A Tip: Buy Two!
It’s a good idea for dog owners to always buy two toys right from the start, even if they only have one dog. Yes, dogs destroy their toys and yes, they might even get upset when their choice toy is suddenly not around – not all dogs connect the two events the first time they do it!
For when this happens (or when you need to put a beloved toy through the wash!), ensure that you bought an identical toy for your pet so they basically can’t tell the difference!
Mental & Physical Stimulation
Toys are a great way to give your puppy the mental and physical stimulation that they need. If you think about it, won’t you be bored and depressed if you didn’t have anything to do all day long? Your puppy will be restless and bored without toys to play with on a daily basis. Toys not only provide stimulation but they also fulfill their emotional needs. Even though dogs are meant to be companions for humans, they still need stimulation in other ways. Also, you will most likely not be available to play all day long, so if you don’t give your dog toys, they will look for other things to do, which may include destroying your house!
Provides An Outlet For Chewing
Dogs love to chew and puppies in particular are always looking for something to chew on. By providing toys for them to constantly chew, they won’t turn to your brand new sofa, rug and other expensive furniture. Toys can go a long way in managing destructive behaviors that manifest when they don’t have anything to do or to focus their chewing needs on. However, in order to ensure that they keep chewing on the toys and not on your belongings, you will need to have at least a couple different chewing toys of different shapes and textures that you can rotate. By rotating these toys, it will keep your puppy stimulated and happy.
You may be surprised to know that dogs get stressed just like humans do! Toys actually provide an outlet for relaxation and it gives them something to work out their stress. Most puppies will often take their favorite toy, sit down and contentedly chew on it for hours at a time. One of the best toys that promote relaxation are Kongs which actually looks like a beehive. These Kongs can be filled up with soft foods such as sweet potato, pumpkin, yogurt etc and then frozen. It will freeze in less than an hour and then you can give it to your dog who will need to figure out how to get to the food inside of it.
Gives You Alone Time
Even though you love your puppy with all your heart, I’m sure there are times when you’d wish they’d leave you alone for a bit! Toys are a great way to keep them busy and engaged and they won’t have time to bug you. This is particularly useful if you need to work, are expecting important guests etc. The Kong is a great toy that you can use to occupy your dog’s time and keep them busy.
Helps To Keep Them Fit
There are many different types of toys and it is important that you give your dog a variety of toys so they can enjoy all of the benefits. Activity toys in particular help to to keep your dog fit, prevent obesity and ensure their muscles and bones are strong. These type of toys promote a lot of movement which is great for your dog and will keep them moving which is definitely more desirable than a dog that is inactive all day. A few great activity toys include balls, Frisbees and fetch toys. Dogs have a lot of energy, depending on their breed. So, if you have a high energy dog that isn’t getting enough exercise, this will lead to destructive habits and even aggression.
Distraction During Stressful Situations
Most puppies get scared at some point because they are so new to the world and are experiencing everything for the first time. Some stressful situations include rain storms, thunder, lightening, fireworks, strangers, etc. This can lead to a lot of crying, hiding etc. Toys can be used to provide comfort to them and distract them during stressful situations. This will go a long way to help the cope with these situations and learn they aren’t so bad after all.
Toys can also be used as tools to train your puppy. If they have a favorite toy, then it can be used as a reward when they obey commands. This is a great alternative to using food based treats, which can lead to over feeding. Using the right toys can make training your dog a whole lot easier and a very rewarding experience for both of you.
Type of Puppy Toys
Now that you understand why your puppy needs toys, we will now take a look at some of the different types of puppy toys. It is important that you buy a variety of toys for your puppy as this will ensure they enjoy all of the benefits of playing with them.
Toys can be used to make your dog more intelligent and exercise their brains in addition to their muscles. Puzzle toys are usually meant to be used with treats where the treats are hidden in the toy and your puppy needs to figure out how to get to them. Since dogs are highly food driven, this is the perfect way to get them thinking. You’ll probably be surprised at how smart your pup is! It is also a great toy if your puppy has an injury or if it is too hot outside to play.
We have previously mentioned chew toys and these are basically toys that your pup can chew on for as long as they like. They are a great way for your dog to expend their excess energy as well as express their inherent need to chew while working out their jaw muscles. The type of chew toys that you buy should depend on your dog and if they are a heavy chewer, then you should get heavy duty chew toys that wont be destroyed easily.
These type of toys are exactly what they sound like – toys that glow. This is a fantastic toy to use at nights, especially if playing fetch. They will be much more visible to your pup and will ensure you can have fun with them, no matter the time of day.
Throw toys are probably one of the favorite toys of dogs that love to play fetch. These are toys that you throw and your dog will run after it and then return it to you so you can throw it again. They are fantastic for giving both you and your dog a cardiovascular workout. However, if you’re not in the mood to throw, there are throw toys that will actually throw the ball for you. You’ll have to train your dog to retrieve the ball and put it back into the launcher so that it can automatically throw it again.
Toys That Contain Treats
These type of toys allow you to put treats in them or even your dog’s favorite food. Once you give it to them, they will need to figure out how to get the treats out from the toy. These toys are fantastic for working their brain and giving them something to do. There are even toys that have different difficulty settings so that once your dog figures out how to easily get the treats out, you can increase the difficulty so that it becomes challenging once again. Some popular treat toys include the Kong, Kibble Nibble, Pickle Pocket, Tug A Jug etc.
Next, we’ll look at plush toys which are toys that are similar to teddy bears, except for dogs. These come in a wide variety of shapes and animals. Some of them have squeakers inside of them which puppies will absolutely love. There are others in the shape of animals with sliding limbs so they’re even more fun for your dog. These types of toys can both be stimulating or comforting and can be a great way to occupy your pup when you need to put them in their crate.
Tug of War Toys
One of the most fun games that you can play with your puppy is tug of war. There are lots of tug of war toys such as knotted ropes, ropes with tennis balls attached at the end etc. Tug of war toys are not only fun for your dog but also for you! It’s a great interactive toy that can improve the bond between you and your furry friend. If you don’t have the time to play tug of war, then there are even toys with a pole that you can insert into the ground with a rope that is attached to the top of the pole. This can allow your dog to play tug of war without you and for as long as he/she wants.
If you have a pool or live near a beach, river or pond, then you definitely need to get some floating toys for your dog. These types of toys are designed to float on water so you can up your game of catch with your dog.
Technology Based Toys
Technology is a part of our daily lives and you can now buy technology based toys for your dog so they don’t get left behind. These type of toys are meant to be activated based on sound (barking) or movement. Once on, it can take video of your dog and even dispense treats. You can use these toys to interact with your dog while you’re out or at work through the video and treat dispensing mechanism.
These types of toys have pre-recorded animal sounds or noises that change according to how your dog interacts with them. They can even allow you to record your own voice or other sounds. This is definitely a fun toy for both you and your dog as playtime is sure to be hilarious!
The ball toy may seem like a basic dog toy, but it has come a long way. These are so many different types of ball toys where you can get ones that are scented, have specific flavors, are hollow, contain treats, can float, come in different sizes etc.
If you want a traditional type of toy, then the bone toy is a great match. These can be actual hollow sterilized bones or plastic toys in the shape of bones. The traditional bone toy is quite tasty and your puppy will definitely love gnawing on it for hours at a time.
How to Choose the Best Toys for Your Puppy
We’ve just looked at the many different types of dog toys that are currently available. Within each category there are hundreds of different options to choose from and it can be quite confusing to select the best toys for your pup. So, we will now look at a few tips and guidelines that will help you to choose the best toys for your beautiful puppy.
Choose Toys That are the Right Size
You will need to take into consideration the size of your puppy as well as their breed when choosing toys. It is best to buy toys that are appropriately sized according to pup and not buy toys that are too small or too big. Toys that are too small will pose a choking hazard that you definitely want to avoid. You also don’t want to buy toys that are too big since your puppy won’t be able to get their jaws around it or play with it properly and this will lead to a great deal of frustration. You should also think about the breed of your dog, for example if you have a miniature breed such as a Yorkshire Terrier, then you should get toys that are specifically meant for these miniature puppies. If you have a large breed dog such as A German Shepherd or a Golden Retriever, then these puppies would be much larger and would need larger toys to play with to prevent the risk of choking.
Pay Attention to the Materials
The last thing you want to do is buy toys that are made of toxic materials that will hurt your dog. So, always check to see if the toy is made from dog safe materials first before purchasing. Also, when buying toys for your puppy, you should keep in mind that puppies have quite sharp teeth and are generally destructive. So, you should avoid toys that are flimsy or seem like they will fall apart or be ripped apart easily. However, this doesn’t mean that you should only buy toys that are very hard since this can also damage the enamel on their teeth. You should always check and inspect your puppy’s toys on a regular basis and throw away ones that are worn out or on the verge of being destroyed to ensure your pup doesn’t get damaged by them.
Age Appropriate Toys
You should buy toys that are age appropriate, especially when your dog is a puppy. For example, you shouldn’t buy a full sized Frisbee for your puppy since it will be too big and heavy for them to catch. Also, if you want to buy puzzle toys, then don’t buy ones that are too difficult according to the age of your pup. If the toy is too advanced for them, this will only lead to anger and frustration. You can always talk to your vet to determine the best puzzle toys for your puppy according to their developmental stage.
Pay Attention to Your Dog
Dogs, just like humans are individuals and no two dogs are alike. Therefore, in order to determine the best toys for them, you need to pay attention to their individual personalities. For example, if you have a very shy and gentle dog, then it may be best to get soft and comforting toys as oppose to harder ones meant for biting. If your dog is very aggressive and likes to “seek and destroy” then you should get toys that they can destroy, however, make sure it doesn’t have any internal parts that they can swallow.
Safety First – Safety Tips For Your Puppy Toys
Now that you understand how to choose the best toys for your puppy, we’ll now take a look at a couple of safety tips.
Beware of Small Parts
Your puppy is more likely to ingest the small parts within any toys. As a result, you should thoroughly check all the toys that you decide to buy and ensure they don’t have any bells, small balls, squeakers etc. You should also avoid buying soft plastic toys that they can easily tear apart since they will likely ingest those small pieces of plastic as well.
Look For Any Rips
If you have any plush toys, then the chances are high that they’ll start to tear at some point. Even if you buy the heavy duty ones, rips can still occur. So, you should regularly check your puppy’s toys and if you see ones with any rips, you should throw them out and get new ones. These types of plush toys have filling that you definitely don’t want in your puppy’s stomach.
Check Rawhide Chews
Many people like to give their dogs and puppies rawhide chews since they are delicious and all dog’s seem to love them. However, you should also keep an eye on these chews, especially when they start to get soft or break apart. Once they start to show any of these signs, you should get rid of them asap. It is also best to avoid buying rawhide chews that are made in China and stick to ones made in the USA or endorsed by USA companies.
Check Rope Toys
Many rope toys are made of rope but these are commonly connected with rubber or plastic. So, you should keep a close eye on your puppy’s rope toys since they may ingest the plastic from a broken one. Once you see any signs of breakage, be sure to throw it out and get a replacement.
Look For Indestructible Toys
If you have a larger breed puppy such as a Pitbull, Rottweiler or Mastiff, then you need to look for toys that are indestructible. These types of dogs have insane jaw strength, even though they’re still puppies! It is best to choose chews and toys that are heavy duty and throw them out when they start to break or wear out.
Supervise Play Time
Puppies are always up to mischief and that is often very dangerous mischief. As a result, you should supervise as much of their playtime as you can, to ensure they don’t hurt themselves. Even if you’re at work, you can use video technology to keep a watchful eye on them.
Avoid Toys With Toxic Chemicals
It is important that you avoid buying toys that have dangerous and toxic chemicals in them such as phthalates and bisphenol-A which is otherwise known as BPA. You should always check that the toys you buy are BPA free. There are many other materials and chemicals which are toxic to dogs, so you should look into buying toys that are mostly made of organic materials and don’t have a chemical smell.
In closing, we have just looked at why puppies need toys, the different types of toys that are available, tips on choosing toys as well as a few safety tips to keep in mind. This information will go a long way in ensuring that you find the best puppy toys possible that are not only interesting and engaging for your puppy but will ensure they are happy in their new home.