With so many dog toys on the market it’s hard to know which ones will be best for your dog. Play is an important part of growing up and it provides important mental stimulation for dogs. Not all dogs are highly motivated by toys and that’s OK, they might just need a little more encouragement. You just need to find a toy that pushes their buttons and that they feel comfortable with.
Other dogs love toys so much that they destroy them in seconds and it’s impossible to find a toy that lasts. This guide will provide you will all you need to know about dog toys, and provide you with the information to enable you to select the best toys for your dog.
Getting Your Dog Started With Toys
Before you start buying dog toys you need to think about what type of dog you have. Consider the following things:
Breed – what type of toys might go well with the breed characteristics? For example Collies may like retrieval games.
Size – Is your dog toy, small, medium or large? You need to buy toys that are the right size for them.
Mouth size – How big is your dog’s mouth? Make sure you select a toy that they can easily get their teeth around.
Age – How old is your dog? Older dogs may not have as much energy for some of the more demanding toys. Young pups may be more interested in things they can chew to help them get through their teething stage.
Different Types Of Toys
You can get toys that are specifically made for young pups who need to learn how to play properly and burn some energy. For example puppy kong toys that are smaller and more suitable to juvenile dogs.
(Almost) Indestructible Toys
If you have a dog that likes to destroy everything, including all their toys then you need something extremely tough. It’s almost impossible to find unbreakable dog toys but there are some that will last a lot longer. Toys such as Nylabone dog chews are built to last. Some of the more durable toys tend to be a bit more pricey but it’s worth it in the long run as you get much more use out of them.
Some toys are made to satisfy your dog’s urge to chew. They can provide hours of fun for your dog and they also help to keep their teeth clean and healthy. It’s always useful to have a few chew toys your dog can chomp on instead of your furniture!
Kongs are great because they are very durable and you can hide treats inside them for your dog to try and get. There a loads of different Kongs to try including classic, dental and genius toys. Load your Kong up with treats and watch your dog enjoy playing with it and trying to get the treats out.
Some dogs are highly motivated by retrieval games and love playing with retrieval toys. If your dog loves to fetch then you are in luck, there are lots of fun retrieval toys for them to chase after. You can get balls, ropes, frisbees and flying rings that all provide plenty of entertainment.
Tug Of War Toys
Tugs of war toys are toys that your dog can grip onto with their teeth and pull while you hold them. They are excellent for releasing energy and can be great fun. However, owners should be careful with tug of war as dogs need to be taught how to play tug of war safely and not be aggressive in any way. Tug of war can also be played between two friendly dogs.
Many dogs absolutely adore a squishy soft toy that they can chew on, cuddle up to or fetch. Some dogs can destroy these toys in seconds but others will keep them for a long time and enjoy gently playing with them. If your dog chews through the soft toy and starts breaking it apart take it off them in case they swallow the stuffing or parts of the toy.
Dogs simply can’t resist loud, squeaky dog toys. Dogs get satisfaction from the noise the toy makes when they chew on it. It’s not so much fun for us humans though. There are some toys with silent squeakers that only dogs can hear for people that find the squeaky noises a bit too much.
What Are Toys Good For?
One of the best things that dog toys is good for is getting rid of boredom. If dogs are left on their own for long periods or do not get much interaction then can become very bored. Toys can give them something fun to do which will help distract them and keep them occupied for a period of time.
Toys As Rewards
Different dogs are motivated by different things when it comes to training. Some dogs are mainly food orientated and will do anything for a treat, whereas others prefer to be rewarded with their favourite toy. You can use toys to reward your dog during training sessions and to reward them for good behaviour.
Mimicking Natural Behaviours
Dogs need to be able to behave naturally and exercise their inborn abilities in some way. Some toys give dogs the opportunity to do this. Toys can help encourage dogs to mimic natural behaviours such as chasing, retrieving, playing and scenting.
When your dog is playing with their toys they are burning energy. Certain toys provide more exercise for dogs than others but most toys will give dogs the chance to burn some pent up energy.
As mentioned at the beginning of this guide, toys are particularly important for mental stimulation. Dogs need to use their mind and be able to engage in tasks that actively engage their brains.
The more you play with your dog the stronger your bond will be. Lots of dogs love interaction with their owners. Some dogs are even more motivated by toys that involve their owners, not just toys that they can play with on their own. Playing with your dog is a brilliant way to spend quality time together.
Learning How To Play
Learning how to play safely is an important part of growing up for dogs. They need to learn to be gentle and play safely with humans but also how far to push the limits when playing with other dogs.
What games can my dog play using toys?
Here are some ideas of games to play using toys to get you started:
- Tug of war
- Find the toy
- Fetching specific toys
- Put your toys away
- Which box is the toy hidden in
- Catch the ball
- Find the treat in the toy
What if my dog starts guarding toys?
If your dog places too much value on their toys they can start to guard them. Dogs can sometimes be quite possessive of their toys, particularly ones they are very fond of. They may not be willing to share their toys with other dogs. If your dog shows any sign of aggression or becomes too possessive of a particular toy then take it off them (if it is safe to do so).
How can I encourage safe play?
Safe play should be encouraged from a young age. Try and teach your dog to ‘drop’ and ‘give’ their toys on command. Encourage your dog to be gentle when playing with toys, especially when playing with people.
How often should my dog play?
As much as they want. Try and play with your dog regularly by setting aside a bit of time each day for them to have some fun. Occasionally dogs can become overstimulated or get too excited by toys and may need some time out from playing.