If you fit into the category of a dog lover, pet sitter, or even are lucky enough to have a dog as your companion, then you know not all dogs like the same toys. All dogs have distinct personalities. Then, on top of that, they have needs varying depending on their size, breed, and age.
It may seem cut and dry when you first get a dog. Get them a ball and a bone, and they’ll be set. That is far from true. Speaking from experience, my dog is very particular about the toys he has. Some toys he loves and others he won’t even acknowledge. Some toys he destroys in a matter of seconds and others he has had for years.
While not all dogs enjoy the same toys, we must also realize that not all toys are created equally. There are many toy brands that we’ve grown to trust over the years. While there are others that choose cheap and potentially dangerous materials to make their toys.
Choosing the right toy for your dog will not only make them happy, but it can help to channel their energy into play instead of bad behaviors. Many destructive and nuisance behaviors occur when dogs do not have an outlet for their instincts. So, how do you choose the right toy for your dog?
Factors to Consider Before Buying a Toy for Your Dog
No one dog is the same. Sure, there are similarities and overlapping interests, but they are individuals just like us! The best way to narrow down the type of toy best for your dog is to make purchases based on their size, age, and breed. Then, you can start looking at what it is they enjoy playing with and what they dislike.
The breed of your dog plays a huge role in the types of toys they will enjoy. The reason breeds have such an impact on the kinds of toys your dog will like is because of their instincts. Many dogs were bred for particular jobs, so how they interact with toys can reflect those behaviors. Another reason is that dogs see their toys as being reflective of prey in the wild.
While this isn’t always the case, a dog’s breed can also determine certain personality traits. Some dog breeds tend to be gentler than others, so they may be more excited to get a plush toy. Then, you have dog breeds that tend to be slightly more aggressive, so they love rope and tug toys.
The breed of your dog will directly relate to their size as well. You don’t want to get a toy that is too small for your Great Dane, and you don’t want one that your Toy Poodle can’t even carry around. Finding toys that fit their size is important not only for their enjoyment but also for their safety.
Toys designed specifically for small dogs can be dangerous when given to larger dogs. They could potentially eat them or choke on them.
Dog’s change as they age. Their personalities change, their energy levels, and their bodies change, much like humans do. When we have a puppy, we won’t be giving them the same toys that we give to a senior dog.
There are many toys designed for puppies that target their teething, and there are many toys designed for elderly dogs that are softer and gentler on their teeth.
As you get to know your dog over the years, you will get to know the things they like and the toys they can play with safely. Just remember that their interests may shift over time, so you may need to try new toys every once in a while.
Toy Types For Your Dog’s Interests
There are so many toys to choose from that you want to find out at an early age what your dog is interested in playing with. You also want to be careful not to overwhelm them. Having too many toys on hand at all times may seem like a good idea, but it can cause them to become bored with them quite quickly.
If your dog has multiple interests, that still doesn’t mean you have to limit how many toys they have. You can also restrict when they have access to the toys. This allows them to express themselves while they play without them becoming disinterested in the toys you do have.
If Your Dog Loves to Chew
Chewing is natural for dogs. Some dogs enjoy it more than others, though. Having the right toys around a dog that loves chewing will break their attention away from items they shouldn’t chew. Most dogs that are chewers are also destroyers.
So with that in mind, you should look for toys that are designed for chewing. Rope toys work well for rough dogs, but they can tear strands off. You want to look for toys that won’t break apart into small pieces. Finding a chew toy that works well for your dog may take some trial and error, but once you find the right ones, they’re sure to last.
Another popular toy that dogs love involves squeakers. Be careful with these toys. Many squeaky toys are plush, and some dogs will treat them with care, while others will destroy them in a matter of minutes. They do make squeaky toys for dogs that are more aggressive chewers, so look into those if your dog loves the noise they make but are more aggressive when they play.
Here are some of my dog’s favorite chew toys:
If Your Dog Loves Fetch
Many people assume that all dogs love playing fetch. I can attest that this is not true. My trusted companion will play fetch, but usually, it is somewhat begrudgingly. He prefers other types of games and running above all else.
Still, this is a classic game for dogs of all sizes. You may need to teach them how to play fetch if they aren’t natural at it, but it can be done. Fetch is an excellent form of exercise, and you can tell your dog will love to fetch if they like to chase things.
A ball is a great traditional fetching toy. Many dog lovers trust tennis balls, but for some dogs, they are not durable enough. They are easy to tear apart and your dog could end up eating the pieces. This happened with my dog with tennis balls and baseballs. There are more heavy-duty balls that you can use to outlast chewers that love fetch as well.
Then you have discs. These are another great option, especially for older dogs. Disc toys are easier for them to catch and more comfortable on their mouths. Don’t forget about our water-loving pups either! Many dogs thrive in the water and will play fetch endlessly at the lake or beach. There are many floating fetch toys to make water fetch their new favorite game.
Check out these awesome balls, discs, and fetching toys if your dog needs a new toy:
If Your Dog is Reward Hungry
Another great way to entertain your pup is to get them a treat-dispensing toy. I have yet to meet a dog that doesn’t love these. If your dog isn’t keen on many other games, these can keep them busy for quite a while if you choose the right ones.
Treat toys are a great way to engage their minds and give them more of a challenge than just handing them a treat. This way, they have to work for their reward.
Here are some top-notch treat dispensing toys to keep your dog engaged:
If Your Dog is Too Smart
Moving off of the treat dispensing toys, there are even more complicated ones that reward your dog for solving puzzles. Many dogs love puzzle games. Some breeds are predisposed to solving problems, and this is the perfect way to challenge them cognitively.
Puzzle toys may take some time to catch on, but many of them involve a reward once they’ve solved the maze or opened the compartments in the right order. Their ability to identify the problem and reward system will keep them coming back each time you take the puzzle out.
Another excellent investment for dogs that love solving problems is teaching them agility. This is more of an investment for you and your dog as a unit, but many dogs enjoy the challenge as well as having a job to do.
These puzzle toys are sure to keep your pup mentally stimulated:
If Your Dog is Gentle and Cuddly
Not all dogs are chewers or chasers. Some dogs love to have a stuffed toy to carry with them wherever they go. These toys act more like a teddy bear does for a child. Your dog may never chew them, but they will carry them in their mouths and take them with them when they sleep.
These toys will be plush like a stuffed animal. Be careful not to get them any plush toy, though. If they do end up wanting to chew, you want to make sure there aren’t things they can easily eat or swallow.
Here are some durable, yet soft dog toys to try:
Mix It Up
Dogs are not all the same, and they like us, they can get bored too! Take time to give them different types of toys to try, especially when they’re young. This process will help them determine what toys they enjoy most, and it will help you to know which toys they cannot be trusted playing with.
It may take some trial and error, but over time your pup will choose their favorite toys.
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