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Types Of Dog Toys and How to Use Them

Many behavior problems in dogs are the result of boredom or excess energy. Toys are more than just a bit of fun for your dog; toys offer mental and physical stimulation and enrichment. Directing your dog’s energy into play with toys can prevent or help resolve such problems as digging and chewing on furniture, shoes or shrubbery.  Playing is a rewarding experience for them which counteracts the effects of stress and this destructive behaviour.

Toy options we recommend

Interactive Toys (These are toys that require your participation)

  • Fetch toys – many dogs enjoy chasing objects: This includes balls and frisbees. Oddly shaped rubber toys which bounce erratically make the games more fun. These devices are great for tiring out your dog with the further they are thrown, increases the distance the dog will have to run to get the toy.
  • Rope toys - are great for playing tug-of-war. See note below on playing tug-of-war with your dog.

Distraction Toys (Keep your dog entertained with self play):

  • Food Delivery Toys or lick mats: Designed to be used with your dogs favourite treat. The dog must manipulate the toy with his mouth and/or paws to get the food.
  • Chew Toys: The best chew toys are those that make the play more interactive that can be filled with your dogs favourite treats. You can also encourage your dog to play with their hard rubber toys by adding peanut butter on them.  Other than hard rubber toys; dentil chews, pigs ears and dehydrated bones make a great chew toy.
  • Puzzle Toys: Food puzzle toys require the dog to solve a puzzle in order to get treats.
Dog Toy Dog Bed Comfort Toy What dog toys are best for my dog?

Comfort Toys:

  • Soft stuffed toys are good for several purposes but are not appropriate for all dogs. Stuffed toys should be the appropriate size for your dog. Toys with a squeaker are highly recommended because dogs feel rewarded when they cause the toy to make the exciting noise.

Getting the most out of toys

  • Rotate your dog’s toys weekly and keep a variety of types easily accessible. If your dog has a favorite comfort toy, you should probably leave it out all the time.
  • Provide toys that offer a variety of uses – give your dog at least one toy to carry, one to shake, one to roll and one for comfort.
  • “Hide and Seek” is a fun game for dogs to play. “Found” toys are often much more attractive. 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. For example, scattering a handful of dog biscuits or treats in the grass or on a patterned carpet will require your dog to use his nose to find the food.
  • Many of your dog’s toys should be interactive. Interactive play is very important for your dog because he needs active “people time.” 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, such as jumping up or being mouthy.

Dog Rope Toys chew toys tug-of-war cotton toys handmade great for chewing dogs puppy toys

Tug of war

Tug can promote impulse control, build confidence, and strengthen the bond between dogs and their owners. By letting your dog “win” during a game of tug, you aren’t letting them dominate you. Instead, you’re nurturing a solid rapport and teaching them that engaging with you is fun and rewarding. 

Here's some basic rules when it comes to tug-of-war.

  • Choose a toy that will be reserved exclusively for this particular activity. By doing this you will help prevent your dog from grabbing and tugging any object you're holding.
  • Use 2 commands:
    • “Let’s tug” to begin the game. Be sure to never allow your dog to initiate tug on his own and always use your starting phrase when you begin the game.
    • Use words such as “Give” or “Out” to end the game. You can teach your dog to release the toy by offering a treat or better toy in exchange. Do not start playing tug with your dog until he is consistently releasing the toy on command.


Ensure Safety 

Many safety factors to be considered on the safety and danger of a toy for your dog includes: your dog’s size, activity level and play style.

The following information is a guideline to consider when ensuring your dogs safety with a specific toy: 

  • Toys should be appropriate for your dog’s current size. Toys that are too small can become a choking hazard, especially Balls.
  • Alter toys that are not "dog proof". This means removing any parts that could be chewed off and ingested. This could include removing strings, eyes or tags.
  • Discard any toys that start to break into peices.
  • Check with your veterinarian about the safety of items like bones, hooves, pig’s ears and rawhides. Some very hard rubber toys are safer and last longer.
  • Squeaker toys should be only given under supervision. This is because most dogs will feel the need to find the squeaker to destroy it.  You do not want your dog ingesting the squeaker.
  • Always consider your dogs chewing habits before leaving them alone with a particular toy. Do they carry a plush toy around for years? Do they enjoy “disemboweling” the toy by pulling all the stuffing out? If they enjoy chewing toys apart, this can create a safety hazard for that dog.

We would love to know your dogs favourite toy - add in the comments!


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