HEALTH & CARE

Cool Dog Toys: How to Choose The Right One + List of The Best Options on The Market

Dog store with toys
John Walton
Written by John Walton

Engaging your dog with cool dog toys is definitely one of the best ways to help stimulate their learning and promote good behavior. These toys can teach your dogs to think creatively and to have fun while engaging in physical activities without resorting to becoming aggressive. Although toys seem to be trivial items that your dog can do without, toy manufacturers have gradually developed more innovative designs that serve not only to entertain your dog but also help them develop analytical and other intellectual skills.

So aside from giving your dog something to play around with, dog toys now can also teach your dog skills. So you may be asking: why would you need to spend a lot of time just looking for a great toy for your pet? Well the answer is that dogs are just like kids: they need time for play.

Just as what studies have indicated, adult dogs can be compared to two or three-year old children in terms of their understanding, emotions, and thinking. Aside from that, play also allows your pet to relax and it also releases some of the pent up stress that they have.

Dog with a toy

If we are going to apply the principles of how the human brain works, we can also say that play time can be one of the most effective ways to teach your dog anything.

Why invest in a good dog toy?

Investing in a high quality dog toy will only mean better results and benefits from your dog. Although price is definitely not a good indicator that the toy will be highly enjoyed by your dog, buying a cheaper one though could also mean exposing your dog to a lot of risks including ill-health or even death. Expensive toys come with high quality materials which add to their durability, and some of them are also well-designed which means a lot of thought and planning had been put into it.

These are just some of the reasons why a simple toy can be expensive but it also means saving your dog from any injuries and health risks due to poor materials and design.  Would you allow your pet to play with a toy which contains toxic chemicals or choking hazards just because they are cheaper and would save you some money?

Pudge braidz toy

Considering the fact that dog toys are an expense, we should therefore be able to justify if it is definitely worth spending money on. So here are a few of the advantages or benefits that dog toys can provide for your pet:

  • Toys provide intellectual stimulation for your pets. Whether you like it or not, toys are not only for fun and enjoyment they are also for learning, too. There are toys which are made not only to help your dog pass the time but also to teach him tricks and skills which are rewarded by food or treat.
  • Toys help prevent anxiety. We all know what it feels like to be bored and have nothing to do. This is the same with our pets. They also get bored and if you add to that the fact that you leave them eight hours a day on their own then you definitely can understand how that can lead to anxiousness. By giving them something that they can be happy and busy with while you are away, you will be helping them avoid one of the worst stresses that they can get in life.
  • Toys will help you bond with your pet. Toys also help to enrich the bonding experience that you can have with your dog through activities that allow you to interact with them. For example, there are toys with which you can play tug-of-war with your dog as well as items which can be thrown and fetched. Being able to play with your dog not only helps establish that bond that you have with them as their owner it also helps them associate good times with being with you.

What cool toys can you give to your pet?

There are a variety of toys that you can give to your dog but here are some of the best that are highly recommended.

  • Classic Kong toy. There are several reasons why the Kong has become a mainstay in dog toys and these are their affordability, safety, and creativity. Unlike other toys, they come with a very cheap price which is less than $10 while giving your dog minutes and hours of fun trying to get food out of this toy. Kongs are made from natural rubber material which makes them safe and durable and they also have varying toughness that will suit each type of “chew.”
  • Mammoth flossy chews 3-knot rope tug. This is a tug toy that also functions just like floss for your dog’s teeth. It is made of premium cotton-blend fibers which mean that they will not damage their teeth. Being 25 inches long, this toy also promises durability and hours of playtime for your pet.
  • Nina Ottosson’s dog brick puzzle. This is one of the most unique toys that you can give your dog especially if you have a very smart dog. The toy involved hiding dog treats in the puzzle which they can only get by flipping covers or sliding some tiles.
  • Hide-a-squirrel. This toy allows your dog to think analytically on how they can get the squeaky “squirrels” out of the tree trunk. It comes with plush materials that your dog will enjoy biting and chewing on. It also comes in different sizes so you can choose based on your budget or the size of your dog.
  • Kong rubber ball extreme. This is a highly durable rubber ball with excellent bouncing properties which will help your dog occupied. It has a puncture-proof design and comes with a three-inch diameter which makes them suitable for medium to large dogs.
  • Indoor Chuckit! ball. Just as its name states, this toy allows you to play fetch with your dog indoors. So, no matter what the weather is outside, you can still engage in an interactive play with your pet. It is made of a lighter and softer material so there is less risk of breaking anything if it hits something and it also comes with a Bounceflex technology which makes it bounce no matter what type of surface it comes into contact with.
  • Kong Pudge Braidz dog squeaker toy. This is a tug toy with soft weaves and colorful materials. What makes it interesting is the added squeaker in the middle which provides a more interactive play with your pet. Just like with other tug toys, it helps floss your pet’s teeth.
  • Kong squeakair. Instead of having your pet chew on a real tennis ball which can wear their teeth out, the Kong Squeakair allows them to exercise their jaws on a much safer material. The ball is also much softer than a regular tennis ball and it is also very bouncy. The added squeaking sound will also make your dog more curious when playing with it.
  • Nylabone puppy chew toys. This is a great teething toy for your puppy with just the right toughness for their developing teeth. It also has bristles which helps clean their teeth while chewing it. They also come with interesting flavors.
  • goDog Dragon plush toy. This is one of the best plush toys that you can get for your dog because of its durability and interactive quality. The toy comes with Chew Guard technology which means that your pet would not be able to destroy it that easily and it also has double-stitched seams for better protection. The squeaking feature also makes for a good interactive toy that can withstand a lot of wear and tear.
  • OurPet’s IQ treat ball. This toy is ideal for pets who love to play with balls not in the sense of chewing them but of rolling them around. It has a hard plastic material which dispenses treats through a small hole in the ball as it is rolled along. Your dog will then have to think of creative ways on how to let the treat out by manipulating how it rolls.
  • Tether tug. Unlike other types of tug toys, this one can be used even without the owner or another pet to play with. The bendable pole is stuck on the ground and a toy or rope can be attached on the other end. It can rotate in any direction and is very flexible which allows it to “bounce” the rope or toy around when your dog tries to pull it off.
  • Busy Buddy jack. This is a chew toy in the shape of a jack and this comes with a variety of materials with varying textures and toughness. If you have several dogs but you don’t want to buy three different chew toys for them then this can be a good solution. It has rawhide, soft rubber, and hard nylon parts so that there is something for everyone.
  • Bubbletastic bacon bubble machine. This machine blows bubbles that are safe for your dog to eat. The bubbles come in bacon flavor so your dog will definitely enjoy playing with them. This makes for a very fun activity especially during dog parties as anyone can participate.
  • Chase ‘n pull. This toy is suitable for very active dogs that have a strong prey instinct. It comes with a detachable want and flexible wand so you can easily change the direction of the braid rope or fur toy at the end and make for a very interesting chase.
  • Wooly Octopus tug. This tug toy is made of sheepskin materials making it ideal for puppies that love to catch prey. It makes for an interesting object that you can drag on the ground or make its tentacles jump that will definitely appeal to your dog’s curiosity.
  • Green feeder dog bowl. This dog feeder will give your dog quite a challenge with eating. Its surface comes with tall plastic grass blades that are distributed across it and which your pet would have to navigate in order to get their treats or food.
  • Squirrel dude. This is also a toy that dispenses treats with its Treat Meter through a hole in the middle similar to a Kong. It has several prongs near the hole which helps to limit the passage of treats so your dog needs to work harder.  It is made of sturdy rubber but with the right give that also makes it’s a good chew toy.
  • Henrietta the chicken. This is a squeaky stuffed toy which comes in the form of a chicken wearing a bikini. It is made of natural latex shell and is hand-painted with lead-free materials. It comes in several sizes and is guaranteed to be safe for your dog.
  • iFetch. This is a good toy if your dog is fond of playing fetch. It has a machine that launches the ball automatically and can easily be filled with new ones by just dropping them on a hole. You can even teach your dog to reload the ball so he can play by himself.
  • Safestix. This is a better alternative than wooden sticks for playing fetch. These are made of flexible plastic materials that can withstand a lot of chewing and biting. It comes in several colors and can float on water as well.
  • Home of paws rotator ball and rope. The ball-and-rope design ensure not only a chase or fetch game, it also is a good toy for tug-of-war. It is made of resin so you can expect it to be lighter than a regular ball but it is also more durable than rubber or plastic.
  • Aerobie dogobie disc. This is a Frisbee toy is made of rubber and not plastic so it is much softer for a dog to catch. It is made of durable rubber that is puncture and tear-proof that can make it last just as long as plastic ones.
  • Tuffies. If you have a pet that is a strong chewer then this is the right toy for them. Don’t be fooled with how these stuffed toys look like. Made to withstand even a lion’s bite, you can expect your dogs to play with them for a long time.

How do you choose the right toy?

Dogs can have different personalities just like humans so choosing the right kind of toy for them will depend upon careful observation. If you are buying them a toy for the first time then it can be a good idea to bring them with you to the store and allow them to “select” on their own.

Dog toys

They will be attracted to whatever entices them the most and it can be a good clue on which to buy.

  • If your dog is not a very active one, you may consider toys that stimulate them mentally instead of physically such as puzzles and chew toys that dispense treats. More active dogs on the other hand, will need toys that engage them in a lot of physical exertion such as Frisbees, balls, and toys that allow them to chase it.
  • When looking for a toy, you need to make sure that it is the right size for your pet. Buying something that is too small or too large for them will definitely pose some challenges and risks which you may regret afterwards. A toy that is too small can get swallowed and stuck on their throat or their intestines whereas one that is too big can either crush them or be too large for their jaws.
  • Durable toys can be good but you need to maintain their cleanliness. Although it is a good thing to have a highly durable toy, it can also mean that dirt and bacteria can also accumulate in it. As your dog continues to play with it, saliva and other materials will become lodged in the toy and it can become a breeding ground for these microorganisms if not washed regularly. Some pet owners tend to neglect this aspect of dog toys especially when they know that it is of “durable” material. Cleaning toys is also an important step if you have an allergic dog.
  • Find toys that are age-appropriate. Puppies will require softer toys and those that require little effort while adult dogs will need harder ones and can also engage in more physically demanding activities. Giving your puppy a hard chew toy, for example, will break their teeth or dislocate their jaws.

Just like you, your dog will also need some time off from all of the stresses in life and engage in a fun and enjoyable activity.

Their preoccupation with an interesting item will help prevent destructive behavior as they find more appropriate ways to make use of their energy. Giving your dog the right toys will not only help him get rid of boredom and prevent the development of anxiety, it can also serve as a good mental training. Make sure though that the toys you buy are durable and made of safe materials that are appropriate for his age and personality.

About the author
John Walton
John Walton

John Walton lives in Somerville, MA, with his two dogs, two sons, and very understanding mate. He is a Certified Pet Dog Trainer, a member of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants, a mentor trainer for the Animal Behavior College, an AKC Certified CGC Evaluator, and the Training Director for the New England Dog Training Club.

  • Vanessa Rogers

    My sister who lives in the other town just got a dog who’s lazy but very inquisitive. She’s so smart and figures out toys so quickly. We give her a marrow bone so she can at least have something to play with, and it dispenses a bit of food, too.

    Does anyone here have a cool toy for bright but lazy dogs? She hates Kong toys by the way, for reasons she alone knows!

  • Charlotte Kingston

    My best friend is at her wit’s end. Her pooch a Harrier Hound mix destroys toys so easily. Her dog dislikes Kong and prefers squeaky toys. Problem is, my friend has to buy toys frequently because she’s good at tearing them apart. She can’t afford buying new ones everday, though. Are there any toys that have worked for your pet? Any suggestions please?

    • Your friend can invest on a sturdy squeaky toy. This is more expensive than other squeaky toys but it can last way longer and has been tested for durability. That way, your friend doesn’t have to buy toys every so often.

  • You can tell your sister to bring her dog with her whenever she’s shopping for toys. Let the dog play with the toy, especially the toys that are more challenging to play compared to other toys in the store. also, alternate the toys every so often to keep the dog interested and active.

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