain batteries or heat packs,” says Dr. Woodnutt. “They are not suitable for chewing.”
Check the label for safety warnings and don’t leave your puppy alone with battery-operated toys.
Other ways to make your new pup feel safe
Dr. Woodnutt thinks one of the best ways to help your pet feel safe is to properly exercise the crate.
“One thing I’ve always spoken out about is to find a breeder who is willing to try crate training before you bring him home. So by the time he comes into the house, he’s already used to it,” she says .
If you save it may not be an option. First, put the dog in the crate for a short time and give him a treat so that he can associate him with a positive experience. Gradually increase the time you leave in the box. Put the box in your room at night.
“That way they can see and hear you, and you can hear them,” says Dr. Woodnutt.
Here’s how to wean your puppy off a heartbeat toy
If your puppy is already using a heartbeat toy, you can wean yourself off of it.
“Take it slow and help them become less dependent on it,” says Dr. Woodnutt.
Dr. Woodnutt suggests taking it away during the day while you’re at home (possibly over a weekend) first.
“Take it away at night over time, but still let them have it while you’re away,” she says. “Build on the fact that they don’t have it at all.”