The Best Dog Toys:
Tips for Fun, Safe
Entertainment for Your Pooch
It’s no secret. Dogs love their toys! So, what are the best dog toys? Well, there is no simple answer to that question, since it all depends on the individual likes and requirements of your furry friend.
The Best Toys for Dogs Are:
- Personally Appealing to Your Dog!
Dog toys do much more than just entertain our canine companions. The best dog toys really are essential to our dogs’ physical, mental and emotional well-being.
Benefits of Dog Toys
- Alleviate boredom and separation anxiety
- Provide mental stimulation
- Discourage destructive behavior
- Serve as a positive outlet for pent-up physical energy
- Encourage socialization
- Exercise jaw muscles
- Increase the bond between you and your dog
- Promote dental health
There are many factors to consider when selecting dog toys for your playful pooch. Here are some tips to make sure the toys you choose are entertaining, appropriate and safe.
Tips for Choosing the Best Dog Toys
Where does your dog rate on the “chew meter”?
Some toys – such as plush toys and toys that can be easily torn or punctured – are not safe or suitable for strong chewers. I found this out quickly with my baby, Chase!
For powerful chewers, the best dog toys are those that are strong and durable enough to withstand aggressive chewing without tearing, puncturing, ripping, cracking, chipping, shredding or breaking. Make sure that your dog is not able to chew off pieces of the toy, as this can cause a choking or gastrointestinal danger (see our article on what to do for a
The best dog toys for aggressive chewers are made of ultra durable material such as solid rubber, which provide many hours of entertainment as well as exercising their jaws and mouth. Some of these toys can even be stuffed with treats, which is great for keeping the dog mentally and physically occupied while he tries to extract his favorite goodies from the toy.
Plus, you can keep your pooch interested by changing the stuffing that you use. There are many alternatives, including treats, kibble, peanut butter, mashed potatoes or mashed steamed carrots, raw foods, etc. You can control what you put in to make sure your dog is mentally challenged and that the reward he gets is healthy and nutritious.
Stuffable Toys Include:
Dogzilla Chew Toys protein and vanilla-scented chew toys (made of tough rubber that will exercise your dog’s jaw muscles)
Everlasting Treat Ball
If your pooch is the brainy type that prefers a little intellectual stimulation along with his treats, check out our article on some really cool
dog puzzle toys
. These canine brainteasers will be sure to get his little gray cells working!
There are also great toys for strong chewers that are not stuffable, but which are very durable and provide entertainment while also exercising their jaws.
Non-Stuffable Toys for Strong Chewers Include:
These chew toys are made of super durable nylon and come in many different shapes. They are sometimes flavored. Chase has had the same one for years and loves to chew on it every night before bed. These have done wonders at keeping Chase’s teeth clean from plaque. He always gets rave reviews at his check-ups and never needs dental cleanings! However, you might want to limit chewing time on these, and avoid them altogether if your dog has weak teeth, since these are extremely hard.
- Zogoflex Hurley
The Hurley is a very playful toy that bounces, bends, chews, and floats - and is great for hurling. It's made of a patented, state-of-the-art "dog material" called Zogoflex that is safe, durable, and made of recycled material. Zogoflex is non-toxic and latex-free, and will hold up to your dog's toughest play.
West Paw Zogoflex Hurley Large - Aqua Blue
Another type of toy you might want to consider for stronger chewers are
rope dog toys.
What are your dog’s temperament and activity level?
It didn’t take me long to learn that Chase’s penchant for chewing ruled out any plush toys or flimsy squeaky toys due to the hazards they posed. At the same time, I’ve seen many large dogs whose personalities lend them to gently “coddling” plush toys like they are cuddling a baby.
When selecting the best dog toys for your fur-kid, be sure to take his personality into account. Things you might want to consider are:
- Is he an aggressive chewer?
- Does he like to tear things apart?
- Does he like the experience of a high activity level, or does he prefer to be more calm?
- Is he a puppy that is teething and chewing on everything?
- Does he enjoy intense mental stimulation or is he happiest just chasing a ball?
- Do noises frighten him or does he find them interesting?
Chase’s favorite toy, for example, is a football-shaped squeaky toy covered in tennis ball fuzz. He just loves to walk around the house carrying it in his mouth and squeaking it. The noise apparently amuses him, plus he loves to play catch with it. By the same token, I have purchased Kongs and other more “stimulating” toys for Chase, and he has shown absolutely no interest in them at all.
Appropriate choices for your dog might range from a simple tennis ball (be sure to take it away as soon as it cracks or breaks) to a complex puzzle box that requires your dog to turn it in the right way with his paws, nose and mouth in order to retrieve the treats inside. If your dog is a swimmer, he might even enjoy a floating toy that he can retrieve in the water. An athletic dog might also enjoy a doggy Frisbee to retrieve.
The best dog toys for your individual pooch will be those that provide a level of durability, mental stimulation and physical activity that match his individual needs and preferences.
How big is your dog?
For fun and safety, you will want to make sure to choose toys that are appropriately sized for your pet. If a toy is too big or heavy for your pooch, he obviously will not enjoy it very much. On the other hand, toys that are too small pose a serious choking hazard.
An example of this is with balls. Be sure that the size you choose is large enough for your fur-kid. An inappropriately small ball can easily become lodged in a dog’s throat and cause him to choke. Completely avoid the small rubber “super balls”.
Does your dog have special needs
If your dog has any special needs, such as physical challenges, be sure to consider and accommodate these needs when selecting dog toys. Sight-impaired dogs, for example, will benefit from toys that emphasize the dog's senses of scent and hearing. Read our article for
tips on selecting the best dog toys for blind dogs
The Best Dog Toys are Safe Dog Toys
Here are some tips to help make your dog’s playtime as safe as it is entertaining:
- Don't choose toys with any small parts.
- Be sure the toy is durable enough for your dog’s chewing strength and level of play.
- Select appropriately-sized toys to avoid the potential for choking.
- If your dog likes to attack squeakers or pull out stuffing, avoid toys that contain these hazards.
- Make sure the toy is made specifically for dogs.
- If your dog tries to tear or shred the toy, replace it with a more durable choice.
- “Dog proof” the toys by removing any potential choking hazards, such as string, ribbons or buttons.
- Get rid of a toy as soon as it becomes broken, torn, chipped or damaged in any way.
Since even the best dog toys can pose a hazard in the paws of a determined pooch, be sure to monitor your dog’s play time before you allow him to spend time alone with any toy.
And, just like we wouldn’t want just one pair of shoes, don’t limit your pooch to just one type of toy! Mix it up with some variety, possibly ranging from a simple tennis ball to a treat- filled Kong. This will be sure to keep him mentally and physically engaged in his toys and avoid boredom.
If you just don't see yourself spending the money for a lot of different toys, you might try making your own. Our article on
easy to make dog toys
will give you some great ideas on making toys your dog will love with simple materials you can find around the house or buy from the craft store.
And remember… as entertaining as even the best dog toys are, they are not a substitute for your companionship. The most fun for your dog is when you and he play with his toys together!
A game of toss with a tennis ball or some “hide and seek” with a treat-stuffed toy is a great bonding experience, as well as lots of fun. Plus, not only will your dog get exercise from it – so will you!
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