Every dog needs toys! But choosing the best toys for your pet can be a challenge. There are so many different types of toys out there, and each of them has a different purpose. Here are some considerations to ensure that you are getting the right toys for your pet.
- Think about your dog’s breed when selecting toys. Some types of dogs love to chew (Labrador retrievers and Golden retrievers are two prime examples). Other dogs enjoy solving puzzles (like German shepherds). You want to buy a variety of toys for your dog, but make sure that at least a few of the toys you get are specifically aimed at your dog’s breed.
- Consider your dog’s personality. While breed is one factor that establishes a dog’s personality, every pet has unique quirks and qualities. What does your dog love to do? If he loves to run and chase things, bouncy balls and flying discs made for pets are great choices. If he is easily bored, consider a puzzle-based toy that dispenses a treat. If he likes to snuggle, get him a sturdy plush toy that he can carry and cuddle. But remember, variety is good! A dog that loves to cuddle sometimes wants to chase, and a dog that loves to chew sometimes wants to solve a puzzle.
- Your dog’s age is a factor too. Older dogs may have sensitive gums and teeth, and will do well with smooth, squishy toys made out of materials like latex or vinyl. These toys may also appeal to less aggressive pets who don’t like to chew as hard or as much as others.
- Always purchase durable toys. For some reason a lot of dog toys exist which are really poorly manufactured—especially plush toys. They will fall apart at the slightest provocation. Always shop for sturdy toys that are going to stand up to chewing and clawing and other aggressive use. This is especially important if you have a hyperactive pet or one that loves to chew. Durable toys last longer and can become very cherished by your pet. They also are much safer.
- Safety first! This should always be your prime consideration when you are shopping for toys for your dog. What should you be on the lookout for? Avoid toys which are too small for your dog and which could be swallowed and pose a choking hazard. If you buy a toy that has a string or ribbon on it or any other small part that could pose a hazard, remove it. Broken toys need to be repaired soundly or discarded. Avoid toys that contain nutshells or polystyrene beads.
- Also know that toys that are safe for some dogs can cause trouble for others. Some dogs love toys with squeakers and can have a fun, safe time with them. Others obsess about tearing open the toy and getting at the squeaker. This can lead to a choking hazard.
Many dogs will have one or two toys that they like to “baby” and carry around everywhere and protect, and a number of other toys in which they gain and lose interest over time. A great idea is to leave out the toys your dog is particularly attached to at all times, and then to take the other toys and put them on a rotation schedule. Leave out only a few at a time, and then change them out. That way they will always seem “fresh.”
Another fun game is to play hide-and-seek using the toys. Dogs love to hunt down toys and experience a sense of accomplishment when they find them. This tends to make the toy more interesting to them, and also offers a great bonding activity for the two of you.