Some dogs love to chase balls, others enjoy plush type toys or squeaky toys. Most people just step into the dog store and buy whatever their pets pick out. Dog toys can be divided in 4 big categories.
The 4 main types of dog toys
Chew Toys for Your Best Friend
These toys are designed to be chewed on regularly. Your dog should have free access to chew toys all day long. This helps keep them calm. It’s also a must have or puppy owners.
Chewing releases endorphins that calms your dog down. We love the Kongs for that. We use our dog’s regular dry food to fill up the toy. This ensures a little bit of peace for us and a lot of fun for our doggo. Bonus: you aren’t feeding them fatty or high calory snacks if you use their dry food.
Chew toys are great to help:
speed up crate training
minimize isolation distress
help with separation anxiety (but we recommend you look into thundershirts nonetheless)
Dental Toys to Avoid Plaque
It’s like an augmented chew toy. It is made to improve blood flow in the gums and improve dental hygiene. These toys are full of nubs, ridges and other interesting textures to help your dog’s teeth stay sparkling clean.
Dental toys can be left out in free access if you monitor your pet. Dental toys should be checked after each play time. We noticed that Nylabones get damaged super fast because we checked every time. We decided to save money and invest in something else as a result.
Interactive Toys for Mental Stimulation
Interactive toys are balls, tug ropes, puzzles and games. These are things your dog interacts with on a higher level. They provide intellectual stimulation which is very much needed for your pet. These are not freely accessible toys for your dog. You decide when you play with them together.
You can opt for a tug toy without squeakers for your dog. It will help keep your dog from going bonkers over the sound. Playing tug with a puppy helps them develop a soft mouth. Every dog has to learn “take it” and “drop it”. Interactive toys are a great way to teach that to your dog.
Our dog has a bad habit: dissecting the toys to get the squeaker out.
Plush Toys for Dogs
These are stuffed animals or stuffingless flatties. They come in endless shapes and sizes for all kinds of dogs. Plush toys are the most misused toys. Many owners allow their dogs to destroy their plushies. This could also mean that your dog could start going after slippers.
Plush toys are for teaching, not tearing apart. You start with tug toy to teach them to take the toy and drop it. You can then substitute the interactive toy and end with a plushie. You have to teach your dog to treat their plush toys gently. This is something I wish we knew before hand!
Our dog has an odd habit: she humps her bigger plush toys. It’s hard for us to reinforce positive training while busy laughing like loons at our miniature female dachshund humping a rainbow llama plush toy.
How to Use Dog Toys?
This is what usually happens in regular households: you will buy tons of toys for your dog and leave them available like an open buffet. We can do a lot better than that!