Buying toys for your dog can be a fun and enjoyable part of being a pet owner. Playing with your dog can bring even more joy! But, it can be overwhelming to know when to buy a toy for your dog, and what exactly those toys should be!
There are a few key factors that veterinarians recommend following when deciding what kind of toys to purchase for your dog and how to use them in play. Here are some ideas to keep in mind as you shop.
Age of your Dog
Puppies do a lot of chewing and exploring of the world with their mouths. Therefore, they will enjoy more chewy toys and small teethers. When choosing a chewy toy, a good way to tell if it’s soft enough is to press on the toy with your fingernail. If you can’t make an indention with your fingernail, the toy is too hard.
Stuffed toys and balls may not be great ideas for chewing puppies, but older dogs can have a lot of fun with them. Balls are great for exercising and getting energy out. Stuffed toys, especially those with squeakers, can be well-loved by dogs. You’ll want to make sure that your dog isn’t prone to tearing apart stuffed toys before letting him have free access to those.
We dive more into these types of toys later on in the article, but for now, consider how your dog most enjoys playing at their age and buy toys that cater to those needs.
Size of your Dog
The size of your dog can also help you decide what toys are appropriate for it. A small dog will not enjoy playing with toys that are too heavy or too large for their jaws. Likewise, a large dog could swallow smaller toys or tear apart stuffed toys that would be appropriate and well-loved by smaller dogs.
Another consideration with the size of your dog is the type of toys you use for playing tug-of-war with your dog. While this can be a fun game that helps use up energy, sometimes it can result in damage to your dog’s teeth. Make sure you aren’t yanking the toy out of their mouths, which can hurt their teeth.
Material of the Toy
The materials of the toys you choose for your dog is important. First, experts definitely recommend buying actual dog toys and not children’s toys. Children’s toys may not be as well-constructed as a dog needs, and there may be parts of the toys that could be swallowed by animals.
Second, rawhide is not recommended for dogs by veterinarians or veterinarian dentists. Not only can they cause fractures or damage to your dog’s teeth, they can also cause stomach issues when chunks are swallowed.
Last, toys should not have any strings or small ropes, which can be a choking hazard when they are chewed off of toys.
Types of Toys to Consider
Dogs of all sizes and ages can enjoy different types of balls. These toys are great for exercising and are easy to take with you to the park or beach.
The classic tennis ball makes a great toy for bigger dogs, but smaller dogs may still enjoy a game of fetch using a smaller ball designed for their size. You can also get glow-in-the-dark balls for a fun nighttime romp. Other balls hold treats and the dog can eat the treats as they fall out while rolling the ball around on the ground.
There are an infinite number of rubber toys available for dogs. Some hold food and others have squeakers in them. There are even toys with “silent squeakers”, which are at a pitch too high for human ears, but still audible to dogs’ ears. This can be a sanity saver if you have a dog who loves those types of toys.
As mentioned above, it’s important to test that it’s soft enough by trying to leave an indention with your fingernail. If you have a strong chewer, you’ll want to make sure that you get very thick toys that can’t be torn apart and swallowed.
Plush toys are usually well-loved by dogs, especially those that are not prone to chewing. Many include squeakers on different parts of the body. Make sure that you purchase dog plush toys and not ones made for children.
These braided lengths of rope leashes work especially well for bigger dogs, and can be used for chewing, fetching, or tug-of-war. If you have a chewer, it would be a good idea to store these somewhere out of reach. They can use the toy when supervised to prevent them from swallowing parts of the rope.
These types of toys are like puzzles for dogs. Often, the dog can be motivated to figure out the pattern or mechanisms by a food reward. These types of toys can entertain dogs with treats while keeping the dogs from eating them too quickly. They can be a great distraction for when you need to leave the home.
As you can see, there is never a wrong age to start playing with toys with your dog! However, some thought must be given to the types of toys you give your dog. With the appropriate toys and interaction from you, your dog will fill many happy days with playing and fun.