Dog Toy Guide

One of the best things about pet ownership is watching your furry friend’s face light up when you give them a brand new toy! If you’ve ever felt intimidated by the never ending toy options at the pet store, you’re not alone! However, choosing the right type of toy isn’t as difficult as you think. Whether you are a new pet owner or have had pets all your life, purchasing the right toys for your four-legged friends can keep them safe and guarantee they are getting the most out of playtime. Also learn about enrichment activities and why they are important in keeping your pet’s mind active!

Chewing and playing are both natural instincts for dogs, so toys serve a purpose much more than just entertainment! If dogs do not have access to toys, there is a risk that they may develop behavioral problems. The dog toy aisle can be overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be! Keep reading to determine which option is best for your dog. 

Plush Toys and Chew Toys: 

It seems as if stuffed toys stand out on the shelves with fun food themes such as sprinkled donuts or the all too realistic stuffed squirrel. Sometimes, these types of toys are usually carried around by your dog as their “baby,” and sometimes they can serve as their “prey.” Either way, monitoring your dog while they play with these toys can prevent them from ingesting the stuffing or choking on the squeaker. If your pet seems to chew their plush toy to shreds, opt for an extra tough plush or a rubber squeaky toy with no stuffing. They also have “stuff-less” toys that are just the outer fabric. 

Retrieval Toys:

Have a dog that loves fetch or just needs to get their energy out? Choosing the right type of tennis ball for your dog to enjoy isn’t difficult. Make sure it isn’t small enough for them to swallow but not too big for them to hold in their mouth. Generally, the average tennis ball will work for most dogs, but there are giant sizes for large dogs and mini sizes for tiny dogs. Try not to leave tennis balls out for your dog to chew on freely as their teeth can get worn down from the material tennis balls are made of or they could choke from chewed-off pieces. Rubber balls are also an excellent option and are easy to clean. If you and your fetch partner want something a bit more challenging, try a frisbee! A frisbee or similar retrieval toy is ideal for challenging your pup as the speed and direction can be varied. It’s good to know that smooth balls such as lacrosse balls are never recommended as they can get stuck in the throat and can’t be grasped to be pulled out. 

Rope/Tug Toys:

Braided rope toys are usually made from rope and rubber plastic parts. These toys are perfect for fetching, tug-of-war, or just as a chew toy. Playing tug-of-war can promote mental and physical exercise as it brings out your dog’s natural predatory nature. Don’t ever let your dog play with these rope toys unsupervised as they may accidentally eat shredded pieces of the rope or plastic. If you feel that your rope toys become frayed too quickly from rough play, try a rubber tug toy instead. 

Enrichment For Your Dog

Combining enrichment activities with playtime is recommended to keep your pet’s mind sharp! It’s a great way to engage all of their senses and give them something fun to look forward to. 

The infamous Kong toy is no doubt a fan favorite among dogs, although there are various brands that make similar toys. These rubber toys come in all shapes and sizes so dogs of every size can enjoy them! Try freezing some plain yogurt or soft dog food to fill the toy with, or watch your dog go nuts over some peanut butter! This type of interactive toy will stimulate your dog’s mind with a tough yet delicious challenge. 

Dog puzzles are the perfect interactive toy that promotes problem solving and keeps your dog’s mind stimulated, and there are a variety of puzzles on the market to choose from! You can also DIY a puzzle by making use out of old scraps or household items! Grab a muffin tin and round up some tennis balls to create your own puzzle! Place the tennis balls inside the tin with a treat underneath and watch your dog go to work uncovering them. You can also fill a cardboard box with shredded paper, toilet paper rolls, egg cartons…etc. and hide treats inside. Watch your dog sniff through the obstacles to get to the treats!

Further Reading:

Dog Toy Styles

Enrichment for Dogs

Enrichment Treats for Dogs

Enrichment Treats Cookbook

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