Whether they’re young or old, fat or skinny, short-haired or scruffy, almost every dog loves play time. And play time just isn’t the same without the right selection of fun, entertaining and durable dog toys.
But how do you know which is the right toy for your dog? There’s simply a huge array of toys available to suit pooches of all shapes and sizes, and finding the best dog toys can often be a tricky proposition. So let’s take a closer look at what’s available and help you choose the perfect toy for your playful pooch.
The best dog toys
The best dog toys are those that encourage your dog to get outside and play. Not only do they provide a great opportunity for your pooch to get active, but they can also provide mental stimulation for your dog and a chance for dogs and owners to spend a whole lot of quality time together.
Chew toys are an essential inclusion in any dog’s backyard. Available in just about every size, shape and colour you can imagine, they offer an interesting texture for dogs to sink their teeth into. There are even dental chew toys specially designed to care for your dog’s teeth and gums, while chew toys that are easy to wash can last a long time.
The humble tennis ball or Frisbee/flying disc should never be underestimated if your dog has a strong drive to retrieve. Soft rubber or cloth flying discs will be easier on canine teeth, while tennis balls are easy to throw and provide something interesting to chew. There are even special tennis ball launchers to help you throw the ball further without dislocating your shoulder!
For a variation on the tennis ball, try a throwing toy that has an irregular shape. Not only will this provide a new and interesting shape for your dog to wrap his teeth around, but it’ll also bounce unpredictably when thrown and give your dog an extra challenge when chasing.
Another essential inclusion in your dog’s toy box is an interactive toy such as a Kong. These clever creations can be filled with your dog’s favourite treats, and your pooch then has to roll, chew and manoeuvre the toy to work out how they can release a treat and enjoy a tasty snack. This presents a wonderful challenge for your dog’s brain and helps them develop problem-solving skills. It’s also the perfect way to prevent dogs getting bored (and solving their boredom by digging up your garden) when you’re at work or away from home for a couple of hours.
Squeaky toys will drive some dogs wild with excitement as they try to figure out the source of that strange, intriguing new noise. Just make sure the squeaking device is well secured inside the toy and can’t be pulled out by inquisitive canines.
Last but not least, a couple of soft, plush dog toys are also the perfect addition for many dogs. Some pooches will love to chew them, others might like carrying them everywhere and making their favourite toy an important part of their bedding.
Top tips for dog toys
- Safety first. Any toy that is too small or that has parts that can break off could be a choking hazard or could be swallowed by your dog and cause a gastrointestinal blockage.
- Replace regularly. If any toy starts to wear out or deteriorate, replace it immediately.
- Mix it up. To get the maximum amount of use out of each toy and keep things fresh for your dog, don’t give all the toys to your pooch at once. Instead, rotate them every week or two to prevent boredom setting in.
- Tough stuff. Whether you’ve got a tiny little Shih Tzu or a big, boisterous Rottweiler, plenty of dogs don’t play gently. Choose toys that are sturdy, durable and that will stand up to a whole lot of rough play.
- Keep looking. There are different and exciting dog toys becoming available at any time, so check back at The Fuzzy Rabbit regularly to see if there’s something new your pooch will love.
What makes the perfect dog toy?
In 2012, researchers at the University of Bristol’s Veterinary School released a study that aimed to answer that very question. The results were published in the journal Animal Cognition:
“Because we think that dogs perceive toys in the same way that wolves perceive prey, they prefer toys that either taste like food or can be torn apart, however the latter can cause health problems if the dog accidentally swallows some of the pieces,” said study co-author John Bradshaw.
Co-author Anne Pullen added that dog toys should be “soft, easily manipulable toys that can be chewed easily and/or make a noise.”
That’s what the scientists say, but the only expert you need to worry about is your four-legged friend.