Choosing a dog toy for your pooch might sound easy, but there are several important factors to consider that can make a big difference to both the enjoyment and safety of your dog.
Choosing a dog toy to suit their preferences and needs
All dogs are different so it’s reasonable to think they have different toy preferences as well, so when choosing a dog toy you should always consider your dog’s size, activity levels, their personal preferences (ie: do they like to chew, are they excited by noise or movement etc.)
When it comes to balls and toys, they should be large enough for your dog to carry, but not too small that they can be swallowed, made with non-toxic and sturdy materials, and always keep an eye on tough chewers, so they are not eating anything they shouldn’t be.
Potential dangers to watch out for with balls and toys:
- Avoid leaving wooden or painted toys and sticks around as wood can splinter and causes a range of internal injuries, whilst paint can be toxic if chewed.
- Get rid of cheap rubber or plastic dog toys and balls if your dog likes to chew them because if they are chewed and digested, they can cause serious internal injury, not to mention the toxic chemicals in most plastics. Read about the dangers of cheap chew toys here.
- Be wary of toys with plastic squeakers inside them. Dogs that react to squeaks that sound like a prey animal tend to want to ‘kill’ the toy and consequently can swallow dangerous parts of the toy.
- Balls need to be the right size so that your dog doesn’t swallow them.
- Tennis balls should be avoided if your dog likes to chew on them as they can ruin dogs teeth and dogs can end up eating the fluffy skin and rubber.
- Ensure any new toys that have tags, string, ribbons etc. on them are safe for your pet. This may involve removing ribbons, strings, eyes, or other parts that could be chewed and ingested.
Different types of dog toys/categories:
With so many dog toys on the market it may seem overwhelming choosing a dog toy for your pet. Here are the most common types of toys to consider when choosing a dog toy.
This is a must-have toy for any dog that loves to fetch, though be mindful of your how ball play can cause many common joint injuries in dogs as they age. When it comes to ball safety, cheap rubber balls can be a hazard to dogs, as can tennis balls. Did you know the yellow fuzzy material can actually wear their teeth down, impacting their oral health and causing pain?
A great ball choice is the Rogz Grinz ball. Soft enough to be gentle on teeth, but firm enough to bounce and float on water. You can even fill the cavity with treats so it becomes an interactive toy.
When choosing a dog toy, always make sure balls are the right size for your dog so that they can’t be swallowed and if they tend to chew them, don’t leave them laying around.
For dogs that love to chew, their toys need to be tough and durable toys so they don’t ingest any harmful materials, while also being kept entertained.The Tasty Bone range comes in a variety of shapes and sizes, with human grade flavouring made from herbs and spices infused to the core of the bone.
Made from 100% Virgin Nylon, which is chemical free, tiny pieces will naturally shave off as your dog chews, but will pass through their system safely should they be ingested. Over time the bone will reduce in size, so if it becomes smaller than your dog’s mouth make sure you dispose of it – though hats off to any dog that can get through these guys!
These toys are great because they can keep your pooch entertained all day. However, beware of them getting to that squeaker and if they tend to rip these toys apart then avoid them and definitely never leave them alone with them. The Beco Rough & Tough toys are a good option, as they are made from recycled materials and they have a squeaker too for dogs who like to destroy their prey. Being so tough they’re safer than most other toys with a squeaker so are a good option when choosing a dog toy with a squeaker.
Interactive Toys and Dog Puzzles
Providing your dog with stimulating toys and puzzles is important to work their brains and bodies, and to help stop boredom in dogs when left home alone, which can help keep many common dog behaviour problems at bay.
The Rogz Tumbler Treat Dog Toy can be filled with treats, or even their dry food, so they have to forage for their food like they would in the wild. It has adjustable release rates for different levels of learning and feeding, is made from a non-toxic and durable plastic, and you can pop it in the dishwasher to clean it.
Other tough interactive toys for dogs or puppies that like to chew include those from the Aussie Dog Products range or the KONG Wobbler, that can have mince frozen inside, can keep them busy for longer. These are also great for hungry dogs or fast eaters.
Discs and Other Retrieving Toys
Discs and other retrieval toys like a ball are great for tiring out your pooch. Depending on your dog’s preference they may prefer the shape of a disk in their mouth compared to a ball. Playing fetch with your pooch is important because it can help build a greater bond between a dog and owner.
Rope and other Tug Toys
These toys are versatile and great for games of fetch and tug-of-war, which are a great way to build a bond with your dog while having fun so, when choosing a dog toy for play, these are a great place to start.
These toys are great for dogs want to carry something around with them. However, if your dog tends to chew and rip them up then they can pose a risk, so never leave them alone with them if they do.
Other key considerations:
For those that like chew, they need tough and durable toys so they don’t ingest any harmful materials, while also being kept entertained.
The Tasty Bone range comes in a variety of shapes and sizes, with human grade flavouring made from herbs and spices infused to the core of the bone.
Made from 100% Virgin Nylon, which is chemical free, tiny pieces will naturally shave off as your dog chews, but will pass through their system safely should they be ingested.
Over time the bone will reduce in size, so if it becomes smaller than your dog’s mouth make sure you dispose of it – though hats off to any dog that can get through these guys!
Then you have the softer, but still tough, Beco Rough & Tough toys. Made from recycled materials they have a squeaker too for dogs who like to destroy their prey. Being so tough they’re safer than most other toys with a squeaker and have even outwitted Darcy who can usually destroy a squeaking toy in minutes!
Size – All dog toys should be large enough to carry, but not too small to digest as your dog can accidentally choke on them.
Squeaker safety – Some dogs will naturally tear apart a squeaker toy; it’s their canine instinct to attack something that makes this noise if they have a strong prey drive. This is natural and healthy behaviour and can keep your pooch entertained until they finally break the squeaker.
Whilst some dogs are quite happy just to bite into the area where the squeaker lives and stop once it is ‘dead’ without pulling apart the toy, you may be comfortable with allowing your dog to enjoy the ritual of killing it’s prey (deflating the squeaker).
However, you must keep a close eye on them to ensure they don’t swallow the plastic squeaker or any other parts of the toy. If your dog tends to go a bit crazy with them though, ripping apart the toy and chewing into the squeaker, then I would not recommend these toys for your dog when choosing a dog toy.
Interactive toys – interactive toys that dispense treats as the dogs play with them are great for dogs that get left home alone throughout the day and need mental and physical stimulation to keep away anxiety or boredom.
When choosing a dog toy it’s important that these are safe, sturdy and have been designed to be safely left alone with them unsupervised.
Rotate their toys
Us humans like to have a bit of variety in our lives and can get bored if we do the same thing day in and day out. It is no different for our dogs, so it is a good idea to rotate your dog toys daily and give them just a few different options each day to keep them stimulated and entertained.
About the Author: Lara Shannon is a certified dog behaviourist and trainer, pet food nutrition specialist, Executive Producer and Host of Pooches at Play on Channel 10 and editor of Poochesatplay.com. Lara also runs her own dog training business in Melbourne’s Bayside area and is the Author of World of Dogs and Eat, Play, Love Your Dog