The Ultimate Dog Toy Guide

There are a plethora of dog toys currently on the market. Here is a list of 38 creative toys that you can use to keep your dog mentally and physically stimulated. The more interesting toys you provide your dog, the less appealing your valuable house hold objects will be. I also added in some tips on how to use each toy.

Dog Toys for Heavy Chewers with Strong Jaws

  1. Buffalo Horns- This is a great toy for hard chewers as it is very durable and will last a long time.
  2. Jolly Balls- Your dog will probably chew off the handle in a few days, but these balls last a long time and can make great toys for dogs that like the challenge of carrying around large objects. Herding breeds often like pushing these balls around with their muzzle.
  3. Rope Toys- Rope toys are great for tug of war and teething puppies. They are appropriate for some puppies, but not if your puppy has the tendency to ingest the rope fibers. You can soak the rope toy in water or chicken broth and then freeze it to ease teething gums and make it extra appealing. Tip: You can buy 50 foot of rope at Lowes for the price of one rope toy from the pet store.
  4. Raw Beef Marrow Bones- Most puppies and dogs love these bones. You can usually find them in the meat section or the frozen food section at the grocery store. I freeze them and give them to the dogs frozen. They can be a little messy and are best given in the crate or outside.  They may cause an upset stomach with some dogs so use at your own discretion.
  5. Antlers- Antlers are currently very popular. They are great for hard chewers as they are not easily destroyed.  When the dog becomes bored with the antler in a few days, you can dip it in chicken or beef broth and then freeze it to make it attractive again.
  6. Stuffed Bones- You can buy these types of bones at your local pet store. They are pre-stuffed with various types of filling such as cheese or peanut butter. I like these bones because you can reuse them by stuffing them yourself after the dog has removed the original filling.
  7. Hooves– You can buy animal hooves at most any pet store. They are generally attractive to most dogs and last a relatively long time. I especially like using them for puppies before they develop their adult jaw strength.
  8. Bully Sticks- It is rare to see a dog that is not interested in a bully stick, but they are high in calories so you do not want to give too many in a week. They run on the expensive side, so I usually buy the 3 feet sections and then cut them down myself with a meat cleaver.
  9. Kong Toys- Stuff them with peanut butter, yogurt, or your dog's kibble. You can add a little water and freeze them to make them last longer. Make sure your dog cannot get their lower jaw stuck inside the hole of the toy as this can be dangerous.
  10. Himalayan Dog Chews- These chews toys are fairly new on the market and are appropriate with puppies and adult dogs.

SafetyTip on Rawhides: Rawhides can be dangerous for hard chewing dogs. They may break off pieces of the rawhides which can be come lodged in the stomach or esophagus. The only time I recommend using rawhides is with a young puppy. You can give an extra large rawhide to your puppy and let them chew on it as they usually do not have the bite force to consume it. If your puppy is able to ingest any part of the rawhide, you should stop giving them.

Dog Toys for High Energy Dogs that Like to Chase Objects

  1. Flirt Pole- Great toy for dogs that enjoy chasing moving objects. You can make your own by tying rag to a rope then to a broom handle. 
  2. Frisbees- Check out the numerous soft Frisbees on the market that are easier on your dog’s mouth than a traditional Frisbee.
  3. Tie a rope to a plush toy- Basically a homemade flirt pole. Trainers have been tying objects on strings for decades so that the handler has the ability to animate the object which creates excitement.
  4. Food Puzzles- Fill food puzzles up with kibble or small treats. The puzzle will keep your dog busy and add mental stimulation to the dog’s daily activities. You can buy food puzzles online or at your local pet store.
  5. Chuck it balls- These balls are made by the Chuck it company. They are more difficult to tear apart than a regular tennis ball. Many dogs really enjoy chewing on these types of balls for some uknown reason. I have witnessed many dogs that will not even touch a tennis ball become really excited over chasing and mouthing the chuck-it ball. It must have something to do with the feeling of the material or the way the ball will squish and then pop out again when the dog puts pressure on it.
  6. Tennis Racquet and tennis ball- With the aid of a tennis racquet, you can increase the distance on every retrieve.
  7. Pet Safe’s Busy Buddy Kibble Dispenser- Great toy for highly food motivated dogs that tend to eat their meals as fast as possible. This toy will slow down the amount of food they can consume by only dispensing small amounts of kibble at a time.
  8. Jute Tug Toys- These toys are great for tug of war and stand up to heavy use with dogs that like to bite hard. These are the toys that protection dog trainers use to set the foundation for bite work.
  9. Bumber Toys- Mostly used for training dogs to retrieve in water. These toys are durable and they float which makes them great water toys.
  10. ifetch- This toy is new on the market and I have no personal experience with this toy, but it sounds interesting enough to list. It works by automatically throwing a ball for you dog when they drop it in the machinge. You can find it on Amazon.
  11. Rubber sticks- You can find rubber sticks on Amazon or at your local pet store. They are much safer for your dog than using sticks that you find on the ground.

SafetyTip on Throwing Sticks for Your Dog- Sticks can cause serious injuries and even death to dogs. If a dog runs up on the stick while it is still bouncing on the ground, it can stab the dog in the throat. It only takes one bad bounce that can lead to an emergency vet visit or worse.  The only time I will even consider throwing a stick for a dog is when playing fetch in water.

Homemade & Non-Traditional Dog Toys

  1. Foot Balls- Foot balls are more durable than a lot of dog toys which make them great for dogs that like a challenge and enjoy picking up large objects.
  2. Soft Balls- If you have a large or giant breed dog, try letting your dog play with Softballs which are bigger and more durable than tennis balls. They are safer than tennis balls for the larger breeds that may accidently swallow a smaller ball.
  3. Boxes- yep, boxes. If you have a dog that enjoys shredding objects, give them a cardboard box and let them have fun tearing it up rather than the $10 dog toy you just bought.
  4. Paper Towel Cardboard Roller- Stuff the empty roller with kibble and twist the ends to close it up.
  5. Empty Water Bottle- Place kibble inside and leave the top off.  Let your dog figure out how to play with the bottle in order to get the kibble out.
  6. Frozen Bowl of Kibble- Place Kibble inside bowl, fill with water, put in freezer. Run hot water around the edges for a quick thaw and then give it to your dog outside on a hot day.
  7. Plastic Kiddie Pool- Fill it with water and let your dog splash around in it to cool off.
  8. Plastic Kiddie Pool- Fill it with Sand and then bury dog biscuits under the surface. Your dog will love finding the prizes.
  9. Radiator Hose- Buy at your local hardware store. Cut it in 12 inch segments and play toss with it or fill with kibble and let your dog figure out how to find the kibble.
  10. Bubbles- Blow bubbles and let them float while your dog chases them
  11. Stuffed Tennis Ball- Cut a slit in the ball and drop kibble or treats inside and voila, a cheap treat dispensing toy
  12. Plastic Wiffle Ball Bats- Throw it as you would a stick. It provides the same enjoyment without the dangers sticks pose.
  13. Self-Tug Toy- Tie a toy to a rope and then the rope to a tree limb. The limb will “pull back” when the toy is pulled. You should supervise your dog with this toy to make sure they do not become tangled.
  14. Frozen Dish Towel- soak it in beef or chicken broth and then place it in the freezer. Reuse multiple times.
  15. Chicken Broth cubes- You can make these by filling up an ice tray with the broth.

Safety Tip regarding Laser Pointers- Never Play with a Laser Pointer with your dog. They may develop serious unhealthy compulsive behaviors around lights and shadows.

Worthy Mentions

  1. Plush toys- These toys are appropriate for some dogs, but if your dog instantly rips them apart, you will want to avoid this type of toy altogether as the stuffing can be dangerous if swallowed.
  2. Squeaker toys- Many dogs love squeaker toys, especially terriers. They can be used in training for a reward or you can let your dog play with the toy on their own, as long as you can tolerate the noise.

Every dog will differ on what type of toy they favor. Most dogs will be attracted to many of the toys on this list with some items being preferred over others.  Always observe your dog when introducing new toy.


Published on July 23, 2017

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