Dog owners love to think of their dogs as children. “That’s my baby,” they’ll say when referring to their dogs. They’ll refer to themselves as “Mommy” or “Daddy” when talking to their dogs as well. And, of course, they buy their dogs toys to play with. Choosing the right dog toys can be tricky. People like to get cute, squeaky toys for their dogs or give them stuffed animals to chew on and carry around (the stuffed toy becomes the dog’s “baby” quite often – “Get your baby, checkers! Checkers, where’s your baby?”) because they think it’s “adorable.” Dog toys don’t need to be “cute.” They need to be practical, fun for the dog, durable, and safe.
Avoid Non-Toy “Toys”
For as lovable, loyal, friendly, and playful as they are, dogs are not the brightest creatures. They are naturally attracted to things that can cause them the most harm. It’s important to start early with your dog, providing save toys to chew and play with while teaching the animal to avoid household items it may wish to use as toys. Dogs love to chew on pantyhose, for example, but these could easily be partially ingested, choking the dog. Some dogs will chew on power cords, risking a harmful (or fatal) electric shock. Teach your dog early on what things are for chewing and playing and what things are off limits.
The Best, Safest Dog Toys
The size of a toy is an important consideration. Kongs, balls, and other typical toys must be small enough that the dog can chew them and carry them, but not so small that they can become lodged in the dog’s mouth or throat.
Durability is a factor, especially for a dog that loves to chew. A toy that will break apart easily can become a hazard as the small, sharp parts can be swallowed, caught in the throat, or cut the mouth and gums. Again, a hard rubber Kong (easily one of the best dog toys ever conceived) is an excellent choice.
Softer toys, like the popular “squeak” toys made of thin plastic and full of air are good for dogs that are a bit gentler. They’re unlikely to chew through such items and are usually attracted by the squeaking sound.
Tennis balls are great for some dogs, but poor choices for others. This is a question of size ratios. If the dog is too small to fit a tennis ball all the way in its mouth, then it can be an excellent toy that the dog will love but costs very little. If the ball can fit all the way in the dog’s maw, however, it becomes a choking hazard.