Choosing the Best Dog Toys - Plus Our Favorites!
Choosing toys for your dog may seem like a simple task, but with the countless number of products available today, you may easily become overwhelmed! Toys are not just entertainment for your dog; they provide an outlet for energy, keep her occupied when you aren’t around, and aid in her understanding of social behavior.
What toys do for your dog:
- Provide a distraction when you aren't home, thereby relieving boredom and keeping her from engaging in less desirable behaviors.
- Give an outlet for pent-up energy and natural chewing urges.
- Teach your dog what items are "ok" and what items are "off-limits" in your home.
- Allow you to reward your dog with something other than food/treats.
Choosing safe toys:
When shopping for enrichment objects, please limit your purchases to items that are made specifically for dogs. Generic stuffed toys, for example, can be filled with irritating fibers or small Styrofoam pieces that could be ingested, whereas those intended for dogs will not. If you have children in the house, avoiding plush toys altogether will prevent your dog from confusing their toys with her own.
Please supervise your dog! If a dog manages to chew off a piece of a toy and swallow it, she might have gastrointestinal problems, or choke, or sustain a mouth injury.
Be very careful of toys with squeakers! Some dogs are notorious for removing these quickly and swallowing them before their owners can remove them. Once you know that your dog does not like to do that, squeaky toys can be great entertainment for her (if also greatly irritating for you).
Think about your dog’s personality when choosing toys for her. If she carries around a pair of your socks like a priceless treasure, plush toys may be your best choice. If she spends endless hours trying to figure out how to get that last piece of food out from under the fridge, problem-solving toys may work. If she has strong chewing tendencies (which I'm sure you'll know!), well-built rubber toys may be your best bet.
Toys we recommend:
Kongs: Kongs come in a variety of sizes for dogs of all ages (there are specific Kongs for puppies and seniors!). This rubber toy has holes in both ends and can be stuffed with many yummy goodies, keeping your dog safely occupied! You can wedge biscuits in the hole, get more creative and use peanut butter/kibble combinations, or even freeze it full of chicken broth (great for summertime). The possibilities are endless and your dog will look forward to getting a scrumptious surprise every time she sees the Kong!
Our Favorite: Timed Kong Dispenser
Puzzle Balls: These are designed for mental stimulation as well as physical activity. You fill the ball with kibble or small treats and the rolling of the ball moves the kibble around inside the toy, eventually causing pieces to fall out. There are many of these toys on the market: some have different settings for dogs who quickly master this game.
Our Favorite: Tricky Treat Ball
Jolly Balls: These balls come in assorted sizes, have large handles for carrying and will hold up to tough chewing. They are very sturdy toys!
Our Favorite: 8 inch Tug N' Toss
Stuffies: Our word for any dog stuffed toy, these are good for dogs that don’t like to rip things apart. Dogs that enjoy stuffies usually love them and will baby their toy for as long as possible. Well-constructed stuffies will last for awhile- look for items with fewer seams, few or no small parts that will rip off accidentally, no dangling pieces, etc. Eli, our old Dogue de Bordeaux, loved his babies and would carry one around and chew on it gently for as long as it held up. Once something ripped, though, it was all over- he would pull all the stuffing out (he still wanted the shell though!)
Our Favorite: Puzzle Toy with Stuffies
For more great dog toys, check out our article:
8 Great (and druable) Dog Toys
Rawhide is cured cattle or pork hide. Pressed rawhide treats usually last longer than flat rawhide chips or rolled knotted bones. Most dogs find rawhide irresistible, but many dog owners and veterinarians have discovered problems with rawhide chews, including gastrointestinal issues and intestinal blockages. Also, as your dog chews and the rawhide softens, it can become lodged in his throat if he is a gulper. If you choose to give your dog rawhide you MUST supervise while she chews it. If she starts swallowing large pieces of the toy, remove and discard it at once. Be sure to only purchase rawhide made and cured in the U.S. Imported rawhide may contain ingredients that are harmful to your dog.
Whether new and exciting, or well-known and treasured, a toy is a wonderful (and low calorie!) substitute to only giving your dog treats. No matter how much your pup loves his toys, make sure you make his experience and interactive one. Toys are an addition to, not a substitution for, your company and companionship.