Today when you walk into your favorite pet shop there are many more toy options for dogs than there used to be. There are a few things to consider when buying toys for your dog. Do you need toys for a puppy, or adult dog? There are a few things to keep in mind when buying dog toys.
First of all you want to buy toys that are age appropriate. For example, if you have an older dog that loves to tug and is trained to “drop” their toys, by all means buy them a tug. However, this is not a good choice for a puppy starting out, because they may not want to let go of the tug when you want them to. The problem this presents is that if the puppy has the TV remote or your cell phone, you need to be able to recover them from the puppy without too much fuss.
Another thing to consider is buying toys that are size appropriate. If you have a 120 pound Bullmastiff you wouldn’t buy a toy that is more suited to a Pomeranian. You don’t want to get a puppy toy for a full grown dog, no matter how cute it is. The reason I say this is that a puppy’s teeth will not usually do the same damage to a toy as an adult dog’s teeth. An adult dog can make mincemeat of a puppy toy pretty quickly, because their teeth are fully developed while a puppy is still getting their teeth. On the other hand, getting a toy a puppy can grow into is not as farfetched as it sounds. Puppies can grow very quickly and that toy that you brought home last week may be too small next week.
You should also gauge the activity level for your dog when considering a toy. If you have a couch potato with a low activity level that loves to chew, you don’t necessarily want to get them a Frisbee that will take a lot of activity to chase around. While I agree exercise is great for dogs, you need to determine their activity level before getting them a toy that may be too far above their current activity level. Just as we need to work up to a certain activity level, so do our dogs. So if you want to get that Frisbee go ahead, but remember that you should start with 5 to 10 minutes of activity if your dog is not used to any at all.
Last but by no means least you should consider the chewing level of your dog when buying them a toy. I have had American Staffordshire Terriers since 1981 and thought I was well-versed in their tricks with their toys. However I learned something that I have been telling my customers for years, “Every dog is different”. While I knew this myself, I got a refresher lesson, courtesy of Skye.
I made the mistake of buying Skye a rope bone with two tennis balls on it. I was going to toss it and she would go catch it and bring it back to me, at least that is what I thought. Skye had another idea. The first time we got to go outside to play with it, I threw it, and Skye went and got it. So far so good, however Skye decided to test out the strength of the tennis balls. She put her foot down on one end of the tug to hold it still and grabbed one of the tennis balls in her mouth. The tennis ball “popped” like a balloon, and that was the end of one of the tennis balls on Skye’s new rope bone. The toy now resides in the toy box, and I’m not sure I even want to give it to her again. While Skye was pleased with herself, I was worried about how quickly the tennis ball came apart and how many pieces she made of it in less than a minute’s time. I would not want her to swallow one of those tennis ball pieces if I give her the toy again, so in the toy box it stays until I figure out who has a dog small enough to gift it to.
If you remember these easy tips by buying toys that are appropriate for the age, size and activity level of your dog, not to mention their chewing level and ability; you will save yourself time and money and have a few less headaches in the bargain.