Dogs should have several toys to play with (its better then them chewing on your shoes or anything else they find interesting or tasty). Depending on the size of the dog and how hard they chew will depend on what types of toys to get your dog. If your dog tends to chew up all his toys, you will have to resort to the heavy duty dog toys they now sell. But it's nice to give the dog a variety of toys to choose from so he doesn't get bored. Different size, shapes and colors can add varity.
Make sure the toys are safe:
Some toys can be dangerous. Safety is based on the size of the dog and how aggressively he chews. A large dog should not be given toys that are small enough to swallow.
Dog-proof your home:
Just as you would do for a toddler crawling around on the floor, you want to make sure there is nothing lying around the dog will pick up and chew up or eat.
It is best to make sure there are no ribbons or buttons on the toys that can be chewed off and swallowed.
It is best to buy very hard rubber toys. They last longer and are safer.
It is good to rotate your dog's toys so he does not get tired of them.
- Very hard rubber toys, like Nylabone-type products and Kong-type products. These are available in a variety of shapes and sizes and are fun for chewing and for carrying around.
- "Rope" toys that are usually available in a "bone" shape with knotted ends.
- Tennis balls make great dog toys, but keep an eye out for any that could be chewed through and discard them.
- Kong-type toys, especially when filled with broken-up treats or, even better, a mixture of broken-up treats and peanut butter. The right size Kong can keep a puppy or dog busy for hours. Only by chewing diligently can your dog access the treats, and then only in small bits - very rewarding! Double-check with your veterinarian about whether or not you should give peanut butter to your dog.
- "Busy-box" toys are large rubber cubes with hiding places for treats. Only by moving the cube around with his nose, mouth and paws, can your dog access the goodies.
- Soft stuffed toys are good for several purposes, but aren't appropriate for all dogs. For some dogs, the stuffed toy should be small enough to carry around. For dogs that want to shake or "kill" the toy, it should be the size that "prey" would be for that size dog (mouse-size, rabbit-size or duck-size).
- Dirty laundry, like an old t-shirt, pillowcase, towel or blanket, can be very comforting to a dog, especially if it smells like you! Be forewarned that the item could be destroyed by industrious fluffing, carrying and nosing.
Get The Most Out Of Toys!
- Rotate your dog's toys weekly by making only four or five toys available at a time. Keep a variety of types easily accessible. If your dog has a huge favorite, like a soft "baby," you should probably leave it out all the time, or risk the wrath of your dog!
- Provide toys that offer a variety of uses - at least one toy to carry, one to "kill", one to roll and one to "baby."
- "Hide and Seek" is a fun game for dogs to play. "Found" toys are often much more attractive than a toy which is blatantly introduced. Making an interactive game out of finding toys or treats is a good "rainy-day" activity for your dog, using up energy without the need for a lot of space.
- Many of your dog's toys should be interactive. Interactive play is very important for your dog because he needs active "people time." By focusing on a specific task, like repeatedly returning a ball, Kong or Frisbee, or playing "hide-and-seek" with treats or toys, your dog can expel pent-up mental and physical energy in a limited amount of time and space. This greatly reduces stress due to confinement, isolation and/or boredom. For young, high-energy and untrained dogs, interactive play also offers an opportunity for socialization and helps them learn about appropriate and inappropriate behavior with people and with other animals, like jumping up or being mouthy.