Not all dogs get to live with other dogs or pets, and not many owners can be around a lot, so pet dogs can enjoy and appreciate a plush companion. Some dogs like them squeaky, some – stuffed, and some – soft and snuggly. Try out a few and see which one becomes your dog’s BFF.
Apart from the intellectual benefits mentioned earlier, these toys can be useful for dogs who tend to eat too fast or overeat. Essentially, you can feed your dog an entire meal using these. Look for something that’s reasonably big and easy to clean, with a few features and moveable parts that will keep your dog engaged throughout a meal.
What to consider when choosing toys
Size of your dog
How does the dog’s size affect your choice of toys? Safety is one of the aspects. Make sure that any toys offered to your dog cannot be swallowed or get stuck in their throat. Generally, when your dog is holding a toy and one or more parts of the toy are sticking out of the dog’s mouth, the toy should be reasonably safe. If it’s a ball, it’s important to find the balance between it being small enough to carry vs. big enough to not be swallowed. Another aspect is durability: if your dog is small and gentle, a lot of toys will last them a while. For big dogs, opt for sturdy toys made of safe materials that won’t easily crumble or break off pieces when exposed to aggressive dog bites.
Pay attention to the materials your dog’s toys are made of. Not all toys humans find attractive are safe for dogs, so try to keep toys free from small decorative items that can be chewed off (small tassels, plastic eyes and noses, zippers, sequins, etc.) For soft toys, check what the filler is made of. Choose toys without filler if your dog tends to rip them open. Supervise your dog playing with any new toy to decide whether that toy is safe for them to play alone. If you’re not sure about whether a certain toy is safe for your dog or not, do check with a vet.
How to make dog toys last
Rotate your dog’s toys
Toy rotation can be done on a weekly basis or however frequently your dog gets tired of playing with the same toys. Put out one toy of each category and store away the rest. This helps your dog get the best out of focusing on one toy for a while, without being distracted by too many options to choose from. It also helps you keep your house tidy as few toys can be easily picked up and put in a toy basket or other open storage accessible to your dog.
Use toys as part of training and socialization
Playtime with your dog is a great opportunity to train them as well as socialize. A bored dog might end up destroying a few toys just because it doesn’t know any better and can’t figure out what else to do with them. But, for example, teaching your dog to play tug-of-war helps reinforce a few useful commands as well as gives your dog a chance to practice being obedient followed by a reward. Hence, playtime won’t be so much about the toy itself (and whether or not it can be destroyed) but about interacting with a human and developing social skills.
Avoid toys with parts similar to home items
Toys that have parts very similar to your home items (say, tassels on a toy that resemble tassels on your carpet) might lead your dog to believe that it’s okay to play with those home items as well. Since home items aren’t usually made to withstand biting, chewing, and tugging, they might easily get damaged by a dog. However attractive and well-designed some of the toys might be, make sure they don’t remind your dog of anything valuable that shouldn’t be played with.