There are many factors that determine the level of safety or danger in a dog toy. Some of those factors are completely dependent upon your dog’s size, activity level, personal preference and the environment in which your dog spends their time.
Be very cautious when choosing toys. The toys that are usually the most attractive to dogs are often the very objects that are the most dangerous. Dog-proof your home by checking for string, ribbon, rubber bands, children’s toys, pantyhose, and anything else that could be ingested. Toys should be appropriate for your dog’s current size. Balls, stuffed animals, and other toys that are not dog proof need to be addressed by removing ribbons, strings, eyes, or other parts that could be chewed or swallowed. Avoid any toy that starts to break into pieces or have pieces torn off. You should also avoid tug-of-war toys, unless they will be used between dogs, not between people and dogs. Take note of any toy that contains a squeaker buried in the center. Your dog may have a desire to find and destroy the squeak source, which may easily be swallowed. Only allow use of these toys during supervised play.
- Active toys: very hard rubber toys. These are available in a variety of shapes and sizes. They are fun for chewing and for carrying around.
- Rope toys: These are usually available in many sizes with knotted ends.
- Distraction toys: Kong-type toys, especially when filled with treats can keep a dog distracted for a long time. The right size toy can keep a dog busy for hours. Only by chewing diligently can your dog access the treats, and then only in small bits.
- Comfort toys: Soft stuffed toys are good for several purposes, but are not appropriate for all dogs. For most dogs, the stuffed toy should be small enough to carry around in their mouth. This means the size of the toy will depend on the size of your dog. Dirty laundry, like an old shirt, pillowcase, towel, or a blanket can also be comforting to a dog, as long as they do not tear into them or create the potential of swallowing them.
Get The Most Out Of Toys
- Rotate your dog’s toys weekly by making only 4 to 5 toys available at a time. Keep a variety of types easily accessible. If your dog has a favorite, you should probably leave it out all the time.
- Provide toys that offer a variety of uses, at least one toy to carry, one to kill, one to roll, one to chase, and one to baby.
- Hide and seek is a fun game for dogs to play. If a new toy is found, it is often much more attractive and fun compared to a toy simply introduced and given to them. Making an interactive game out of finding toys or treats is a good activity for your dog, using up energy without the need for a lot of space.