What do dogs like to play with, and how can you choose the best toys for your pup?
Dog ownership comes with lots of decisions, from the right type of dog collar to the best types of dog toys. Deciding what's best can seem overwhelming with so many options available, but doing a little research helps you sort through all the options you'll find at your favorite pet store.
Picking the right dog toy is about more than entertaining your dog. Good toys help your furry family member get exercise and mental stimulation.
Dog toy safety is another important concern for pet parents. Some dog toys have lingering dangers that can cause choking and digestive issues.
Use these tips for picking toys your dog will love and can play with safely.
Consider Your Dog's Age
Is your canine still a puppy, or have you passed into the mature dog phase? Age can affect the types of toys your dog enjoys. It's also a safety consideration.
Puppies chew almost non-stop, so you need toys that can handle that chewing while being gentle on baby teeth. Soft rubber and plush fabric toys are ideal. Hard rubber toys can be tough on baby teeth while your puppy is still in the chewing phase.
Puppies usually finish teething around 6 months old. At that point, they can handle tougher toys, including hard rubber items and rope pull toys.
Choose the Correct Size
The size of a dog toy affects how well your dog can play with it and how safe it is to use. A toy that's too large for smaller dogs is difficult to bite or get into their mouths. Toys that are too small become a choking hazard if your dog accidentally swallows them.
Balls especially present a choking hazard because they're round and can get lodged in the esophagus. Tennis balls are generally safe unless you have a larger breed. If you have a large dog, you may need to buy extra-large balls to prevent accidental swallowing.
A toy's thickness should also be a consideration. Extra-thick toys can be difficult for a small dog to bite.
Research the Manufacturer
Pet toys don't have to meet any regulatory requirements, meaning you don't know what you're getting when you buy a toy. It may look safe, but the manufacturer may care more about visual appeal and cheap products than safety.
Research pet toy manufacturers to find ones that align with your standards. Visit the company's website to check out their values and find out where they manufacture their products. Check for recalls on the brand to see if they've had issues in the past as well as objective third-party reviews for honest opinions.
Once you find trusted brands that fit your preferences, stick with those companies for future toy purchases. Check periodically to make sure there aren't any new recalls.
Consider Your Dog's Play Style
You know your pup best. Consider your dog's personality and play style when choosing toys. Most dogs enjoy balls, tug toys, and plush toys, but your dog may have a preference for one type of toy over another.
If your dog likes to run and fetch, stock up on balls, discs, and other toys you can toss. If your pup is more of a sit and play type of dog, consider plush or squeaky toys that are fun to chew.
Base your toy selection on past toy purchases. Think about the types of toys your dog responded to well in the past and try to find similar yet slightly different options.
Choose a Variety of Types of Dog Toys
Toys keep your dog entertained and serve as enrichment. That mental stimulation can make your dog happier and reduce destructive behaviors. Having a variety of toy types on hand keeps your pet interested.
Instead of leaving all toys out all the time, have a hidden toy storage area. Bring out a few toys at a time. When your pup gets bored with those, swap them out for something different to hold your dog's interest.
Watch for Dyes and Chemicals
You won't find a label that tells you everything that goes into a dog toy, but you can make some guesses on how many chemicals are inside based on the look and features of the toys. Vividly colored toys likely have lots of dye in them. Skip those types of toys if you want to keep chemical dyes away from your pup.
Special treatments, such as stain-resistant and fire-retardant treatments, are a clue that the toy is covered in chemicals. You can also smell a toy to see if it has a strong chemical scent.
Since toys usually go straight to your dog's mouth, those chemicals also make their way into your dog's body. Choose toys with as few chemicals as possible based on what you can see and smell.
Look at the Material
The quality of the materials and construction is also important. Cheap, flimsy, or poor-quality materials can break when your dog chews on them. Those little pieces become choking hazards or may cause digestive problems if your dog swallows them.
Construction quality is also important for making the toys last longer. Poorly constructed toys are a waste of money since they don't last long.
Check for Common Hazards
Strings on dog toys become a hazard if they come loose. Your dog may swallow the rope, which is dangerous for his intestines. Ropes can also get tangled around dog collars.
If you buy your dog plush toys, consider the durability of the material. Dogs can easily tear open stuffed toys. Some dogs may not bother the stuffing, but others may eat it and cause themselves digestive troubles.
Battery-powered dog toys can present a hazard if the batteries come loose. Avoid these types of toys if your dog is rough on things.
Keep Your Pet Happy
Finding the right types of dog toys for your furry family member takes a little research, but knowing what to choose keeps your dog safe and makes active playtime more fun.
Check out our collar and leash sets so your pup can look stylish on the way to the dog park to play with all those new toys.