Puppy Toys – How To Choose, What To Choose
Puppy teething toys are much more than things to chase and chew on. In fact, careful consideration is put into the production of various toys for dogs as they are meant to provide more than enjoyment. They are actually designed to do much more according to vets and breeders. The average dog toy will not only inspire hours of play and exploration, they are tools used to enrich training exercises, reduce boredom and most importantly, used to combat various behavioral problems.
So, essentially, when you treat your dog to a new toy you really are doing a lot more than spoiling your faithful companion. If anything, you are rewarding your best four-legged friend with a gift that he or she actually needs in their day-to-day lives in order to maintain a healthy balance between fun and work. What you may not be aware of is that your dog needs not just more than one toy, it needs more than one kind of toy to stimulate all the senses.
The Main Problem With Dog Toys
As much fun and function that one can expect from a good quality dog toy exists, there also exists a slight problem with choice. That is, if you could consider hundreds and thousands of different pet toys in aisles at the local pet food store a problem. However, a problem is buried deep within that incredible selection. The problem is that not all dog toys are equally made and the needs of the average dog are as individual as the dog owner’s fingerprints.
Then there’s an even bigger problem looming without the pile of potential dog toy products. Some of them are of poor construction and poor quality. These issues can result in potential hazards with your pet such as an injury of some kind sustained while at play. Even toys that may appear harmless at first glance can result in injury – or even death – in some pets purely by an accidental situation that could not have otherwise been projected or anticipated.
What The Potential Hazards Are
Toys with small parts that can come off during rough play present a choking hazard. This is why it is important to choose age appropriate toys for your family pet. Another potential hazard comes from the dyes used in the colors that various dog toys are made with. In fact, imported toys can also contain preservatives and chemical residue that may become toxic under normal playing situations.
This means where the toys are made will be important to consider
Because dogs will lick and chew their toys, any that may contain toxic heavy metals that are released from the saliva of your pet could prove to be potentially hazardous. These toxic chemicals have been linked to cancer and may also be poisons that can result in neurological health issues with your dog. Plus, toys designed for young children can become highly dangerous to the average dog which is why you should just give your pet toys designed for him or her.
Best Puppy Teething Toys
One of the best all-around choices for dog toys is something called a Kong
You’ve likely seen them, it’s an oddly shaped cone-like object that is made from material that will likely outlast your dog. The original Kong has a hole in it where you would stuff a treat inside. The idea behind the toy is that your dog would spend a fair bit of time chewing on the pliable material in an effort to get the treat. Eventually, that would happen. The Kong is manufactured by the Kong Company which is headquartered in Colorado, in the United States. The company has a full range of products that are actually created and designed for use by your dog at different stages in his or her life. The company has put a lot of research into the development of this line of products.
Here is a look at what Kong has available for your dog:
Puppy Toys – For Puppies Aged 7 to 12 Weeks
This early in the life of your puppy it is important to build a bond that positive, safe and encourages good behavior. It is also when your puppy will be exploring the world around him or her and experiencing new things. This includes textures, colors and overall feelings of belonging and setting boundaries of what is acceptable behavior. Also, don’t be worried if your puppy loses his teeth while chewing on these toys. Kong has a series of puppy toys available that are safe for young chewers.
1 – Kong Puppy
This is a line of rubber toys that are designed specifically for training purposes as well as for rewarding. The soft material is also ideal for assisting your puppy through the teething process. These smaller-sized Kongs also have a place where you can stuff them with treats.
2 – Puppy Wubba
Designed to promote all kinds of play activity including fetch and tugging games, this is a slightly different Kong product than the other puppy toy already mentioned. The primary difference is that it contains a squeaky noise which will pique your puppy’s curiosity.
3 – Kong Plush
Here is a unique plush puppy toy that is meant for companionship when your little four-legged friend has a nap or goes to sleep for the night. These soft toys are easy for your puppy to cuddle and it will make them feel safe and secure.
Puppy Toys – For Puppies Aged 3 to 9 Months
It is during this time in the life of your puppy when it starts teething and experiencing a growth spurt – one of many soon to follow. Chewing becomes more active as your puppy starts to build strength in his or her jaw for new games. However, as teething will be the main distraction, Kong toys were developed to address this very important phase in your puppy’s life.
1 – Kong Puppy
If you got your puppy one of these when he or she was younger, it is still an age appropriate toy for this time in their lives. It’s soft enough to allow for some serious chewing and strong enough to take the abuse of excessive chewing activity.
2 – Puppy Goodie Bone
This item is another chew toy that will also help keep the tender gums of your puppy from getting irritated and causing additional issues. The bone is also designed to hold treats which promotes chewing and playing.
3 – Puppy Flyer
As your puppy continues to grow at this age, play time and exercise go hand-in-hand. This Kong product is a flying disk-like object that promotes interactive games with your puppy and the humans in its life.
Puppy Toys – For Puppies Aged 9 Months to 1 Year
This is the equivalent of adolescence for your dog. It means that there is a need to fight boredom in an effort to prevent bad habits from forming. There will still be a lot of chewing activity as the stimulation of gums is a soothing feeling for your dog. It also continues to build strength in the jaw for eating and playing. There is Kong products made to address these needs.
1 – Kong Classic or Kong Extreme
These are variations on the oddly-shaped cone toy you would have given your dog when he or she was still a young puppy. These are larger in size and made to be tougher and able to withstand the stronger chew action from your now-older dog. Do you have a more aggressive chewer? If so, you may want to check out toys that are stronger and better able to withstand dogs that chew up regular toys.
2 – AirDog Squeaker Balls
As the name implies, these are balls that have a squeaker inside but are strong enough to withstand rougher play and interaction. Plus, these are also better for your dog than tennis balls as they do not contain an abrasive surface that can cause mouth irritations.
3 – Kong Wubba
If you bought one of these when your puppy was a little younger, it is still an age appropriate toy for this stage in its life. Designed for fetching and tugging, it’s not only fun, it’s a toy that will help your dog exercise and build strength.
Dog Toys – For Dogs Aged 1 to 7 Years
Now that your dog is considered an adult, it’s time to keep playing and reinforcing all the good habits he or she has developed. This is also the time in your best friend’s life where it will become its most active. Running, jumping, chasing, tugging and playing will all be important factors in the choice of toys at this stage. Plus, you don’t want your dog to become bored. To assist with that, Kong has a series of adult dog toys.
1 – Kong Extreme
As mentioned above, this is a great upgrade chew toy from the Classic or Puppy. The Extreme is primarily designed for dogs with strong jaws but it also suitable for most adult dogs as well. The chewing action will strengthen jaws, stimulate gums and promote healthy dental care.
2 – Kong Aqua
This variation on the popular line of Kong toys is meant for water play. It is made with a soft enough material that your dog can swim and fetch it without difficulty. Whether on the beach or in a pool, this fetch toy will create hours of fun, bonding and exercise time for both of you.
3 – Kong Wobbler
Here is another variation of an existing product but this one is designed specifically as a mentally stimulating treat and food holder. The wobbling action will produce hours of entertainment and will make your dog think and play.
4 – Kong Classic Flyer
This is an upgrade from the Kong Flyer which is designed for the more aggressive play of an adult dog. It is a disk-like toy that you toss in the air and it teaches your dog motor skills as it chases it and watches where it sails which can result in mid-air catches.
5 – Tugger Knots
Soft yet tough. These rope-like knotted toys are meant for fetching, chasing and tugging which exercises your dog in many different ways adding to his or her overall health and wellbeing. The construction of these toys is reinforced which would require excessive chewing to unravel.
Dog Toys – For Dogs 7 Years And Older
Your dog is now a senior. But like many other active seniors, dogs are no different. They still play and run and jump only they slowly become slower at it and eventually jump less and less. As your pet enters his or her golden years, there are some consideration required when it comes to play time and exercise, which they still need. Kong has a full line of toys for senior dogs.
1 – Kong Senior
This is another variation on the popular Kong chew toy. Only this one is made from softer material to take it easy on teeth and gums of older dogs. Just like the original, it is one of the favorites of dogs and dog owners. Treats can still be stuffed inside for your older dog to find.
2 – Kong Snugga Wubba
Another variation of an existing product, this addresses the need to keep your older dog active, mentally stimulated and feeling safe and secure. Made with a soft, fleecy outer fabric, this toy is perfect for your senior dog to curl up with at nap time.
Other Puppy Teething Toys
As you can see, Kong is clearly the leader in dog toy manufacturing simply because they have a full line of products that are created just for the different stages of life that your pet will grow through. However, there are other great dog toy manufacturers with great products. Here are the rest of the ones that made our list of the top dog toy choices:
1 – Go Dog
These stuffed chew toys are made in China. They are realistic plush toys that are enjoyed by many dogs but are probably not the best option for aggressive chewers. That being said, the manufacturer has created something they call Chew Guard Technology which is a fancy way of saying the process is different in the production of these toys making them stronger and more durable. These plush chew toys are double-stitched and have reinforcing. They can also be machine washed. Each of the Go Dog toys contains new material only which means there is no recycled materials involved.
2 – Planet Dog
This is another US-based company headquartered in Maine. They model themselves as a values-based company that manufactures a full line of age-appropriate dog toys in much the same manner as Kong but with a very different approach. Planet Dog toys are non-toxic fetching toys that are made from recycled materials. They also feature toys that cover the spectrum from soft to medium to hard depending on the age, size and breed of your pet. Larger dogs will also find toys that will keep them entertained, mentally stimulated and active. The Planet Dog website has online tools to assist you in choosing the perfect toy for your dog after you input a little information about your pet. Popular items include stuffed Alphabet Blocks for puppies to Slobber Wicks for seniors.
3 – West Paw Design
Add this Montana company to the list of US-based pet toy manufacturers. This company has an interesting twist in that they produce what they call environmentally friendly products. In fact, the company has developed a product used in the production of their toys called Zogoflex. It is basically a flexible and durable material that uses 10-percent post-industrial waste in its formula. Plus, you can return old West Paw Design toys back to the company after your dog has outgrown or destroyed it for recycling. Zogoflex is non-toxic and FDA-compliant and contains no known harmful chemicals. The popular item made by this company is called Tux. It is a toy that has an inner lip in the design where treats can be hidden. This creates a multi-level challenge as your dog plays with it and attempts to get to the reward. The Tux product also happens to be dishwasher safe.
4 – Nina Ottosson Zoo Active
This is a Swedish company that manufacturers an interesting dog toy. The line of products is a number of different wooden puzzles designed for dogs. The main idea is to create a mentally stimulating exercise for your dog. Once it completes the puzzle, it receives a treat. The trick behind solving most of the puzzles in the product line comes from pushing around the pieces with your dog’s nose as opposed to chewing the parts apart.
Additional Advice On Pet Toys
The above list is by no means the only choices available for good quality dog toys. However, the list above contains our top picks. As stated in the introduction, each dog has unique needs and with difference personality traits, what may work with one dog may not be the right choice for another. This is why it is important to spend time researching different dog toys. You can conduct your research online or by stopping into a local pet store and asking what toys are available and ask for recommendations.
Tips On Safe Dog Toy Activities
There are a few safety issues to consider when shopping for dog toys. It is always a good idea to do the following:
- Do not buy balls that contain just one air hole. It can create a fatal suction trap
- Do not use sticks or stones as dog toys they can break teeth or cause choking hazards
- Do not use toys that contain heavy dyes
- Do not use toys that have been treated in any way with fire retardants or stain guard
- Do not use soft plastics for dog toys
- Do not choose toys made for other pets, such as those made for cats
Here are a few more tips to make play time a fun time with your four-legged fur baby:
- Always supervise playtime and observe the interaction with toys
- Select toys that are age and size appropriate
- Do not let your dog play with toys that can work their way into the back of the mouth
- Choose toys that a fitting for the play style of your dog
- Always have a wide variety of different toys available for your dog
- Rotate the toys readily available to keep your dog interested in them
- Do not replace regular interaction with dog toys
Dog toys are much more than just play things. They are also not designed as substitutes for regular bonding with humans. If anything, the correct pet toys can become not just a fun play item but are important tools in training your dog tricks or for establishing good habits that will keep your pet from developing bad behavior traits. In all actuality, dog toys are meant to assist in keeping your four-legged friend healthy and happy in many ways.
There are dog toys that are meant to provide mental stimulation as they try to figure out how to reach the treat that is hidden inside them. There are others that are created just for chewing as your puppy grows through the teething stage. Some dog toys are for exercise with fetching, running, catching and jumping elements worked into their design. For older dogs, there are toys that provide comfort and relaxation in addition to play and gentle exercise.
When you consider that your fur baby will spend his or her entire life with you, it only makes sense that you’ll want to enhance that time with something fun. That usually results in the need for dog toys. If your dog happens to be an indoor pet, this is even more important. Without toys to play and stimulate you pet, they will resort to chewing on other things they can access. This typically means furniture, shoes and clothing. Toys keep this from happening.
Hopefully this article has been useful to you. We want you to have a great time with your dog and are convinced that one of the best ways to do this is through the introduction of dog toys. Remember to keep your dog on a well-balanced diet, don’t feed table scraps and provide fresh water at all times. To keep their teeth clean and bright, use chew toys and treats that are designed to both stimulate the gums and clean teeth at the same time.