How to build the perfect toy collection for your dog

Posted on by Andrea Castanaga

In the past, most dogs lived outside and roamed freely. They got plenty of stimulation and entertainment from smells, sounds, sticks and their natural environment. Times have changed, and modern pets spend more time inside the home than ever before. With all those hours spent inside, it's important to provide your furry friend with a solid collection of dog toys to keep them occupied.

Why Your Dog Needs a Good Toy Collection?

When dogs are bored or anxious, they will look to their environment for ways to keep busy. A lot of the time, this can mean chewing up your favourite pair of shoes, or worse -- the sofa. Puppies between 6-12 months can be especially problematic as they go through their adolescent teething stage. 

The best way to keep a bored dog from destroying your home is to provide them with a good selection of safe alternatives to chew, drag around, and tear apart. The best way to train a puppy or adult dog out of destructive chewing is to stop them every time they grab something that doesn't belong to them -- whether that be your shoes, your pants, or a newspaper. Replace the item with a dog-appropriate toy. Doing so will reinforce what she is allowed and not allowed to play with. Having plenty of toys within reach and on-hand will make this process much easier and also variety will increase your dog’s interest. 

Provide Toys with Different Textures:
Like people, dogs need a variety of novel experiences to stay engaged and satisfied in their daily life. Make sure your dog has toys of different textures and stiffnesses to keep her from growing bored. Squeaky toys, rope toys, rubber toys, and bone-style toys all deserve a place in your dog's toy collection, as do plush toys (unless you have a plush toy killer on your hands!). Dogs can easily grow bored with one toy, so having alternative toys handy will keep her occupied and less likely to chew up your shoes. 

Toys for Chewing, Tug, and Fetch:
Make sure your toy collection accommodates several different games and activities. Rope toys great for tug. Dog-friendly tennis balls fit comfortably in the jaw and are the perfect toy for fetch. Squeaky toys tap into your dog's inner predator by imitating the noises of prey animals (like rabbits) when squeezed. It's a good idea to have toys for more active, exercise-oriented games like tug and fetch since these will help keep your dog fit and healthy. It's also important to have toys, like rubber bones, rawhide, and stuffed animals, for your dog to snuggle up with and chew on. 

Puzzle Toys and Slow Feeders for mental stimulation:
Dogs are naturally curious and playful.  And like us, mastering a new skill can drain their mental and physical batteries, which is a win for all involved.  There are so many amazing puzzle toys available - from plush ‘burrow’ style toys where you can hide squeaky characters to more complex treat-dispensing toys and even slow feeders.  Stuffing these toys or bowls with broken up dog treats or kibble satisfies your dog’s scavenger and predatory instincts while also stretching out meal times.

If your dog spends a lot of time inside the house, a good toy collection will help keep her happy - and out of trouble. Make sure to provide your dog with plenty of different styles and textures of toys. This will help your dog stay content, engaged, and less likely to chew your furniture.  However, please don’t leave your dog unsupervised with toys, especially those that are showing signs of wear or fraying (especially rope toys).