Toys are essential items for all dogs, regardless of age and breeds. All dogs love to play to a certain extent. Playing and chewing are natural canine behaviours.
There are so many dog toys options in the market now, so choosing toys for your dog can be overwhelming, especially for new owners. Then there’s the other end of the spectrum where overzealous dog owners end up buying every single toy in sight cos they are cute, without considering the form or functions of these toys. Some owners may end up with a giant pile of toys gathering dust because the toys they chose do not interest their dogs or there are simply too many.
So how do you choose toys that your dog will actually like?
A dog’s toy preference depends on their personal style of playing and chewing. Instead of buying just any toy in the store, try to be more purposeful in selecting and trying out a few different types of toys.
Here are the common types of dog toys in the market, and these are also the ones that I personally allow Duoji to play with at home.
A quintessential dog toy, balls are classic examples that we see everywhere, in movies, books, etc. There’s a reason why they are so popular and evergreen.
They are great for playing fetch, rolling around and getting your pup to chase it, or even as a chew toy depending on the material used. Generally, the more durable ones like rubber balls last longer and are safer for them. Personally, I wouldn’t recommend those foam ones or even tennis balls, as it’s easy for your dog to chew off bits of it and ingest them.
When choosing a ball for your dog, try to pick one that is large enough for them to carry without accidentally swallowing it, but small enough to comfortably hold in the mouth.
Can they be called dogs if they don’t enjoy chewing? Chew toys are another classic and must-have toys for all furkids. Feeding into their natural instinct to chew, such toys can help to ease boredom, reduce dental plaque, and are great especially when your pup is teething.
They come in many different shapes and sizes, and materials. Depending on whether your dog is a strong chewer, you might need to select chews toys with different hardness levels. Try around a few types and if you observe your dog making a dent in the toy or even chewing off a chunk easily, then that’s probably not hard enough for your power chewer.
The first-ever chew toy I got for Duoji was a mini Nylabone. As a first time owner, I just grabbed the most readily available ones and Nylabone can be found easily at all PLC outlets. However, I kept finding little bits of the toy around the house. Eventually, I tossed it out. Subsequently, I read up a little bit more about Nylabone and found that there were quite a bit of negative reviews on it, from the pieces of plastic breaking off and being ingested by dogs, to causing tooth fractures, etc.
To be fair, regardless of brands and materials, the real danger of any chew toy lies in the potential damage to your dog’s teeth or digestive system so the best way is to monitor closely. If the toy becomes too battered or you keep finding bits of it, chances are your furkid needs a tougher chew toy.
Stuffed toys are great as a snuggle buddy and can serve as a chew toy for the more gentle chewers. They usually contain squeakers and some kind of stuffing, so for power chewers, it’s best to supervise them during play just in case they rip it apart and ingest the stuffing.
These toys tend to be cheaper but don’t last very long. They also tend to get dirty more easily and would require more frequent washing and disinfecting, as compared to toys made from other materials like rubber etc, which can be wiped easily.
I personally avoid those that are furry, cos the fibres might be ripped off by your dog while chewing and ingested, or cause a mess around the house.
Most dogs love a good game of tug-of-war. It’s fun and an excellent way to tire your pup out. There are many types of tug toys in the market – choose one that is comfortable for you to hold in your hand and pull on, as well as easy for your dog to bite and pull on.
In addition, they should be durable enough to withstand your dog’s pulling. Be sure to replace worn-out tug toys so they do not break in the middle of a game.
Rope toys are a popular choice when it comes to tug games but personally, I don’t recommend as they tend to fray very easily. The fibres, when detached and ingested, can cause a serious obstruction in your dog’s digestive tract. There are many online literatures citing the dangers of rope toys. Do read up and make an informed decision.
Apart from a good physical workout, dogs need ample mental stimulation as well. Learning tricks/obedience training, and having a good walk and sniff session outdoors are great ways to achieve this. Why not up the ante with interactive toys?
Common ones include food-dispensing toys and puzzles and come in many variations. These can be on the pricey end of things but in general, you don’t as many of these in your collection. Personally, I source for mine via Taobao or Ezbuy, which is much cheaper than local stores.
To a dog, their sense of smell is everything. It’s what they rely on to explore their surroundings, suss out food, recognise people and peers, identify danger, etc. Hence, it’s always a good idea to incorporate toys that can help to train them to use their noses more.
Snuffle mats are a good choice because of their huge variety and ‘pattern’. Some designs can even be folded and kept in a compact bag for easy storage. They can also be easily DIY-ed if you’re the crafty sort. All you gotta do is to hide some treats in the numerous folds or layers and watch your dog go on a hunt to uncover all the treats. Alternatively, burrow toys are a good choice as well!
Bonus: Larger than life toys
Well, this is entirely optional but a ‘cute-to-have’ addition in your collection. Duoji absolutely loves stuffed toys that are way larger than her. She’ll drag them all over the house, lie on them, attack and ‘fight’ with them, etc. Maybe it’s like having a sibling…
I hope this list serves as a quick guide to choosing the appropriate toys for your dog. For dog toys, variety is better than quantity, or else you’ll soon end up with clutter. After all, they can only play with that many toys in a single session and who’s gonna clean up the mess? =P
Quick tip: Try rotating the toys by switching out a couple of them with something else, then re-introducing them again after a while. Your dog will probably think they are brand new and you save money and avoid building up a pile of unused toys.
Until our next post!