Providing a variety of toys can help ensure that your dog has an outlet for some really important activities that they need to carry out – eating, chewing and, of course, playing.
These five toys will give you a good head start in addressing some of your dog’s natural instincts.
Most dogs love to chase a toy, but dogs that have a herding instinct or a high chase drive will particularly enjoy playing ball with their owners. This is a great way of building a bond with your dog and training them to ‘drop’ and ‘leave’. A ball on a rope works best because they can’t be swallowed and allow you to play tug of war too!
Make sure that any balls are the appropriate size for your dog and aren’t small enough to cause your dog to choke.
Kongs are a fantastic way to keep your dog entertained and mentally stimulated. They work by stuffing treats into the toy and letting your dog snuffle and lick them out. For added longevity, and on hot days, you can try stuffing a Kong with peanut butter or cream cheese and freezing it.
A squeaky toy triggers your dog’s natural instinct to pounce and shake. This is usually played independently of their owners or you can throw them for your dog. Squeaky toys can also be used to get your dog’s attention, though beware that they may also overexcite your dog.
These toys can come in different shapes and sizes and you will need to find one that suits your dog’s size and play style.
Please note: Some dogs may want to kill the squeaker, so your toy may not last long!
Dogs get a great deal of satisfaction out of playing with their owners, and a ragger or rubber ring toy allows you to play tug of war with your dog.
Some people avoid playing tug of war because they worry it will encourage their dog to be controlling and aggressive. However, most dogs actually find this really exciting and, if this is your dog’s favourite game, they will find ways to play that may be out of your control, like grabbing clothing. So it’s a good idea to train your dog how to play tug of war with specific toys only and set some ground rules so that you begin and end the game on your terms.
Dogs are smart and love a puzzle. A treat ball allows you to feed your dog their daily meal in a fun, interesting way that switches up their usual feeding routine.
It works by placing either treats or your dog’s meal portion of dry food into the hole at the top of the ball and placing this in front of them on the floor. Your dog will then use their nose and paws to bat the ball around and are rewarded when bits of food fall out of the hole in the ball.