Choosing the right toy for your dog is very important as there are many safety concerns that go along with dog toys.
The toys you choose will depend on factors like the breed, age and size of your dog. Certain breeds are more aggressive with toys than others and need very durable toys. Another factor is whether they will be supervised or unsupervised during play. Dog toys are also an invaluable investment. The key to keeping a dog from being bored and destructive is to provide a stimulating environment. Suitable toys for both education and chewing are extremely important.
Choose safe, sturdy toys. Avoid thin, cheap, rubber, heavily dyed or decorated toys and steer clear of brittle plastic toys. Avoid toys made overseas because of the potential for lead poisoning. Dogs truly love squeaky toys or any toy that makes a noise when grabbed. This is most likely because the noise makes the dog think it caught an injured animal. Choose durable squeaky toys; make sure the squeaker won't pop out and possibly be swallowed. There are no completely safe chew toys. The key to safe use of any toy is to read labels and watch your dog at play with the toy to determine which is best for him as an individual. Unless you are using hard rubber toys specifically designed for ‘indestructibility", never let your dog play with toys unsupervised. Toys can fall apart or splinter and can cause choking if swallowed. If a toy looks like it is coming apart, replace it immediately.
Dogs can quickly lose interest in a single toy which is why having a variety of unique dog toys is helpful to prevent boredom. Make sure you have plenty of toys in a variety of sizes, shapes and textures. Rotating the toys that your dog has available avoids boredom and sensory overload. For example, if you have a box of toys dole out 5 for the day and put the rest away. The next day, replace those 5 toys with a different set.
Here are some ideas for helping you navigate through the overcrowded world of dog toys to help you choose the best dog toys for your particular dog.
Rubber toys vary in durability. Many rubber toys can be filled with treats to make them even more inviting. Rubber toys are usually good choices for powerful chewers. Some rubber toys can even be filled with pet dental paste to help clean teeth at the same time.
Dogs love a toy that's unpredictable, and a ball that bounces erratically is the best choice. They also encourage more chasing and retrieving than a regular ball. Puppies have especially short attention spans, and unpredictable toys keep them more amused and interested. Small breeds (like Chihuahuas) seem to enjoy large balls that they can push around at great speeds. Balls are great toys, however if your dog chews up balls quickly, they are not an appropriate toy.
Kong toys are the most recommended toy as they are close to being indestructible. Kong Toys cover all the bases - they are unpredictably bouncy, puncture resistant, can be filled with treats, and don't acquire sharp edges when chewed. However, if your dog destroys a Kong in a short period of time, he probably needs a larger one.
Fabric toys come in a huge variety. It is best to buy fabric toys that come in one piece as decorations like limbs, eyes, and ears can be pulled off and swallowed. Test the toy well before you buy it by tugging and pulling it in all directions. Look for holes and poor stitching.
Once your dog has successfully torn up a toy, make sure you throw it away. Always supervise your dogs when they are playing with fabric toys.
Rope toys are very popular with dogs. Choose a durable, thick, sturdy rope so that it won't unravel easily. Replace rope toys when the rope fibers start to unravel and break off.
Frisbees are the all time best chasing and retrieving toy, but you should use a soft Frisbee. Soft Frisbees are made out of soft plastic or cloth. Although these are not as controllable as the hard Frisbees, soft Frisbees are much less likely to damage a dog's mouth and teeth.
Imitation bones like Nylabones and Booda Velvets are made out of alternative materials such as tempered plastic and cornmeal.
Nylabones come in a range of textures so you can choose the right style for how aggressively your dog chews. During normal chewing, tiny bristle-like projections are raised, which help clean teeth. If these tiny pieces (no larger than a small grain of rice) are ingested, they should pass through. However, if your dog is able to break off large pieces of any plastic or cornmeal bones, discard them immediately.
Rawhides have the advantage of being a tasty and relatively inexpensive toy, and most dogs love them. The disadvantage of rawhide is that it can be untidy. It can also be quickly chewed into small chunks, and dogs have been known to swallow large pieces and get blocked. Rawhides can be a good choice as long as you choose wisely. Compressed rawhide is the most heavy-duty and safest variety of rawhide.
Watch your dog play with the rawhide and take it away if he is breaking off large chunks to swallow. When the rawhides wear down to a piece that can be swallowed, they should be thrown away.
Bones and Animal Parts
Animal bones have the capability to splinter and crack therefore making them an extremely poor choice. All bones have the capability to cause major internal damage. Bones can also fracture teeth and damage the enamel. Hooves and other inflexible animal parts can cause broken teeth, scratched enamel, upset stomachs and vomiting. Pig ears and bully sticks are messy, can carry bacteria, and are very high in fat and calories.
Intelligent toys are toys that must be manipulated in a certain ways to release treats. These are excellent toys/games that stimulate dogs and prevent boredom. The challenge is to be patient as intelligent toys can have a bit of a learning curve before the dog realizes that treats come out, and how they are dispensed.