The right kind of dog toys help fight boredom when you have to leave your dog at home and they provide comfort when they’re feeling nervous. Toys can even help prevent your dog from developing bad behaviors.
We all know dogs are usually ready to play with anything they can get their teeth on. That means you need to keep track of your dog's playtime to prevent any negative results.
Ensure the toys you give your dog are safe.
Many factors relate to the safety of a toy, and some of them depend upon your dog's size, activity level and preferences.
The things most attractive to dogs are often the very things that are the most dangerous. Start by dog-proofing your home by removing string, ribbon, rubber bands, children's toys, pantyhose and other items that could be swallowed.
Be sure to buy toys of appropriate size for your dog. Toys that are too small can easily be swallowed or become lodged in your dog's throat.
Supervise your dog's play with squeaky toys. They love the noise but your dog may want to find and destroy the source of the squeaking, which means they could swallow it if left alone.
Remove any parts of toys that could be chewed off and ingested. Discard toys when they start to break into pieces or are torn. Check labels on stuffed toys to see they are labeled as safe for children under three years of age.
Also see they don't contain any dangerous fillings like nutshells and polystyrene beads. Remember soft toys are not indestructible, but some are sturdier than others.
Quality dog toys that might be perfect for your pet.
There are some toys for your dog that just need to be part of their day. These selections form the basis of healthy and happy play time for your dog.
A Few More Doggone Toy Tips
Fast facts about rawhide
Are you thinking about giving your dog rawhide chew toys? Be sure to check with your veterinarian about which ones are safe and appropriate for your dog. Some may pose choking hazards, so give them to your dog only when you can supervise them.
Some rawhides on the market are byproducts of the cruel international fur trade. You might consider an alternative, consider toys made of very hard rubber, which are safer and last longer.
Toys that keep your dog active and engaged
Hard rubber toys such as Nylabone® and Kong®-type products come in many shapes and sizes. They are fun for chewing and carrying around.
For dogs that like tug-of-war and chewing on interesting textures, rope and woven toys are usually available in a "bone" shape with knotted ends.
Tennis balls make great dog toys for fetching, but don’t stand up to chewing very well. Discard any tennis balls that have been chewed through, as they can pose a choking hazard to your pet. There are lots of alternatives for getting your dog busy fetching.
Toys of distraction
Kong®-type toys, especially when filled with broken-up treats, can keep a puppy or dog busy for hours.
"Busy-box" or "feeder" toys are large rubber shapes that can be filled with treats. Your dog can get to the goodies by moving the cube around with their nose, mouth and paws. Many dogs who tend to eat their food too quickly benefit from being fed through a feeder-style toy.
Soft comfort toys are not for every dog
Soft stuffed toys are good for several purposes, but they aren't appropriate for all dogs. Here are a few tips for choosing the right stuffed toy:
- Some dogs like to carry around soft toys. If your dog sees their toy as a companion, pick one that's small enough to carry.
- Some dogs want to shake or "kill" their toys, so choose one that's large enough to prevent accidental swallowing and sturdy enough to withstand the dog’s attacks.
- Dirty laundry, such as an old t-shirt, pillowcase, towel or blanket, can be very comforting to a dog, especially if the item smells like you! Be prepared to see them destroyed by industrious fluffing, carrying and chewing.
How to make you dog’s toys last longer
Rotate your dog's toys weekly by limiting the number of toys available at a time. Keep a variety of types easily accessible. If your dog has a favorite, like a soft comfort toy they won’t destroy, you may want to leave it out all the time.
Provide toys that serve a variety of purposes — give your dog at least one toy to carry, one to shake, one to roll and one for comfort.
Putting “accidentally found" toys can be more attractive for your dog than toys that are handed over by you. A game of finding toys or treats is a good rainy-day activity for your dog. It uses up energy without the need for a lot of space. The same can be true for treats.
Many of your dog's toys should be interactive. Interactive play is very important for your dog because they need active "human time." This helps to enhance the bond between you and your pet. Try balls, flying disks and other toys that help connect you and your pet.
There's Nothing Better Than Dog and People Play Time
It’s always good to focus on a specific task —such as repeatedly returning a ball, Kong, or Frisbee® or playing "hide-and-seek" with treats or toys. These activities help to use up pent-up mental and physical energy from boredom with limited time and space.
Interactive play also offers an opportunity for socialization for young, high-energy and untrained dogs. It helps them learn about appropriate and inappropriate behavior, such as jumping up or making too much noise.