Dogs

Picking the right dog toy

We’re all aware of the age-old fact – toys and dogs go hand in hand. We buy our dogs the best of toys and quite a variety at that, but most of them lay unused and unchewed! While we watch in wonder, our dogs seem fine with playing with sticks and stones. As enjoyable as sticks might seem, there is quite a chance of the apparent toy to break into small pieces that may cause a GI obstruction at the least. That said, it is essential to buy dogs toys that are durable, entertaining, and safe.

Before choosing the right dog toys, it is important to consider the following –

Safety

Dog owners can’t sit and watch their dogs play with toys the whole day, right? Besides, toys are also meant for dogs to entertain themselves. However, some toys risk a dog’s safety and hence, we need to be more aware when we buy them. Toys with attached strings, bands, ribbons, metal twines, plastic eyes etc. need to be given to dogs only under supervision. If you want your dog to play with toys alone, choose safer and more durable ones.

Age

Let’s face the hard fact : our dog’s age over time much against our consent. With age, our dogs need different dog toys to satisfy both physiological and psychological needs. For example, puppies most often require chew toys, and older dogs require interactive toys that work on mental stimulation.

Breed

Sometimes, the breed of the dog plays an important role in choosing a dog toy. Gun dogs like the Irish Setter, Golden Retriever, Cocker Spaniel etc. take well to toys that they can retrieve, or even better, ones that look like birds. On the other hand, hounds like the Beagle, Bloodhound, Basset Hound etc. prefer ones that work their best organ – the nose. Consider your dog’s breed before buying a toy – sometimes, the ‘right toy’ is closely associated with the breed.

Dog’s preference

Always give your dog a choice. If possible, take him to the pet store to choose from a wide range of toys. For all you know, you might be surprised by the one he picks ! When visiting the pet store isn’t possible, there are other ways to ensure you pick the right dog toy –

Balls

Not every dog likes to play ball. But, if yours does, then you must have a collection of all sorts of balls! Choose different ball toys – squeaky, plush, bouncy, those that are meant for water, and those meant for land. When you choose different ball toys, your dog doesn’t get bored of playing with only one type. In other words, she will not channel her energy onto other things once she gets bored with the ball. When buying ball toys, remember to choose
durable ones – some ball toys tend to tear into tiny pieces over time and can cause gastrointestinal obstructions if swallowed. Lastly, choose balls that fit right in your dog’s mouth. A ball too small can end up in a choking catastrophe, while ones too big can hurt the jaw.

Ropes

Ropes – for the dog that loves to play tug! Just like balls, ropes need to be checked for durability and safety. At times, there are rope toys that are filled with dangerous pieces of twine or string. Ropes are fun toys for almost any dog – fetchers, chewers, nibblers, retrievers etc. Remember to throw away the rope toy once it begins to unravel and ends up becoming dangerously long.

Food-dispensing puzzle toys

Food-dispensing toys are a great way to help with boredom and separation anxiety because they work on mental stimulation and encourages the dog to channel all her unfocussed energy onto getting the treat out of the toy! Regardless of whether your dog suffers from boredom, food dispensing toys are a fun way to get your dog to work her mind.

Yakkies and other bones

Bones are an all-time favourite, aren’t they? As much as you enjoy shopping for them, remember to choose the right bone for your dog. Older dogs tend to prefer bones that are soft: made of cloth, nylon, or cotton. Younger dogs and puppies enjoy bones that are chewable like Yakkies and rawhide. Whichever bone you decide to give your dog, make sure that it is durable, safe, and of good quality.

Interactive dog toys

Like puzzle toys, interactive toys are used to curb boredom. When dogs were initially bred, they were meant to help humans in hunting and gathering. Their brains crave work even today. Although we don’t require them to hunt anymore, the least we can do is give them toys that stimulate their mind.

Water Toys

For dogs who love the water, and enjoy playing in it as well – water toys are a must! They are made of a material like foam, rubber, silicon etc. and although most of them are durable, be sure to check for strength since most toys tend to tear after good use.

Plush Toys

A common perception of plush toys is that they are meant for dogs from the toy group. This couldn’t be further away from the truth. Plush toys are great for endless days of fun. As long as they played with under your supervision, plush toys translate to endless days of fun. Most older dogs prefer plush toys because they’re soft to hold and easy to carry around, while puppies enjoy chewing on them.

Discs

Discs are another great toy to play fetch with. They fly further than do sticks, rods, or bones and are an excellent way to exercise your dog at the park.

When it comes to dog toys, the benefits are endless – curbs boredom, minimizes digging and barking, helps with separation anxiety, eases the teething process, and assists weight management. Choose toys that will benefit your dog, and use them on a rotational basis so as to prevent your dog from getting bored with them.

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