It is dog toy heaven out there. There’s almost as many toys for dogs in shops as there are toys for kids. And, like a kid, your dog wants ALL of the toys he or she can sniff. It is your responsibility to get the most safe, most durable and most fun toys for your dog. Don’t fall for the pleading puppy eyes routine. Your dog does not know instinctively which toys are safe. Remember — just because it’s on sale doesn’t mean it is a safe toy for your dog.
Look at Your Dog
Before you can consider what kind of dog toy to get for your dog, you need to take a good look at your dog’s physical characteristics. Ask yourself:
* How big is your dog?
* How big is the mouth?
* How powerful are those teeth? A
* What breed or breeds is your dog made up of?
Many breeds of dogs and most mongrels think Canine Heaven consists of nothing but balls winging back and forth. Retrievers and herding dogs especially adore balls. You need to make sure the dog’s ball is too big to go down their throat. For example, my British mongrel Pony’s perfect ball is a tennis ball. But a tennis ball can be too small (and too dangerous) for much bigger dogs like a German Shepherd.
Balls are economical, easy to find and high on the fun factor. However, they often can be destroyed in a matter of minutes, depending on your dog. Heavy rubber balls are harder to chew up. Balls for cats are way too small for and flimsy for dogs.
Another popular family of dog toys that you will find is called a tug. It basically looks like a thick piece of rope that you and your dog can play tug of war with. If your dog has dominance issues, then a tug is not the right kind of toy, as they often think they are stronger than you if they can yank it from your grasp. It’s great to watch two dogs play with one tug.
Tugs cost more initially, but they last longer. Make sure your dog doesn’t eat the tug. I f it starts to fall apart, trash it. Your dog will be too tempted to eat it (at least mine does).
Dogs go nuts with any squeaky toy because the squeak sounds like captured prey. However, they can choke on the little plastic squeaker inside if they swallow it whole, so always supervise your dog with a squeak toy. My dosg likes to chew and rechew the squeaker, giving a new meaning to the phrase “love you to bits.”
Squeaky toys are usually destroyed fast, or can be the toy from hell if your dog decides to walk around the house all day squeaking.
Stuffed Animals for Dogs
I refuse to get my dogs a stuffed animal toy for the reason that my Mom has a small collection of stuffed animals and I don’t want any confusion to occur. Dogs have been known to mistake the real thing for a stuffed animal. However, that hasn;t stopped my Mom from buying the dogs stuffed animals, as the photo of our youngest dog Hugo shows. If you want your dog to hunt or retrieve game, then these toys are great. Otherwise, avoid them, unless you are absolutely sure your dog knows how to tell the difference between a stuffed animal and a live one. Dogs with teeth problems or are light chewers will enjoy a stuffed animal.
There are stuffed animal dog toys made without the stuffing. They are sometimes called “floppy toys” because, well, without the stuffing, they are really floppy. This is a good alternative for dog owners sick of gathering up tiny white balls of stuffing all over the house.
These are far more expensive than usual dog toys but they are meant to last longer. Interactive toys help challenge a dog’s mind as well as muscles. Various toys include pulling small “baby” toys out of a larger one; sliding levers in order to uncover treats and rolling a cube or ball in order to make it spill out one treat at a time. These are great for dogs left alone, but first supervise your dog with the toy so that he knows how to play with it.