Just like every dog needs different types of training and they like different types of food, they also like different kinds of toys. One dog will gravitate towards tennis balls, another frisbees, and yet another will love and cherish stuffed animals. Finding the best toys can be a guessing game, but if you start early and with a plan, you’ll quickly find the toys that keep your dog occupied and happy.
Here are some tips and tricks to finding the best dog toys for your dog.
What Does Your Dog Like?
If your dog is older or you have had them for a while, this might be an easy one to answer. However, if you have a new dog or puppy, this is something you need to figure out. Luckily, you don’t have to do this blindly. There is a process you can use to figure out what your dog likes most.
Also, keep in mind that your dog probably wants a variety of toys depending on their mood. But there are some toys they will just ignore or leave laying around the house. Those are probably toys you should not waste your money on. So try these steps:
- When Your dog first arrives at your home, have a variety of toys waiting for him or her. Look up their breed, and see which toys are most popular with them, but don’t rely totally on that information. Don’t overspend. Start with one of each type of toy.
- Watch what they pick up first. Usually, a dog’s first choice is their favorite what they are most drawn to, but if the toy has a strong scent or bright colors, they may tire of it quickly.
- Watch what they hang on to the longest. This may take a couple of days of observation, but when your dog is playful, anxious, or even tired, what toys do they choose and hang on to?
- Play with them. This may sound like a silly thing to say, but dogs interact with toys differently when they are alone and when they are playing with humans. Things like ropes to play tug of war and balls to fetch may hold their attention much more when you are interacting with them.
- Pick the top three or four toys, remove the others, and see what the dog does. Reintroduce other toys from time to time to see if your pet’s interest has changed.
Just like people, your dog’s taste will mature as they age. What toys they didn’t really “get” as puppies they may love as adults. Certain breeds love to fetch, others have no interest in it. Continue to play with your dog and get to know them, and then you will understand what they like best.
How Long Does it Last?
Some dogs will cherish stuffed toys and rarely tear them apart. Other dogs will rip into them right away, and you can place bets on how quickly the stuffing will be all over your living room. If a toy, or a bone or something else you purchase for your dog only lasts for a couple of hours, you will want to reevaluate how many of those toys your dog gets. Otherwise, you will go broke.
The same can be said for tug ropes and other toys. However, there is also a difference in how toys are made. Some will last weeks even with a heavy chewer, and some will not last long at all. The key is to learn your dog, their bite strength, and the things they will chew and destroy and the ones they will just play with.
- Look for strong materials. Fire hose and tightly wound ropes last longer. So does heavy rubber.
- If it seems too cheap to be true, it probably is.
- Take toys away from dogs that are not meant to be chewed when you are not playing with them. For example, pick up tennis balls when you’re not playing fetch, and they won’t be in pieces all over your yard or living area.
- Offer a variety of toys for different purposes, but keep an eye on your pet. If they are eating something plastic or ingesting stuffing, take the toy away right away.
Remember, you want toys that will last a long time. But you also need to be reasonable. Your German Shepherd may destroy things way faster than your poodle mix, but it is better than him eating your furniture.
How Much Does it Cost?
Prices for dog toys can be outrageous. Boutique shops or websites can ask for a premium for the exact same toys that you can find at your local pet store for much less. However, if you are in a dollar store or other discount shop, be aware of the materials that make up the Toy. Cheap materials will not last as long, and may even be toxic for your pet.
Read labels. Play with the toy yourself, tugging on it and testing it as best you can. A typical dog toy of decent quality will cost around $10 and they go up from there. Anything much cheaper is probably not worth the cost or risk.
Do look at the name brand. Brands like Kong and others have been around for a long time and tested. It’s often worth it to pay extra for something you know will endure for a long time.
Which Toys are Worth It?
Here is some quick and easy math for you. Take how much the toy costs and divide it by the number of hours, days or weeks the toy lasts. That gives you your cost per a certain time period. For example:
- I buy my German Shepherd a stuffed toy and bring it home. It costs $12 and lasts for three hours.
- Twelve divided by three is about $4 an hour. Not so good.
- If I buy that same dog a rubber ball with a squeaker, and it costs $12 and lasts for six weeks, that is $2 per week. Not bad.
The point is that to determine your return on investment, you will need to divide what you spend by the time the toy lasts, and you will get a number.
But dog toys are not just about numbers. You also need to factor in how much your dog enjoys that toy or treat. For example, if your dog loves it when you bring them a special bone, it may be worth it to spend more even if it only lasts a day or two, just to give them a special treat.
Where Do You Buy Your Toys?
There are a lot of ways and places to buy toys. But how do you find the best and get the best value?
- Look in person first. While you can buy toys online, it is best if you can handle and see the toy first. You know your dog, and this will help you choose wisely.
- Try boutique pet stores that are local before big box stores. Try to support small businesses where you can, and you may find some unique toys there.
- Shop box stores for variety. They will have the biggest selection.
- Shop online for price and convenience. Once you know what your dog likes, you can more safely purchase it online. Remember, watch the name brand and make sure you are getting exactly what you’re looking for.
Every dog is unique and finding the best toys for your dog might take some time and effort. But once you do discover their favorites, the two of you can share all kinds of joy, and get the most out of your time playing together.