Choose one of these 7 types of dog toys and your slippers may live to see another day.
Fact: dogs can turn just about anything into a chew toy—a dirty sock, a shoe, a wooden table leg, etc. And the best way to keep your mid-century credenza free of canine tooth-marks is to have plenty of dog toys to satisfy your pup’s natural urge to chew.
Of course, active dogs need much more than bones to keep them entertained (you wouldn’t spend your whole life only playing one board game, would you?). But how do you choose the best dog toys for your dog when there are so many different types to choose from? Below, we highlight 7 different types of dog toys and explain the pros and cons of each so you can feel confident you’re choosing the best dog toys for your particular pup.
Why Dogs Love Them: Many types of dogs were specifically bred to retrieve things for their owners, so the desire to chase down an object and bring it back is built-in. Plus, chasing after a ball is a great way for your dog to expel extra energy and get some cardiovascular exercise too.
When To Take It Away: While some balls are made to double as chew toys, others (like a basic tennis ball) are not and broken pieces can be dangerous if swallowed by your dog. Because of this, it’s best to put the ball away when it’s not being used for fetch.
Why Dogs Love Them: As fun to retrieve as a ball, but a little more challenging since many other fetch toys (such as frisbees or other flying discs) can change direction and speed on their way down. And, unlike a ball, a frisbee can also be used to play tug-of-war.
When To Take It Away: A plastic disc may be tempting to chew on, but remember that most fetch toys aren’t meant to be chewed on. If you notice your dog ingesting bits of plastic, it’s time to get a new toy.
Our Pick: The Chuckit Paraflight Flyer, which is made of durable nylon and floats on water, perfect for a day at the dog beach.
Why Dogs Love Them: A fun game of tug-of-war appeals to a dog’s natural predatory instincts and they also love it because they get to interact closely with you! And since it’s a game with a clear winner and loser, your dog will be mentally stimulated and also learn about boundaries.
When To Take It Away: Many experts are divided on whether playing tug-of-war can inspire aggression in dogs. Stop the game if your dog becomes possessive of the toy or won’t let go when commanded. Also, some rope toys can cause digestive issues if strings are ingested, so be sure to use the rope only for tugging rather than letting the dog chew it.
Our Pick: Dog Rope Chew-and-Tug Toy (4-Pack), which are made of soft cotton fibers that help clean your dog’s teeth.
Why Dogs Love Them: Unlike many of the toys on this list, durable toys are meant to be chomped on. In fact, many are specifically made for dogs that are aggressive chewers or are teething, giving them something they can safely gnaw on without getting hurt (or reprimanded).
When To Take It Away: Just because a toy is meant to be chewed doesn’t mean it’s meant to be swallowed. Be sure to regularly check durable dog chew toys and chew to make sure your pup hasn’t bitten off more than he should.
Our Pick: Tail Toys Football, constructed of super-tough, BPA-free rubber.
Why Dogs Love Them: Dogs need mental stimulation just as much as they need physical stimulation, and that’s exactly what these types of puzzles and games offer (along with a tasty treat once the puzzle is solved). If your dog tends to wolf down her kibble too fast, incorporating a puzzle treat in to meal time can also be an effective way to get her to slow down between bites.
When To Take It Away: While it’s tempting to keep your dog busy all the time with a puzzle toy, remember that consuming too many treats can be just as bad for them as it is for you. Limit the number or reward treats they get to one or two a day and then switch to another toy.
Our Pick: Hide ‘N Seek Treat Game, which allows you to hide treats or food under seven different plastic cups.
Why Dogs Love Them: Um, did someone say ‘treat’? These toys are designed to extend the fun of snack time by making your dog work for his reward. Not only can they keep your dog safely entertained for hours, but they also provide mental and physical stimulation as he tries to figure out ways to reach every crumb of dog biscuit or swear of peanut butter contained inside.
When To Take It Away: While many toy dispensing treats are designed to endure a lot of gnawing, they don’t last forever. If chunks of plastic come off or rubber splits, it’s time to get a new toy.
Our Pick: the classic Kong, made of incredibly durable rubber that makes it great for aggressive chewers
Why Dogs Love Them: As anyone with a dedicated “sock thief” in their house will attest, dogs love having soft, cushy things in their mouth. For some dogs, a stuffed toy taps into their innate predatory nature, while other dogs may take a more maternal approach and treat their plush toys like babies, gently mouthing them or carrying them around the house.
When To Take It Away: If your dog succeeds in getting the stuffing out of his plush toy, it’s time to say goodbye, especially if the toy contains a squeaker, which can prove dangerous if swallowed.
Our Pick: Bow Wow Pet extra-large flat squeaky animal toys are super soft and easily double as fetch toys.