For any dog owner that is interested in the physical and mental wellbeing of their dog, investing in dog toys is an absolute necessity. Now, there is more to getting dog toys than just strolling to the store and picking up random stuff.
There is an art to it. You have to first understand how important the dog toys are to your dog. It is in understanding and appreciating this that you can effectively pick the right toy for your dog.
Of course, you also have to be aware of what not to buy. All these and more are what we will be discussing in this article. So stay with us and all your questions will be answered and your doubts cleared.
Why Are Dog Toys Necessary?
On the surface, it might seem like all dog toys are useful for is getting your dog busy or distracted. However, Canine Journal gives us some other very important reasons why you need to get some dog toys for your dog.
Of course this is the major case for the existence of dog toys. It gives your dog a very good workout. Toys like balls and Frisbees can be used to play catch. And with the dog bounding off every once in a while to catch or find the toys, he burns off calories and stays fit in the process.
This protects him against issues like overweight and obesity which are just openers to health issues like diabetes. Just getting the right toys for your dog goes a long way in helping him keep fit.
Also, exercising is a way for your dog to let out all the excess energy bundled up in his body. And if he properly exhausts himself, he will sleep through the night and so will you.
It is not just enough to get them engaged physically, they also have to be engaged mentally. And the dog toys do that for them. Some of these toys have a kind of simple complexity to them that gets them trying to figure the toys out.
The reason you want your dog mentally engaged is that you don’t want him to get bored. Because if he gets bored (especially large breeds) he could engage in destructive behavior and become quite difficult to handle.
All dogs are, by nature, pack animals. What that means is that they always want association and bonding. Now that they live with us, we are honorary pack members and it is our duty to provide them that sense of association.
This is where the toys come in. Play time can be very engaging, interactive and fun. This gives your dog the feeling of being a member of a pack.
Also, if your house is home to not just one dog, they can have their mini pack within the main pack; sharing toys and all. It is in sharing the toys that each dog understands where he stands in the whole hierarchy thing. And this is very vital in every pack.
Your dog’s dental health should be very important to you. Because poor dental health leads to all sorts of things like plaque, tooth ache and loss and of course bad breath. So you have to take your time to brush his teeth or take him to the veterinarian to have his teeth surgically cleaned.
However, because it is general knowledge that a good number of dogs do not like having their teeth brushed and surgical cleaning is quite expensive, dog toys have been designed to help clean dog teeth.
The toys are not to replace the brushing or the cleaning, they are just to reduce the frequency at which you would have had to do them. How it works is, your dog chews on the toy and the chewing stimulates the secretion of saliva which reduces plaques and their recurrence.
Toys work much the same way that treats work during training. They can be used as a form of incentive and/or reward to get your dog to obey commands. He learns to associate his obedience to certain commands to receiving his favorite toy.
All these are the good you do your dog just by buying some little objects for him.
Types of Dog Toys
Dog toys exist in their numbers. However, basically every dog toy falls into any one of these categories as given by Hillspet
There are many different kinds of balls. Tennis balls, squeaky balls, glow in the dark balls, rubber balls. There are a lot of toy options you can choose from in the ball category and it is amazing.
Also, there are balls of different sizes. The one you decide to go for will be dependent on what you want your dog to use it for. If you want to get him a ball that he’ll just push around, you can. You could also get him the one that you can play fetch with; something that fits in his mouth without him swallowing it.
If your dog is going to be sinking his teeth in the ball, get something that he won’t shred easily.
Tug Dog Toys
These are toys that your dog can use to play the game of tug with you or even other dogs. And no they are not always made of rope; there are fire hose, leather and even linen tug toys.
Some people shy away from these toys because they feel they promote aggression. However, if your dog is properly trained this shouldn’t be a problem at all. He should know to stop or drop the rope whenever you say so.
In fact, this is an awesome way to help your dog build upper body strength. Now be sure not to pull too hard on the rope when playing tug with him. The idea is not to get him to release the rope but to get him to do a good workout and have fun. Don’t turn it to a fight.
Also, don’t use the rope in pulling your dog upwards that could have very devastating repercussions for your dog.
Chew Toys and Treats
These are toys designed to be chewed on and some of them allow you to put treats in them. Dogs love to chew on stuff and if left alone, some can chew you out of home and board. So, just give them something that was designed to be chewed on to chew on.
Since they are meant to be chewed on, be careful about their durability. The toy should not be too tough that it poses a threat to your dog’s dentition. They should also not be too soft that your dog chews through tons every day.
Typically, chew toys are made out of hard rubber or nylon. As your dog grows from pup to adult, the chew toys will also have to increase in toughness.
Plush Dog Toys
These toys are basically pup toys. Kinda like their snuggle buddies. However, these toys have the potential to cause trouble. They are usually made of cloth and stuffing and if your dog has teeth he could chew through and even ingest.
So it’s best to keep the plush toys to your pups who have not started teething. Be sure to let them know what is theirs and what is not though.
Dog Toys And Safety
When buying toys for your dog do not buy toys that are too small. Your dog could swallow it or worse still get it lodged in his throat. So buy something that is appropriate for his size.
If the toy has stray parts like eyes, ribbons, strings and such be sure to remove them. Your dog could pull them off and ingest them which is very terrible.
If he owns a squeaky toy be sure to monitor him as he plays with it. Remember the thing about curiosity killing the cat? It could also kill the dog. He could get very curious about what makes the toy squeak and try to open it and even end up swallowing.
Do away with any toy that is torn or broken.
Dogs should not be made to play with children toys so keep children toys out of the reach of dogs. On the flip side, buy dog toys that are not harmful to kids because kids have a habit of getting into things.
In picking a dog toy for your dog, factor in his size, his age and of course his chewing intensity. If he is an aggressive “chewer”, get toys that will withstand even the most aggressive chewing. However, don’t try to solve one problem with another by getting chew toys that are tough enough to cause dental problems.
Chew toys should be washable and washed. These things enter your doggie’s mouth. In fact, they were designed to live in his mouth. So make sure that they are always clean.
Dog Toys That Are A No Go
Chewy lists some of them as
You know those things that give of light reflections on surfaces like walls? They might seem like a brilliant idea to get your dog active while not stressing yourself but is a very terrible idea.
The problem is your dog starts to chase down any light reflection he sees even those that bounce off car windscreens. Also, the game is kinda pointless because your dog never gets the object of his chase.
If you toss him a ball, he fetches. If you tug on a rope, he tugs back. But if you laser point, what’s the point? He never catches it, he gets frustrated and might develop OCD or start developing aggressive tendencies.
Human toys are not for dogs. Do not allow your dog near them. Your dog is not as gentle on toys as human children are. So in playing with the toys he could dislodge some things and end up swallowing them.
Dog toys are designed with dogs in mind and that is why they are safe, for the most part. Keep the human toys for the the human kids (or adults).
These are dangerous because pressure has only an entrance, no exit. So when pressure builds in the toy, it has no way of escape. Making the toys potential instruments of torture. The balls you buy should either have two holes or no holes at all.
There are some toys that are unsafe for dogs. Unfortunately, there aren’t bodies that regulate the production of these toys. The best you can do is to pay close attention to the “made in”. The reason is, some dog toys contain toxins and you know what that spells for your dog.
Very quickly we will show you how to determine dog toys that have toxins. It’s not very comprehensive but it is something.
Dog Toys Test
The Ecology Center runs a project called Healthy Stuff where they test a ton of different pet products. They created a library of their results and we think checking them out will help you rule out some toys.
The FDA also has a list of some pet products it recalled from the market. You could also check that.
As we said, these things are not very comprehensive but we would say that they are worth the shot.
It is never out of place to consult with your veterinarian before making a lifestyle choice for your dog. And yes getting dog toys for them is making a lifestyle choice.
Be particular about all toys but most importantly chew toys. Those things live in your dog’s mouth which is a pathway to the digestive system. If you are still in doubt as to which toys are safe, consult your vet and let them help you out in that area.
Do not buy anything you are not sure of. Your dog’s safety is in your hands.