Let's face it, dog toys are fun for you and your dog. But they are not only fun, they are kind of a necessity. Toys provide comfort and fight boredom in your dog. They can also be used in training to provide mental and physical stimulation to ward off undesirable behaviors in your beloved four-legged family member. When dogs are not provided toys in the household, they will often find other objects to use as toys. Often, the items they choose will be things that you do not want destroyed or big time safety risks.
There are many toys on the market and some of them are perfect for a canine. Other toys can be a waste of money or downright dangerous for your dog. So, how do you as a canine owner, wade through the endless rows of dog toys to find the perfect one for Fido? Let's start with safety:
Making Toys Safe:
- Size is important. Make sure the toy cannot be easily swallowed or lodged in your dog's throat. When choosing a toy, you must take into account your dog's size and behavioral tendencies.
- Cut off any ribbon, strings or "googly eyes" that can be ripped off and ingested.
- Supervise and inspect: Always keep an eye on what your dog is doing with the toy. Discard any toys that are starting to rip or break into pieces that can be ingested.
- Squeaky toys! Some dogs absolutely LOVE squeaky toys. Often, the squeaker is placed right in the middle of a stuffed toy and your dog will want to destroy that squeaker. Hence, a destroyed stuffed toy. Please supervise your dog during squeaky toy play. If your dog conquers the squeaky toy, discard the remnants... including the infamous squeaker, which can be a choking hazard.
- Check labels. If the toy is designed to be a people toy, but your dog really wants to play with it, check to make sure it is safe for children 3-years and under. Also, stuffing should not be made out of nutshells or those little polystyrene beads (ughhh). Your dog should probably not ingest any sort of stuffing, but nutshells and polystyrene beads are the most dangerous.
- Stuffed animals must be small enough for your dog to carry, but large enough that your dog can shake it.
- Rawhides--You should consult your veterinarian about giving your dog rawhides. These can give your dog serious obstructions. If you give your dog a rawhide, PLEASE supervise and always choose the right size for your dog.There are lots of other (safer) options for your dog that provides the same sort of chewing stimulation. Here is a quick list of alternatives.
- Rope toys with knotted ends make an awesome game of tug-o-war. Plus, dogs really like to do what I call the "shake-kill" maneuver on them.
- Kongs are an absolute favorite. You can fill them with frozen treats or just plain ol' treats and keep your dog busy for quite a while. Just make sure the Kong is the right size for your canine.
- Tennis Balls! They can be thrown, they bounce AND they get slobbery wet! It's a dog's dream toy. But again, frequently check for wear and tear.
- Busy Boxes-- These are large rubber cubes with hiding places for treats and provide mental enrichment for you dog.
- DIY enrichment games. Click here for ideas!
- Of course, you can always go local in Bozeman, MT. and buy West Paw toys. We love them at Bark City! They are an environmentally friendly business and they recycle some of their toys into new toys. You can find West Paw Toys in other states as well.