How to Choose the Right Toy for Your Dog
Veterinarian Reviewed on June 16, 2009 by Dr. Janice Huntingford
Every dog owner knows the value of a good dog toy. But do you know how to choose the right toy for your dog?
Never confuse a dog toy with being a luxury item for your dog. Dog toys are vital to the physical and emotional wellbeing of your dog. Dog toys are able to keep a dog happy, mentally stimulated and also help burn off excess energy.
There are so many toys to choose from in the pet store these days. Some toys are designed for your dog’s mental stimulation, whilst other toys are meant for games of fetch and tug of war. With soft, fleece toys your dog has something warm to cuddle up to at night.
However, with all these choices, it is understandable why some dog owners are confused about which toy to buy for their dog.
When choosing a toy the first thing that it should do is to keep your dog’s interest. If it doesn’t it will just end up as another toy on the floor. The second most important aspect of a good dog toy is its durability factor.
The toy has to be able to withstand your dog’s chewing and playing aggressiveness. If the toy you choose has neither of these two factors, then you have surely wasted your money on a toy that your dog will never play with.
However, there are three easy questions you should first ask yourself before purchasing a toy for your dog.
1. Will my dog find this toy entertaining?
2. Will my dog be able to rough-house with this toy?
3. Is this a safe toy for my dog?
You will know that you have the right toy for your dog when you are able to answer ‘Yes’ to all three of these questions.
However, there are a few other questions that you should also ask yourself before selecting a dog toy:
1. Does your dog like to chew?
2. Does your like to play fetch or tug of war?
3. Does your dog like to snuggle?
4. How does your dog like to play?
5. Is your dog hyperactive or pretty docile?
These questions are designed to help you to better understand how your dog likes to play, and by understanding this you will be able to choose a toy that will best match your dog’s personality and play endeavors.
When you have narrowed down your choices, you should then consider how the toy is made. Is it made of hard rubber that can easily be cleaned with a wet cloth, or is it made of soft material that requires the toy to be machine washed in order to get clean?
Judging by the size, shape and materials used, do you think that the toy will last or will your dog destroy it quickly?
Also look at the toy carefully to see if there are any small pieces that can fall off or parts that your dog can easily chew off and swallow. The toy should be designed for the appropriate size of your dog. A dog toy that is too small might cause a large breed dog to swallow it and choke, whereas a toy that is designed for a large breed will be too difficult for a small dog to play with.
Keep in mind that dogs who love to chew should never be given toys to play with that are either made of rope or are stuffed with batting. The reason for this is that loose bits of string, fabric, stuffing and even small parts such as a stuffed animal’s plastic eyes, can be very easily ingested if these dog toys are chewed apart. These can cause a dog to choke or cause a life-threatening intestinal blockage.
Even if the dog toy manufacturer states that their toy is ‘indestructible’, a dog that has enough determination can and will destroy any toy.
Once you have chosen the right toy for your dog, you should always supervise your dog’s playtime with the toy. Periodically check the toy for any substantial wear and tear caused by your dog’s playing. It is best to throw a toy away as soon as it starts to fall apart. Keep a few of your dog’s most favorite toys stocked away somewhere in your home so that you can quickly give your dog a replacement for the toy that you are throwing out.
Once you have a good selection of dog toys, you can then rotate them on a weekly basis. This will prevent your dog from becoming bored too quickly.
Your dog will also love it if you can play with him and his new toy together, so be sure to choose a toy that you like as well.
Photo Credit: KaCey97007
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Janice Huntingford, DVM, has been in veterinary practice for 28 years and has founded two veterinary clinics since receiving her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine at the Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph. She has studied extensively in both conventional and holistic modalities. Ask Dr. Jan