Play is really important for dogs. It stops them from getting bored and exercises their mind. Playing games and having fun with your dog will also help strengthen the bond between you.
Here are some top tips from our vets about choosing the right toy for your dog:
- This might sound obvious, but make sure the toy is designed for pets. Toys designed for children are less likely to stand up to the rough and tumble of pet playtime.
- Dog toys should be non-toxic and not have any parts that can be easily bitten off, chewed or swallowed.
- Throw away any damaged toys so your dog can’t break off bits and swallow them.
- Check that the toy is the right size for your dog and can’t be swallowed whole. Our vets regularly see dogs who have swallowed things they shouldn’t have. These items can become lodged in their stomachs and they need a major operation to get it out before it becomes life-threatening. As a rule of thumb, if your dog can easily pick up a toy and carry it around in their mouth, there’s a danger they could accidentally swallow it.
- Throwing toys for dogs to fetch can keep them fit – and they love it! However, sticks can cause horrible injuries to dogs. They can get lodged in the ground after being thrown and impale your dog or cause cuts in the mouth and throat. There are loads of toys, like Frisbees, that make much better replacements.
- The safest toy for your dog is one that can carry without having to hold the whole thing in their mouth. Rubber rings and big squashy balls are ideal but check they are puncture-proof from doggy teeth.
- Keep a close eye on your dog when they’re playing with toys. Only leave them alone with toys you’re sure can’t be destroyed or swallowed.
- Choose new toys that both you and your dog will enjoy playing with.
- Variety is the spice of life – our dogs may get bored looking at the same toys week-in week-out, so change them around to keep things interesting.
Playing with your dog
Play is a great way for your dog to learn about how to interact with people and other dogs. It can be a brilliant way to bond with your dog too. Play alleviates boredom, can increase activity levels and gives dogs a way to express normal behaviours such as chasing, pouncing and searching.
Here are some great games and toys for your dog:
- Tugging: rope toys and rubber rings are great for tugging games.
- Retrieving: Balls of a safe size that they can’t choke on, or safe retrieve toys.
- Chasing: toys, safe balls.
- Pouncing: squeaky toys, safe balls.
- Searching: food, squeaky toys.
Make sure toys are designed for dogs and are not left with dogs unsupervised in case they chew them.
Other interactive toys include treat dispensers that the dog has to ‘work’ to release the treats - a great puzzle for dogs who like working for food!