We would do anything for our dogs. If they want to take a walk, then we go for a walk. If they want to go outside to play for a while, then we go outside to play with them.
It’s a good life, living with dogs.
It becomes even better when we have the right toys around for them when it is time to play. The pure joy that is given when a favorite toy is found is a perfect moment. These are the best dog toys that can help to make that happen for you.
Why Should We Be Playing with Our Dogs?
Recreational activities are one of the best ways to begin building lasting friendships. Think about it. When was the last time you worked on a friendship while trying to be a deadline at work? You have conversations with co-workers during your down time or when you’re away from work. It is those moments that create friendships.
The same is true for our dogs. When we spend time playing with them, it helps to form a lasting bond between us and them. It allows the dog to understand our signals and lets us begin to discover what our dogs like, what they love, and what they hate to do.
That also creates a problem. Human play signals are different from dog play signals. When someone wants to play with their dog, they might tap on the floor. Sometimes a lap or leg might be patted. There is a change of voice as well, often to a whisper.
For many dogs, the typical response goes something like this: “What are you doing, strange human?” You might get the ears forward and the head tilted, but no actual play time.
It’s when human play signals match the play signals for a dog that success happens. Humans that run toward their dogs, especially with a voice command that can be learned, like “Let’s play!” creates a better response. Add in a toy to that mix and you’ve got a recipe for success.
Playing with dogs does more than build a relationship with them. There are three key benefits that come with a regular play time as well.
- Dogs become more obedient. A dog that has behavioral challenges is a dog that is disengaged from its human companion. In the act of playing, a dog becomes more receptive to other commands that can help to control negative behaviors. It doesn’t matter if the dog is allowed to win or not. Dogs that are “pushy” or always in your personal space are the dogs that need extra time for playing.
- Dogs become less anxious. Many dogs suffer from separation anxiety when their human companions leave for work and stay away all day. That fear is what leads to unwanted behaviors, such as chewing furniture, scratching doors, or figuring out how to access the apple pie that was put on the top shelf of the cabinet. Playing with a dog on a regular basis reduces this fear, which reduces the behaviors that are triggered when that fear is present.
- Dogs become more social. Playing reduces the hierarchical pack structure that drives behaviors. When chasing or tackling, “rank” doesn’t matter. Role reversals can even occur with such a game. Not only does this help dogs become more social around other dogs, but it also helps them stay comfortable around other humans.
Every dog benefits from having time to play. Even shelter dogs have reduced behavioral issues, even if there are horrible stories of abuse or neglect in their personal history, when people genuinely engage with them to play.
Any type of play is good. Playing with dog toys, however, builds skills that you and your dog can use every day.
What Is the Best Way to Play with a Dog?
The best way to play with a dog, especially one that might be somewhat suspicious of what you are doing, is to engage their senses. Cesar Millan suggests that the best way to stimulate the mind of a dog is to challenge them, through scent, to explore new things.
Instead of letting the dug run wild, use dog toys that stimulate the nose to create a structured, productive time of play that can be fun for everyone.
There are two ways that a dog will play: as a breed and as an individual. Both must be challenged for the play time to be successful.
One easy way to engage a dog’s senses is to incorporate food with dog toys. Something as simple as peanut butter in a dog toy can be enough to encourage an inactive dog to become active.
Then get creative. Hide toys all over your yard for the dog to find them. Place the scent of certain foods so they can be hunted down, but turn it into a puzzle component by only placing one dog toy with food somewhere to be found.
Discipline is also important, but it must be performed correctly. Dogs do not respond well to humans that they perceive to be out of control. Always be firm, but be a leader at the same time. Don’t yell or scream – and definitely do not hit – if a dog doesn’t seem to be listening. Use games to correct the behaviors instead.
It may take some time. A dog who doesn’t like to stay is going to come the moment you’re not watching. Turn this into an exercise. Once stay is learned, go hide somewhere with a treat. Then have the dog try to come find you. Don’t give the dog any help with this game. By learning how to work out a problem, a dog feels more confident and that makes them more willing to play with you.
Some dog toys are designed to bring out the predator instinct in the animal. Others are designed to help alleviate boredom or work on solving problems. Every dog toy has some level of potential, but the best dog toys will do so without the threat of harm.
Best Kong Dog Toys
Kong is a widely respect dog toy brand that creates durable toys for aggressive chewers, energetic wrestlers, and those who love a good game of fetch. Founded by Joe Markham, who owned a trained police dog with destructive chewing habits, the goal of these toys is to engage the dog to play alone or with you.
Kong toys are irregularly shaped to create an unpredictable bounce, which provides curiosity for the dog. They are also hollow in the middle, which is the perfect place to hide a favorite treat.
There are 3 basic chewing styles that are recognized by this dog toy maker and these styles are the foundation of each toy option. Look for the right type of chewing compatibility before finalizing any purchase.
- Gentle Chewing: This type of dog prefers chewing on fabric-based toys. They will usually suck on their toy or lick it. Dogs like this rarely damage or destroy their toys.
- Average Chewing: This type of dog enjoys almost any type of toy. They might destroy fabric-based toys, but tougher toys, like a rubber-based toy, can stand up to their playing.
- Power Chewing: These dogs are strong. They are determined. They need interactive toys made from hard rubber to stand up to how they play.
You can also take advantage of Kong’s dog toy recipes so your favorite fur friend can try something new.
Here are the best Kong dog toys that are available right now.
Most Durable Dog Toy – Kong Extreme
This dog toy is large enough for a big treat for almost any size dog. It works with their instinctual need to go hunt something down. You don’t have to worry about the dog’s safety because the rubber, though it feels hard, is actually soft to chew. It’s super strong and can stand up to dogs who like to chew on their toys like popsicles on their favorite bed or rug. This dog toy is one of the best value purchases available right now.
If your best furry friend loves a good squeaker toy, then this alligator (or your preferred animal option) is a great choice. It has minimal filling, so it won’t look like a pillow exploded when the quest to rip out the squeaker has been accomplished. There is an extra layer of material with each design as well, giving some added durability to the dog toy. It isn’t intended for chewing, but it is a good attention grabber. Designed in Colorado, then manufactured overseas, this plush toy is a great way to have fun.
Kong Rubber Flyer
If you’ve got a dog who loves to chase a Frisbee, then Kong has created a long-lasting alternative to think about. It is a soft rubber disc, which means you don’t have to worry about any plastic pieces breaking off and injuring your friend. The disc flies extremely well, though it does feel a little heavier than a standard Frisbee. It comes in a small or large size and is suitable for pups that weigh up to 85 pounds.
Best Indestructible Dog Toys
Some dogs treat their toys with great love and care. A favorite toy might be able to hang around for months – if not years.
Then there are the dogs that sit down, begin to chew on the toy, and don’t stop until a ridiculous mess surrounds them. From bits of rubber to shredded fibers from a conquered squeak toy, some owners may find low-quality dog toys lasting 10 minutes or less with an aggressive chewer.
That’s why having dog toys that are designed to be indestructible are a good investment. Although they tend to cost a little more than the average toy, you’ll get many more hours of playtime fun from them too.
Here are the best indestructible dog toys that are highly rated for today’s most aggressive chewers.
Tough Dog Toys for Aggressive Chewers – Monster K9 Dog Toys
What dog doesn’t like a good ball on a core level? The only problem is that most balls that are designed for dogs are either easy to chew through or become a filthy mess when treated with love. The alternative is this virtually indestructible, high-grade, puncture-resistant rubber ball. It’s the size of a baseball, which makes it easy to throw and fetch. It bounces nicely and creates lots of momentum for a good chase. It is also backed by a lifetime replacement guarantee.
For dogs that prefer bones over balls for chewing, this durable chew toy could be an excellent solution for an aggressive chewer. It is manufactured with a durable nylon, making it non-toxic and tough. It’s also infused with bacon flavoring and odor, making it an irresistible toy to have around. The bones come in three different sizes, but the largest bones are still rated for dogs under 65 pounds.
Best Dog Chew Toys – Nylabone
These bones are the current gold standard in the dog toy industry for aggressive chewers. This combo pack comes with one bone that smells like chicken and the other smelling like bacon. It’s also made with a durable nylon, but the design of the bone includes raised bristles so that tartar and plaque can be controlled. Not only will these bones help to fight boredom, but they’re also a good way to start a session of play when your dog friend doesn’t have much motivation.
One note to remember: many indestructible dog toys are made with high-grade nylon, which is a plastic material. Aggressive chewers can dig plastic bits out of these products and swallow them. Indestructible dog toys should only be used under direct supervision.
Best Interactive Dog Toys
One of the best innovations in the dog toy industry has been the development of interactive toys. Not only do these toys engage the natural curiosity of the dog, but they also work to develop their physical and mental skills. With the right interactive toy, your best friend could be entertained all day long.
These toys are one of the best at encouraging dogs to work on their problem-solving skills. Dogs often learn by imitation and repetition, which means an unpredictable toy helps to keep them mentally sharp.
An interactive toy is also a good option for dogs that struggle with their weight. These toys are designed to get the energy out of a high-energy dog, and we all know that a tired pup is one that is less likely to seek out trouble.
Interactive toys can be a foundational part of an active, healthy lifestyle. They challenge dogs to keep learning. That makes them a fulfilling investment for you and your friend.
Here are the best interactive dog toys that are available right now.
This interactive dog toy helps to keep their mouth’s cleaner and healthier. It is designed to hold dog food or treats, but must be moved in a certain way to have them come out of the ball. The design is similar to that of a soccer ball, so the pursuit factor that comes with a game of fetch can be had with this toy. In many ways, the unique design of this toy rewards a dog for being active, which encourages them to stay active. That’s why it is such an excellent investment option.
Remember how much fun you had playing “Whack-a-Mole” for the first time as a kid? You’ll see a similar expression on your dog’s face when this “hide a squirrel” game is first enjoyed. It comes in 4 different sizes, including ginormous, so all dogs can have a little fun. Stuff the squirrel somewhere it can hide and then let your dog find them, one by one. A large squeaker is included with every squirrel, which encourages even more fun. Some dogs even feel like fetching a squirrel is better than fetching a ball.
Best Dog Puzzle Toys – Trixie Pet Products
This flip board provides a way for dogs to work on their fine motor skills. There are flip lids, slide disks, and cones that must be lifted so that the treated underneath the puzzle can be accessed. As your dog gets used to the skills that are required, you can vary the treat locations to make the puzzle even more challenging. It is rated as a level 2 training device, but smart pups will be able to start here without difficulty. Consider this toy if you feel like your dog is too smart for their own good.
The Best Small Dog Toys
The best toys for small dogs are designed with their physical size and shape in mind. Although it can be somewhat funny to see a small pup running home with a great big stick, oversized toys could put the safety or health of the dog at risk.
And none of us want to see our friends be hurt, especially if all they really wanted to do was play.
Here are some of the best options to think about for your small pup who likes to play like a big dog.
This is a set of 10 dog toys that are specifically designed with small dogs in mind. You’ll find plenty of animal shapes in this set: elephants, bears, and giraffes for starters. There are some pull toys, a couple of bones, and an interactive toy as well. Squeaky toys and rope toys are part of the mix. Each toy is made from a non-toxic material and comes in a vibrant color. With all of these options and a competitive price, numerous hours of fun await.
Nerf Dog Toy
This small dog ball is constructed with a durable rubber exterior, helping it to stand up better to a rough play time. Inside the ball is a red LED light that flashes, which is visible from up to 300 feet away. The ball has a nice bounce to it and there are grip holes throughout it so fetching it isn’t overly difficult. Several color options are available. The inside ball is a little more durable than the outside ball, so keep that in mind if your small pup is an aggressive chewer.
Best Pet Supplies
This squeak toy might look like it would make a mess, but it is actually stuff-less. The size is perfect for small dogs, but the shape and coloration invites the dog to engage their natural instincts. This specific toy is designed to be like a wild duck, but other animal shapes are available. Foxes, rabbits, raccoons, and deer are just some of your available options. It also has dual squeakers: one in the tail and one in the head. Those squeakers will eventually get ripped out, but not before there has been lots of playful fun.
The Best Large Dog Toys
When you look at the dog toys that are available on the market, you’ll find plenty of choices for small, medium, and large dogs. Those tend to be the dog sizes that most people prefer, especially if they live in an urban area or own a small home.
The only problem is that the dog toys which are built for these pups do not have the strength or durability to stand up to the playing that an extra-large dog likes to do.
If you call a Newfoundland, a St. Bernard, a Great Dane, a Mastiff, or another large dog breed your best friend, then they deserve to have some play time too. That can be a problem if your dog likes to romp around and weighs as much, if not more, than you do.
There is a solution. Some forward-thinking dog toy manufacturers have created special products that are specifically designed with the largest breeds in mind. These are the toys you’ll want to consider owning today.
The best dog toys for the largest dogs tend to be made from natural materials. The strength of the bite and the size of the teeth can often rip apart nylon and rubber toys, which is why these premium elk antlers are a great alternative. Because it is a natural product, you don’t have to worry about your dog ingesting a foreign substance. They are thick and reasonably durable, without the same mess you can get from rawhide or pig ears.
Nibble Pet Products
This might look like a simple rubber ball, but it isn’t hollow in the middle like others are. It’s a 3-inch solid rubber ball that still bounces on hard surfaces. You can throw it outdoors for your big dog or let them drool all over it inside until it is time to play. The size is a good fit for picking up during a game of fetch, while the weight of the ball isn’t going to feel like you’re throwing your shoulder out after a couple of tosses. It’s perfect for those large pups that love to be active throughout the day.
If there is one game that most big dogs love to play, it’s a game of pull. Their size and strength is put on display and they love showing off what they can do. That means you’ll need a strong rope that can stand up to a lot of pulling forces when it is time to play. This 34-inch rope offers 3 knots and a diameter of 1.5 inches to give it a strong surface. The rope is 100% natural cotton, so it is easy to care for it. Grab one end, let your pup grab the other, and this toy will provide a wonderful bonding experience – assuming you don’t get pulled into the mud, that is.
Really Cheap Dog Toys
Cheap dog toys might not stand up to a lot of chewing or play, but they’re not really designed to do that anyway. The toys that are in this category are designed to be a fast diversion that prevents boredom for a day or two and nothing more.
With that being said, there are still some excellent value finds that can be found for less than $7. If shopping online for these toys, keep in mind that many e-commerce platforms require a minimum order size to include these items. You may also find that shipping charges are more than the cost of the toy itself.
Shop wisely. Look for quality. Be mindful of purchasing and shipping policies. That will allow you to unlock the fun that can be found in dog toys like these.
These loofa dog toys bring out the love of a squeaker in every dog. Although there is a bit of stuffing in these toys and the squeaker is pretty easy to remove, there is still quite a bit of fun that can be had with this toy. It comes in a 12-inch or an 18-inch size, depending on the size of your pup. Many will be easily destroyed within a day, but the look of, “Aren’t you proud of me?” will be worth every cent of your investment.
This small football combines two fun toy options into one affordable purchase. The football has a spiked texture to it, helping to massage the gums of the dog as they chew on the toy to help with gum health. There are also LED lights which flash inside this toy when it hits the ground. A loud squeaker is inside the football as well. It is made from food-grade TPR materials and is over 4 inches in diameter, making it a solid choice when looking for a cheap dog toy to use in the backyard.
This low stuffing squeak toy is shaped like a frog and is intended for smaller dogs only, but it can provide a lot of fun. Large dogs will tear the squeaker out of this toy right away. Smaller dogs may find this to be their new favorite toy to use. You’ll find it chewed often, carried all over the house, and tucked into secret corners where other treasures are safely kept. Grab one today and you’ll have a thankful pup for many tomorrows.
The best dog toys help to keep our fur friends to be active. They encourage us to play with them whenever we can. Toys can help to lessen anxiety, keep gums healthy, and that makes our dogs be happier every day.
An idle dog is one that will soon be looking for trouble. Be proactive and find a great toy that they will love and so will you. Then together, you can have a great time.