You can walk into nearly any pet store and get bombarded with a plethora of dog toys. While some are merely for money-making and marketing purposes (does your dog really need a stuffed Easter Bunny that he is going to destroy in 3.2 seconds flat or a squeaky ball with your favorite sports team on it?), the good toy-making companies understand the logical need for a dog to have opportunities for the right kind of enrichment, mental stimulation, and outlet for his energy. This means having a durable item that engages your dog’s mind, that he can chew without destruction or that encourages him to interact with other social beings in the proper way, and which he can enjoy time and time again.
You may find that you already have some toys for your dog and he doesn’t seem interested in them. This could be because they are the wrong kind to fill his particular needs, he doesn’t know how to engage with a particular toy, or he just doesn’t have a preference towards the ones that he has. Every dog is different and what some dogs love, others could care less for. Have you ever met a child that has 20 toys sitting in her toy chest yet she swears she has nothing to play with and wants what her friend has? I often advise my clients that while having a number of great toys to choose from can give you a better chance at success, the number of toys doesn’t mean as much as the quality of the toys and what the dog gets out of playing with them. So to save money, I recommend steering clear of the cute ones that are easily destroyed (and then you have to replace them) or that don’t really serve a purpose for your dog, and instead spend the money to get the good stuff that will more likely engage your dog in the appropriate ways.
This is a list of some of my favorite dog toys and chews, collected over the years through use with a variety of different dogs. These items tend to hold up well, even to strong chewers (though if your dog has a strong propensity for chewing, you will want to monitor him with some of the puzzle toys at first to ensure he doesn’t abuse what the toy should be used for). You should be able to find many of these items either in a local pet store (some of the smaller boutique stores tend to carry this caliber over some of the larger chain stores), as well as online on such sites as Amazon and Chewy.
Maria Huntoon, CBCC-KA