How To Choose The Right Dog Toys

Everyone loves dog toys. The romping, the chomping, and even some good old fashioned fetching. Dog toys are a blast for pets, but for owners, choosing the right ones can be a tough decision. Let's get right to it!

What Are The Right Dog Toys For Your Pet?

Many factors contribute to the success of a dog toy. Dog toys should be safe, fun, durable, and most of all, fun.

Many of those factors, however, are completely dependent upon your dog’s size, activity level, and personal preference. Another factor to be considered is the environment in which your dog spends his time. Although we can’t guarantee your dog’s enthusiasm or his safety with any specific toy, we can offer the following advice.

How To Make Safe Dog Toy Choices

The things that are usually the most attractive to dogs are often the very things that are the most dangerous. For example, some companies are selling dog toys that require your dog to push a long lever to receive treats. Avoid this type of toy as it poses a potential danger to your dog’s eyes. Sharp, pointy objects are always a bad idea when it comes to dog toys. 

Also, dog-proof your home by checking for string, ribbon, rubber bands, children’s toys, pantyhose and anything else that could be ingested. Now that we have safety out the way, let's have some fun!

Make Sure They Are The Perfect Size

All Dog Toys should be appropriate for your dog’s current size. For example, balls should be large enough to carry, but not too small. Balls and other toys that are too small can easily be swallowed or become lodged in your dog’s mouth or throat. Avoid or alter any toys that aren’t “dog-proof” by removing ribbons, strings, eyes, or other parts that could be chewed and/or ingested.

Soft & Squeaky Dog Toys Are Fine For Gentler Dogs

Our dog Daisy loved to carry around her plush toys. She was gentle with them and would never rip them apart.

However, many dogs do like to play rough with their plush toys. If your dog likes to “rip apart” his or her toys, take note of any toy that contains a “squeaker” buried in its center. Your dog may feel that he must find and destroy the squeak-source and could ingest it, in which case squeaking objects should be “supervision only” toys.

Recently, several stuffing free dog toys have come out and these are new fan favorites. Remember that soft toys are not indestructible, but some are sturdier than others. Soft toys should be machine washable since they are likely to get dirty and slobbery with all that playtime.

 

Avoid Rawhide Type Dog Toys - They're Dangerous!

We do not recommend using rawhides or rawhide type toys. Rawhides soften when chewed and can become stuck in a dog’s throat.

High Energy Dogs Like Active Dog Toys

Very hard rubber dog toys are great for high energy pets. These are available in a variety of shapes and sizes and are fun for chewing and for carrying around. Rope toys are always big hits with dogs that like to play fetch. Tennis balls make great dog toys, but keep an eye out for any that could be chewed through and discard them immediately if they are cracked.

Treat Toys And Puzzle Toys Are Great For Smart Dogs

Dog treat toys, especially when filled with broken-up Dog Treats or, even better, a mixture of broken-up treats and peanut butter. The right size dog treat toy can keep a puppy or dog busy for hours. Only by chewing diligently can your dog access the treats, and then only in small bits – very rewarding! Double-check with your veterinarian about whether or not you should give peanut butter to your dog.

Puzzle dog toys work best for super-smart pets and canines that get bored easily. With puzzle toys, treats are hidden inside compartments, and your pooch has to figure out how to get them. You can find these toys at a variety of skill levels. Once your pet figures out one level, move on to harder skill levels. As a dog owner, these can be hilarious to watch!

Nina Ottoson Brick Dog Toy


Above: The Nina Ottosson Brick Puzzle Dog Toy is a favorite of smart dog's worldwide.

Comfort Dog Toys Are Great For All Dogs

Soft stuffed toys are good for several purposes but are not appropriate for all dogs. For some dogs, the stuffed toy should be small enough to carry around. For dogs that want to shake or “kill” the toy, it should be the size that “prey” would be for that size dog (mouse-sized, rabbit-size or duck-size). Again, make sure that if your dog likes to attack his stuffed animal, that his play is closely supervised, and avoid soft toys with squeakers.

Rotate To Get The Most Out Of Their Collection

Rotate your dog’s toys weekly by making only four or five toys available at a time. Keep a variety of types easily accessible. If your dog has a huge favorite, like a soft “baby,” you should probably leave it out all the time, or risk the wrath of your dog! 

Provide toys that offer a variety of uses – at least one toy to carry, one to “kill”, one to roll and one to “baby.” “Hide and Seek” is also a fun game for dogs to play. “Found” toys are often much more attractive than a toy that is blatantly introduced. Making an interactive game out of finding toys or treats is a good “rainy-day” activity for your dog, using up energy without the need for a lot of space.

Many of your dog’s toys should be interactive. Interactive play is very important for your dog because he needs active “people time.” By focusing on a specific task, like repeatedly returning a ball or playing “hide-and-seek” with treats or toys, your dog can expel pent-up mental and physical energy in a limited amount of time and space. This greatly reduces stress due to confinement, isolation and/or boredom.

 For young, high-energy and untrained dogs, interactive play also offers an opportunity for socialization and helps them learn about appropriate and inappropriate behavior with people and with other animals, like jumping up or being mouthy. 

If your pet is ready to take their toy game to the next level, check out our article Beating Boredom: Choosing The Best Interactive Dog Toys. Looking for some gift ideas for your best pal? Read our Top Five Dog Gift Ideas. With just a little bit of research, you'll find the dog toys that your pet will love to interact with. Who wants to play?