All dogs love to play. Some rescue dogs or those that didn’t learn the basics when they were pups can struggle to get started, but given the right toy and the right approach, any dog can learn to have a whole lot of fun! Playing with you is always the preferred option, but dogs need to be kept busy and sometimes you just need a break, so interactive toys for solo play are also good.
I’m often asked in consults what sort of toys are best, so here’s my (current) top 10 toys - there should be something on here for everyone and every budget, so add a couple to your dogs wish list!
Gor Pets Mummy Octopus – this squishy, soft, crinkly, squeaky toy ticks all the boxes for play with puppies and dogs that don’t just destroy everything in sight. Wriggle it, squeak it, play tug, fetch and cuddle it. Great all rounder and a good one to have as your ‘special’ limited access, high-reward toy. Also available in Baby and Daddy sizes.
Tug e nuff sheepskin ball bungee tug – for adolescent dogs and above, a good game of tug is always fun. As long as the dog will release the toy to you (teach the drop or off cue by swapping the toy for food or another toy that’s equal desirable), playing tug is NOT going to make your dog aggressive or possessive! It actually helps strengthen muscles in the jaw and hind quarters and encourages drive and motivation in our more laid back canines...
Kong Wobbler. Kong products are strong, resilient and worth investing in. The wobbler is a treat dispensing toy that won’t fall over or roll away under the furniture. Easy to clean and not too noisy, its my dogs favourite thing to do when I’m busy elsewhere. You can put your dog’s regular meals in it too (dry food only!) to make dinner time more interesting.
Charity Shop teddies – if your dog systematically rips up everything you give him, then why spend money on expensive toys? Check out the local charity shops for good sized soft toys without glass or plastic eyes and noses etc. Also avoid anything with a bean-bag feel to it! Let your dog have a good game with you and the toy then let him shred it if he wants – then remove the stuffing and throw it away and the ‘skin’ will give your dog a few days of extra shredding & tugging fun
Chuckit balls. For the dog that loves to chase and fetch or catch a ball, these are unbeatable. Lightweight, washable, mostly chew proof and brightly coloured so you can spot them in the grass, these balls are great, especially when teemed with a good quality chucker.
Kong Wild Knots Bear. These guys are quite diddy so best for pups and smaller dogs. Withstand some destruction as they have very little filling except a sturdy rope core. Good for tugging, fetch, carrying around (retriever owners take note!) and also cuddling.
Really long snakes. These are a favourite in puppy class. Wriggle it, chase it, tug it, carry it, snuggle it! Not marketed as a dog toy, but every doggie home should have one!
Nina Ottesson Dog Tornado. Not a cheap option this, but great fun for dogs who love their treats and will work hard to find them. You can increase the difficulty levels as the dog gets the idea. Bit of a pain to wash and dry so not an every day toy, but good for rainy days and dogs on minimal exercise.
Kong Quest Wishbone. A new addition to the Kong range – and a different sort of food dispensing toy that involves a bit more dedication and licking – better for patient dogs with extra clever tongues!
A Flirt Pole: this is basically a toy on a string, attached to a stick! You can spend a lot of money on ones that look like this or you can find a length of cane or dowel, and tie a small wriggly soft toy to one end of a piece of string, and the other end to a stick! Then wiggle it, joggle it, dance it out of your puppy’s reach; get the kids to run down the garden with it. Great fun for the dog and not much effort involved on your behalf! Bear in mind the size and strength of your dog when making one of these!
Above all – have some fun! Release your inner child and get all giddy with your dog – he’ll love you for it and you will love it too J
"I like the fact you were given the tools to practice for a short time in class but then at home - we didn't then waste valuable class time watching other people (as I have seen in another class). Observing others is good but this class had just the right amount. Thank you."