Just like humans, our canine companions can be prone to anxiety disorders that manifest in many different forms. Some dogs react poorly to loud noises. Some, especially the newest additions to our families, may still be adjusting to being away from their littermates. Others can't bear to be away from us for too long, which can lead to bad behavior. Luckily, there are tools out there that can help us keep our pets calm - including the best calming toys for dogs in 2021 that can be cuddled or chewed.
After some testing, we’ve found several options that can be a great way to help calm pets. Our favorites were crafted with safe materials and took dogs’ behavioral needs into account to provide a calming effect.
A dog may exhibit signs of anxiety which may be caused by a variety of factors. The most common types of anxiety in dogs are separation anxiety, rescue or shelter anxiety, illness-induced anxiety, and general anxiety due to loud noises, such as thunderstorms or fireworks.
An anxious dog shows different signs and symptoms such as pacing, panting, whimpering, whining, trembling, dilated pupils, excessive licking, spontaneous urination and bowel movements, constant barking, chewing or digging, door scratching, and avoiding human interactions.
Calming toys are used to decrease and alleviate these symptoms. Calming toys are useful to all ages, from new puppies transferring to a new home, to shelter dogs familiarizing itself in a new environment, to senior dogs who want to feel safe and loved.
Benefits of using calming toys for dogs
To mitigate and prevent the symptoms associated with anxiety.
To lessen the nervousness of the dog, especially in a new environment.
To distract the dog in case the owners are leaving the home.
To prevent destructive behavior.
To channel their energy into the toys.
To make the dog feel safe and comfortable.
To establish a routine that will make the dog stress-free.
Calming toys may be broadly categorized into two: treat dispensing, and plushies.
1. Treat dispensing
Treat dispensing toys are made of rubber and other durable materials. It helps calm an anxious dog by directing its attention and energy on the treats and other food items inside the toy. This type is perfect for active dogs, as their energy is still high.
Plushies are usually soft and cuddly stuffed toys, designed to mimic another dog. It provides for a safe and comfortable item for the dog. This type is perfect for puppies and old dogs.
Brands – Treat Dispensing
Kong Classic Dog Toy
This brand is famous not just as a soothing toy, but also to provide distraction and serve as a play toy. These toys come in different shapes and sizes, and treats may be placed inside. It features a complex puzzle feeding experience that removes stress from the dog who has separation anxiety. The toy is made from durable rubber and may be used for fetch as it bounces and rolls. The dogs will be focused on the toy and not on the people leaving the home.
PetSafe Busy Buddy Calming Toys
This toy provides for two toys as a set, encased with chamomile scented rubber. It dispenses treats and the opening of the toy may be modified to include bigger treats. The non-toxic material is durable and dishwasher safe, built for frequent chewing. It is also a trusted brand with 24/7 customer care in case of questions or concerns regarding the product.
StarMark Bob-A-Lot Interactive Dog Toy
This treat dispensing toy is perfect to distract an active dog as it wobbles and bobbles around, leaving treats behind. The color of the toy, and the sound of treats inside will distract a dog, preventing anxious and destructive behavior such as pacing and scratching.
Brands – Plushies
PetStages Cuddle Pal
This soft toy is designed for puppies and senior dogs. There is a small packet that may be removed and heated in a microwave. The gentle heat in the middle part of toy calms nerves, while its soft shape provides for easy and comfortable snuggling. The shape is also ideal for playing fetch.
ZippyPaws Plush Animals
This brand provides an interactive toy that will make the dog calm and less anxious. The set contains one “home” for plush animals, and three squeaky toys. It comes in 5 different animals: bunny, chicken, mouse, pig, and raccoon. The squeaky toys may be placed inside their home made of plush materials for an interactive play. It encourages burrowing, as the objective of this toy is to remove the squeaky toys from their home.
SmartPetLove Snuggle Puppy
This snuggle puppy toy has a “real-feel” pulsing heartbeat and heat pack to mimic the presence of another dog. This is particularly helpful to puppies as it helps in transitioning to their new home. This toy is also effective as a calming toy in case of fireworks and thunderstorms. It is easy to clean and is machine washable on gentle cycle.
An Old Shirt or Blanket
New puppies may be partial to the owner’s old things such as shirts, blankets, shoes. Dogs will feel safe and calm when there is a familiar scent in their living area.
Jarett and his vapor wake dog, Toxi, help keep the students and public safe on the University of Notre Dame’s campus. Jarett knows what equipment, food and toys to keep Toxi safe, productive and still able to have fun.