Playing and chewing are natural canine behaviors.
Though some dogs will play or chew more than others, dog toys are essential items for all dogs.
In fact, behavior problems can develop when dogs do not have the proper outlets to follow their instincts which brings me to the 2 most common questions outside of pet nutrition.
- What toy will last the longest?
- What toy will get my dog top stop chewing on everything?
Although I don’t actually have 1 answer to suit every dog’s chew toy needs, I do have quite a few questions of my own to ask in order to guide us through the toy section together and help you decide which toy will suit your dogs pawsonality.
For starters, there are quite a few more that stem off this once you are in the store…
- What is your pets chewing behaviour?
- Have you noticed a toy that was more of a favorite, babied more than others?
- Is there a toy perhaps your pet slept with?
- Is there a a toy sought out at the beginning of the day?
- Perhaps a toy your pet welcomes you home with or good night routine?
The common Dog Toys to consider
THE OLD STAND-BY DOG TOY – BALLS
A ball toy is a must-have for any dog that loves to fetch. Ball toys come in many varieties, from the basic tennis ball or rubber ball to glow-in-the-dark and flashing-light balls. Some balls contain squeakers or holes for treats, while others are basic bouncers meant for retrieving. Try a product like Chuckit! to allow you to throw balls further and for slobber-free ball handling.
When choosing a ball for your dog, pick one that is large enough for your dog to carry without accidentally swallowing it. The basic tennis-ball size works fine for most dogs, but there are also extra-large balls for giant dogs and mini balls for tiny dogs. In general, avoid leaving tennis balls around for your dog to chew on.
Material in tennis balls can cause the teeth to wear down and pieces can lead to choking or gastrointestinal obstruction if ingested. I have come across a case where the dogs favorite toy was the tennis balls from the hardware store. This pooch loved to pick all the fur off, unfortunately after a pretty hefty vet bill we learned that the fuzz can actually collect in dogs lungs causing some pretty serious issues.
DISCS AND OTHER RETRIEVING DOG TOYS
Dogs that love balls and playing fetch also tend to enjoy discs and other retrieval toys. The disc is a bit more versatile than a ball when it comes to fetching, as you can vary the speed of the disc and cause it to change direction, further challenging your dog. There is even a dog sport that involves disc retrieval. Other retrieving dog toys, such as the Hurley by West Paw give your dog a uniquely shaped toy to fetch. They may be made of rubber, plastic, rope or another material.
PLUSH DOG TOYS
Many dogs adore plush toys. They will carry them around like babies or tear them apart like prey. Stuffed dog toys usually contain squeakers and poly-fill. Dogs often rip into them and stuffing goes everywhere. Many dogs seem to be trying to “kill” their “prey” by destroying the squeaker. After the toy is “dead” they still sometimes carry them around and shake them. Supervise your dogs when they play with plush toys to keep her from swallowing stuffing or squeakers, which can lead to GI obstruction. If you are not fond of cleaning up the stuffing from your dog’s plush toys, try a stuffing-free toy like Skinneeez. These are basically the outside of stuffed toys with squeakers but no stuffing. Plush toys will not last long with aggressive chewers, but can still be plenty of fun (with supervision). Some companies make extra tough plush toys for longer lasting chew time, such as Kong Ballistic.
SQUEAKIES (NON-PLUSH) DOG TOYS
Non-plush squeaky toys come in many shapes and sizes. Typically, they are made out of vinyl, rubber or plastic. Durability varies, so choose wisely according to your dog’s chewing habits. Generally, thick rubber is best for aggressive chewers. Thinner vinyl or plastic toys are better for mild chewers or if you will be supervising play at all times. The benefit of thinner squeaky toys is that they are often very inexpensive. The downside is that they don’t typically last very long.
ROPE DOG TOYS
Rope toys are made of braided rope and sometime have rubber or plastic parts. They can be used for fetch, tug-of-war or simply chewing. Many dogs love rope toys, while other have no interest. The action of chewing on a rope toy can actually be good for your dog’s teeth as it creates a brushing-like action. However, aggressive chewers can easily shred rope toys and may ingest pieces. This can lead to serious gastrointestinal obstruction. Never let your dog play with rope toys unsupervised. When your rope toy begins to unravel, it’s time to throw it away.
TUG DOG TOYS
Many dogs enjoy playing tug-of-war. It’s a healthy display of a dog’s predatory nature, plus its great mental and physical exercise. There are many types of tug toys on the market in various shape, sizes and materials. Often seen are tug toys made of rope and/or rubber. Choose a tug toy that is comfortable for you to hold in your hand and pull on, as well as easy for your dog to bite and pull on. In addition, tug toys should be durable enough to hold up to the strength of your dog’s pulling. Replace worn or fraying tug toys so they do not break in the middle of a game of tug-of-war and hurt someone.
FLOATING DOG TOYS
Floating toys are great for dogs that love swimming. Usually made of a foam, rubber or plastic material, floating balls, rings and other toys are easy for your dog to find and grab in the water.
FOOD DISPENSING DOG TOYS
Food and treat dispensing dog toys should be in every dog’s household. They offer fun, mental stimulation, and are great way for dogs to funnel their energy. Food dispensing dog toys come in various shapes and sizes and are usually made of rubber or plastic. Perhaps the most popular of all food dispensing dog toys is the Kong, which can be filled with treats, kibble, peanut butter and other foods and can provide hours of fun for your dog. Of course all of you amazing pet parents are keeping in mind the amount of treats (or calories) your dog eats with these toys. There is quite a few health wise treats perfectly sized for these types of toys as well as a healthy Dogs Butter product available to ensure we are keeping playtime healthy.
Finally, it is very important to remember that all toys can pose a risk if your dog ingests them, so play should be supervised, especially with aggressive chewers. No matter how durable a toy seems, there is still a possibility that pieces can be chewed off and ingested.
Oh and 1 more really important piece of advice, get to know your independent community pet store. Bring in your pooch so they can get to know you as a family. It helps us give you proper advice, and suggest special items we can our order that may suit you specifically. As we get to grow together we will help you keep our pets the happiest and healthiest years to come.