How To Choose The Right Toys for Your Dog
If you’ve ever walked down the toy aisle in a pet store or typed “dog toys” into a search engine, you’ve probably been overwhelmed by how many choices there are. Today’s options go way beyond the old standards of tennis balls and flying discs and there are probably as many different types of dog toys as there are different breeds (and mixes!) of dogs.
Play is an important component of a healthy, happy life for your dog, and giving them the right toys to play with is a key factor in keeping them satisfied and engaged during play. Dogs can be funny about their toys. Some dogs will play with anything that moves while others have entire basketfuls that remain untouched. So, how do you choose which types of toys are the best for your canine companion? In all honesty, it will likely take some trial and error and a little bit of guesswork, but the following recommendations should be able to guide you in your search for the perfect toys for your pooch.
Consider your dog’s life stage
First, you should consider your dog’s life stage. Puppies are in particular need of age-specific toys to help with teething and and to help them learn that your furniture and household items are not appropriate chew toys! Older dogs’ mouths may be sensitive and require softer toys. Many dog toy manufacturers offer items specifically designed for puppies and some offer senior-appropriate toys as well. Careful attention to product packaging and labeling can guide you to the best choices for your pet’s life stage.
Keep in mind your dog’s size
It’s also imperative to keep in mind your dog’s size. Toys should be large enough that there’s no risk of them (or their parts) getting caught in your dog’s throat. Unfortunately, swallowing a toy could lead to a life-threatening airway or GI obstruction, so this is a factor that must always be considered when selecting toys for your pets.
Consider your dog’s chewing level
Next, consider your dog’s chewing level. Does she chew gently or does she seek to destroy? Gentle chewers will probably do just fine with most toys, but heavy chewers should be given toys designed specifically to be extra durable. Today’s toy manufacturers offer products made of everything from heavy-duty rubber tires to super-durable fire hose material to provide safe and long-lasting options for even the most aggressive chewers. Again, product labeling and packaging should indicate chew level appropriateness.
Evaluate the purpose of the dog toy
Also of consideration should be the purpose of the toy. Is it strictly for chewing? Does your dog need a boredom buster? Are you looking to challenge him or her with a brain teaser? Or maybe they really love a good ol’ game of fetch? Different types of toys serve different functions and choosing the type that most interests your pet will help to keep his or her attention. Match toy selections with the needs and interests of your pets. If your dog really loves to chase and retrieve, a flying disc would make a great choice, but for a dog who is easily frightened by objects being tossed in his direction, a different type of toy would be more appropriate.
To prevent your dog from becoming bored with his or her toys, consider only allowing them to play with a few at a time and rotate the toys available to them every few weeks to keep things fresh and exciting. It’s important to keep in mind that toys should not replace interaction with you! Dogs are social animals and depend on you to meet that very important requirement.
Please remember, no matter which type of toys you select for your pets, keep in mind that no toy is completely indestructible and be sure to supervise pets during play. Immediately discard any toys that are broken or have pieces chewed off and always consult your veterinarian with any specific questions you may have regarding appropriate toys for your dog.