Puppies undoubtedly love to play. For young pooches, play is an essential part of learning and overall health. However, it’s not always a walk in the park to choose good toys for puppies. Dog toys not only help in keeping your furry friend occupied and prevent him from mischief, but they also play a vital role in emotional and mental development. They are a great solution to kill boredom, anxiety, and inappropriate chewing, which is common with most puppies.
Toy options for puppies are enormous, making it overwhelming to find the right toy for your dog. Some dog owners fall to buying a heap of useless toys, especially if they cannot accurately identify their puppy’s interest. This is certainly not the best idea as every dog’s toy of preference depends on the style of chewing and playing. That said, below is a guide on how to choose the best toy for your puppy.
Safety of the Toy
The first step to finding a good toy for your puppy is figuring out their safety level. Puppies are full of energy and may rip the toys into pieces any time and end up swallowing the parts. To avoid this, keep off buying your puppy toys that are harmful when swallowed. That said, the following toys are considered safe for puppy play. However, always keep an eye on your dog.
- Artificial bones made from nylon – they help with teething
- Hard rubber made balls and chew toys
- Knots made of thick rope
- Artificial bones made from rawhide materials or any other materials that can be safely swallowed.
Just to be on the safe side, the following toys can cause intestinal or digestion problems when swallowed and should be avoided.
- Toys with small and sharp metals such as pins
- Toys with fibers, thin ribbons or strips
- Cooked bones – cooked bones can break into highly abrasive fragments that damage the puppy’s digestive system with time.
- Toys with sheets of plastic film such as garbage bags – they are a choking hazard.
- Soft dog toys with foam stuffing
- Squeaky rubber-type pet toys
Additionally, consider adhering to the following general safety tips to choose good toys for puppies.
- Avoid excessively small toys that puppies can easily swallow or inhale.
- Examine all the parts of the toy to ascertain that there are no loose components or sharp edges that could cause scabs.
- Go for strong materials for puppies that are serious chewers. Vinyl and latex puppy toys are best for light chewers.
- Avoid giving your puppy household items such as strings, socks, ribbon, and elastic bands for play.
- Avoid toys stuffed with beads, beans, and polystyrene balls as they can easily develop punctures through which your dog can ingest the fillings.
- Throwing sticks is a common play method. However, avoid this if the sticks can cause injury to the puppy’s mouth. Sticks can as well injure the digestive tract when swallowed.
Types of Good Toys for Puppies
Puppies exhibit varying characters. While some like chasing things and chewing staff, others like to puzzle over strange items. Depending on your dog’s character, you should consider picking separate toys that augment their personality. Finding out your puppy’s character is basically trial and error, and you can get it right or wrong. However, if you notice that your dog likes chewing slippers and any other item he comes across, a chew toy would be appropriate. If you are not sure, consider buying a collection of toys representing different characters. Some common types of puppy toys include:
Interactive toys – These toys include sensory-stimulating toys and puzzles. Puzzle toys have treats that your puppy will try to remove successfully. Stimulating toys enhance the dog’s visual acuity, sense of smell, and hearing.
Outdoor toys – They are a good choice if you want your dog to enjoy the fresh outdoor air with plenty of exercise. Outdoor toys include dog pools that cool your pet during hot weather and rubber balls, among others.
Snuggle toys – Snuggle toys are best for anxious puppies. They enable the puppy to feel at ease, more so during the night when they are alone. Despite being soft, ensure that they are strong and durable.
Teething toys – Puppies begin to grow adult teeth after three to four months. Teething toys are beneficial during this stage. They are available in various shapes and sizes, with some containing cold water to soothe the sore gums and improve overall dental health.
Floating toys – These can be a good choice for puppies that love swimming. Such toys are often made from rubber, foam, and plastic materials to make it easy for your dog to grab them in water.
Tug toys – Some puppies like playing the tug-of-war. This form of play is important, as it shows the dog’s predatory nature. It is also a great source of mental and physical exercise.
Rope toys – These toys are made from braided rope and sometimes have plastic or rubber parts. Always monitor your puppy when playing with rope toys as they can easily shred and ingest the pieces, which can lead to serious gastrointestinal obstructions.
Plush toys – Nearly all puppies adore plush toys. Your puppy will carry them all over and try to tear them apart, just as they would do to real prey.
Good toys for Puppies: The Right Size
The size of the toy is an important consideration as it determines the safety of the toy. As mentioned before, avoid toys with small parts that can be swallowed easily by your puppy. Some types of toys, such as the Dachshund or Yorkshire terrier, are made from miniature breed puppies that are relatively small for big puppies like Labradors or Golden Retrievers. On the other hand, don’t choose extra-large toys that suit the jaws of adult dogs for small puppies. Buying such toys makes it impossible for the puppy to play without frustrations.
Consider the Age of Your Puppy
Different toys for puppies suit puppies of different ages. For instance, flying fabric disc toys are designed for adult puppies as they might be too large for small puppies to catch. Similarly, excessively interactive toys can be quite challenging for your puppy during developmental stages and cause frustrations. Therefore, always choose a toy that perfectly suits the age of the puppy. If you are not sure about this, consult a vet or read the instruction manual on the toy packaging carefully.
Good Toys for Puppies should be Durable
Puppies, like any other dog, have sharp teeth that can easily penetrate the toy. To avoid frequent wear and tear, avoid buying toys that are made from cheap materials that easily fall apart. Similarly, avoid toys made of excessively hard materials as they can fracture the enamel of the dog’s teeth. When searching, choose toys that are specifically designed to suit your puppy’s deciduous teeth.
Benefits of Toys for Puppies
Dogs, specifically puppies, thrive on slight stimulation and enjoy any form of play. They release positive energy when playing with toys, which stimulates their senses and boosts their cognitive abilities. There are many reasons why you should choose good toys for your puppy.
A good toy enables puppies to engage with the external environment. Puppies learn how to interact with you, other dogs, and people through play. Sharing the fun of playing with a toy with your puppy greatly strengthens the bond between you and the puppy. Through toy play, the puppy gets to differentiate between acceptable and unacceptable behaviors.
Toys are also beneficial as they keep your puppy occupied. Puppies tend to be explorative and play mischief when left idle or are bored in the house. If you find that your puppy spends a lot of time on its own, find her toys to keep her occupied.
Toys are also a source of comfort for puppies. Just like human beings, puppies are comforted by familiarity. Once the puppy identifies with several toys, they find the utmost comfort when around them.
Additional Tips on Choosing Puppy Toys
Apart from the above-mentioned tips, also check for the following:
- Avoid buying realistic-looking toys such as food or shoes for your puppy. Doing this will prompt your puppy to generalize things, making it difficult for the puppy to differentiate between toys and real stuff.
- Always buy a toy that suits your pet’s size, and not your size.
- Always supervise your puppy when playing with their toys, especially if it’s their first time. Doing this will minimize accidents.
Choosing Good Toys for Puppies – The Bottom Line
Whereas providing your dog with character-specific toys is important, you should consider providing your puppy with a variety of toys for all-around health and vivacity. With time, your puppy can inevitably get bored with specific toys. Therefore, it is prudent to rotate the toys regularly and buy new ones periodically. You should as well inspect the toys regularly, discarding any worn out or damaged toys.
Purchasing high-quality and unusually-shaped dog toys for small puppies is good. Buying kiddy pools for your puppy is also great as dogs adore chasing their toys in and out of water. However, for small-sized dogs, ensure that they can easily climb out of the water after getting wet and heavier. Make sure that the height of the pool’s sides is low to enable the dog to climb up easily.