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As a dog owner, it is important to understand not only the physical benefits of exercise for your pet but also the intellectual benefits of your interaction with them. Toys are a great way to provide this mental stimulation while also spending time with your dog and strengthening the bond you have with them.
There are thousands of dog toys on the market to choose from, and here are 10 of our favorites.
Note: Please inspect your dog’s toys regularly to make sure they are in good condition and are safe for play. Your dog should not ingest stuffing, plastic or other harmful materials. Read the toy’s packaging, so you know precisely what to look for.
This Benebone chew toy has real bacon flavor so dogs love the taste. The curve of the wishbone makes it easy for dogs to grab and bite. This product is made in the USA and meant for dogs under 70 pounds.
This is made in a facility where it may be in contact with nuts. So if someone in your household has a nut allergy, do not purchase this product.
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These unique squeaky plush toys are a great gift idea for that friend who has a favorite beverage. From vodka and beer to La Croix, dogs can join their owner for a “dogmestic” or “impawted” beverage.
- Lick Croix:
- Red Bulldog:
- View all options here
The Chuckit! Ultra Ball encourages exercise and playtime. These balls add an additional element of fun with high-bounce and buoyant material.
Made from rubber material, these balls are easy to clean and find in the snow. They are available in 5 sizes and are compatible with Chuckit! Launchers.
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The KONG Rubber Dog Chew Toy has consistently been a best-seller since its introduction. This toy is most commonly referred to as “the KONG” and provides an excellent jaw workout for chewers. You can toss the KONG, and it will bounce all over, making it great for fetch.
Another way to use it is to fill it with peanut butter and freeze it. Your dog can enjoy chewing and licking it for hours. Read our reviews of other Kong dog toys.
I have one of these for my dog, and I fill it with small training treats. She likes to push the KONG around with her nose until all the treats are dispensed.
The KONG Rubber Flyer Frisbee Dog Toy is made from all-natural rubber and is durable and flexible. Unlike plastic flyers that can crack and splinter and hurt your dog’s mouth, this soft rubber toy is gentle on your dog’s mouth.
If your dog loves rope toys, this is a great pick that’s also inexpensive. Your dog can play tug-of-war, fetch or just chew on it. It’s available in various sizes too so your dog can have the right size toy. The fibers in the rope also help floss your dog’s teeth.
This is my dog’s favorite toy. She loves playing tug-of-war and fetch with it. It was the first toy we purchased for her, and it lasted more than 2 years. We recently repurchased it because she loves it that much.
If you want something that can distract your dog for a while, the Boredom Buster can do the trick. The slow feeder dog lick mat is perfect for spreading dog food, yogurt or peanut butter onto it. It helps reduce boredom, anxiety and destructive behavior.
Many members on the Canine Journal team have these for our dogs. It helps keep our dogs busy and can distract the pups during bath time too. It can also be put in your dog’s crate when you leave your home to help with separation anxiety.
The Outward Hound Hide-A-Squirrel Dog Toy is every dog’s dream come true. This toy includes three squeaky squirrels and a plush tree trunk. You can play hide-and-seek with your dog, and the two of you will have a blast. The toy comes in various sizes so you can choose the best size for your dog’s breed.
This interactive food dispensing toy will stimulate your dog to continue to play. The toy is available in 3 and 4-inch sizes, and the level of difficulty can be adjusted as your dog learns how to obtain treats faster.
Just insert your dog’s favorite dry treats (these Zuke’s Minis are a great option) or kibble, and your dog is bound to be intrigued by it. The hard plastic can get loud on tile and hardwood floors, but carpeted areas are a great place for dogs to play with this toy. See more toys that are great for mental stimulation.
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This toy keeps our 9-month-old puppy occupied for hours. And, when Barley stops playing with it, he falls asleep!! It is also impossible for him to chew it up, which means this toy will thankfully last much longer than most in our home. – Michelle S., Co-Founder of Canine Journal
Watch Michelle’s pup play with the IQ Treat Ball.
This toy can help with crate training and reduce whining and barking. These toys can help transition a newly adopted pet to their new home and reduce anxiety caused by fireworks and thunderstorms. It has a pulsing heartbeat, is available in multiple colors, and it’s machine washable.
Puppies are known for being destructive with their constant chewing. This 12-piece teething chew set is a must for anyone with a puppy. It includes squeaky, plush, rope, chew and frisbee toys.
Not only are these some of the best dog chew toys, but they also help clean your dog’s teeth and control plaque and tartar buildup. Be sure to keep a close eye on your puppy while they’re chewing to make sure the toy is still intact and safe.
Exercise is the primary reason why many dog owners invest in toys. Throwing a ball helps keep exercise rigorous and fun for both you and your dog. Exercise is a crucial part of having a healthy dog because, without adequate exercise, a dog can become obese and fall prey to many illnesses.
2. Intellectual Stimulation
Despite being “domesticated,” dogs can easily become bored. There is a saying that a “tired dog is a good dog,” and this is particularly true for working breeds such as border collies.
Without adequate intellectual stimulation, dogs can become destructive, disobedient and downright impossible to handle. With a combination of exercise and mental stimulation, however, even the most high energy dog can relax.
A great way to bond with your dog is to engage in playtime with their favorite toys. Toys also promote bonding in multiple-dog households by helping dogs bond with each other as well as understand their place in yoru home’s hierarchy.
4. Dental Health
A fun way to improve dental health and reduce the need for surgical cleanings is to invest in toys that are designed to clean teeth as your dog plays. These toys encourage chewing, which stimulates saliva and helps to diminish plaque and reduce its recurrence.
While your dog would likely choose every one of these toys as their favorite, choosing the right one is up to you. Only you know your dog’s likes and dislikes as well as their destructive tendencies.
For example, if you have a dog who loves to play ball, then a Nylabone isn’t going to do the trick. If, however, you have a dog that adores plush toys but can get a little carried away, then the Outward Hound Hide-A-Squirrel Dog Toy might be the right choice for you.
If you keep your dog’s preferences in mind, you won’t go wrong with any of these dog toy options. If you’re looking for another idea to gift your dog (or pet parent), check out our dog gift guide. You can also consider a dog subscription box to receive toys in the mail regularly so you never run out again.
What’s your dog’s favorite toy and why?
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