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All About
Dog Toys


Toys are important
for puppies and young dogs.

Dogs who have toys to play with are less bored. Often, dogs who have poor behavior have lots of energy and nothing to do. Toys can direct dogs to healthy behaviors, use up excess (too much) energy, and be a way for the two of you to play together.

Poodle  playing tug with Golden Retriever


Lab playing Frisbee at the beach.
Labrador Retriever playing with a disc.
Dogs love toys.

Most dogs love toys. Puppies, especially love to put toys and things in their mouths. Like people, dogs play less as they get older. But if encouraged, even older dogs will play. A disc like a Frisbee® is fun when you can play with your dog. Some dogs need to learn how to catch a disc, but it's not too hard.


What size is your dog?

It's important to choose the right size toy for your dog. Don't give your large dog a toy that is too small because he might swallow it. It should be large enough that it won't get stuck in his throat.

Balls ar good for playing fetch. You can play catch and keep-away. You can put a ball in the water and have your dog get it out. Balls are good for dogs because they give your dog lots of exercise. Chasing after a ball keeps your dog moving. Remember, tired dogs are good dogs.

Labrador with a red ball.
Labrador Retriever with ball.


green plastic dog toy
Plastic toys.

Use caution with plastic toys.

It's important to make sure the dog toys you buy are safe. Some toys could make your pet sick. Talk to your vet and your parents before buying plastic toys. Look for the words 'non-toxic' on the packaging of any toy you purchase, especially plastic ones. Buy toys that are 'made in the USA'.


Rope toys are fun for dogs.

They are twisted and tough, and the ends are knotted with fringe. Puppies like to chew on them and most dogs will chase them.

Some rope toys have other things attached to them like the one on your right: the rope, a stuffed star, and fringe. Watch that your dog isn't tearing the fringe off and eating it. If it does come off, just pick it up and throw it away.

red, white, blue dog toy
A combination rope toy.

dog toy ropes
Two short rope toys.

Rope toys come in all lengths, from very short to two or three feet long. They can be fun for tug-of-war, but if you have an aggressive dog, tug-of-war isn't the best game to play.

Some dogs get over-excited and a little rough when playing tug-of-war. Knowing your dog's personality will help you decide if this is a good game to play.


Stuffed animals come in many shapes.

Many dogs love stuffed animals. Dogs can toss them, sleep with them, carry them, and chew on them. Watch that your dog doesn't eat the toy, as the material isn't good for a dog's stomach. Take the toy away once it becomes torn, and replace it with something else.

dog toy, brown stuffed bunny
Stuffed Rabbit


Collie playing with a toy.
A stuffed toy with a sqeaker inside.

Some of the toys you'll buy will have squeakers inside. These are little plastic pieces that make a squeaky noise when squeezed. Most dogs love squeaky toys. Some dogs squeeze them so much that it seems like they are using the sound to talk.

If your dog likes to rip dog toys up, make sure you supervise him so that he doesn't have a chance to eat the squeaker.


Toys that Entertain
Use 'Interactive' toys like these below when your dog is bored or when you are not home.
These toys allow your dog to get exercise and play.
Fill them with treats and watch the fun begin!
Here are two different treat, or food toys. Both can be filled with small treats. Inside is a maze. The food drops in and does not easily come out. A dog must roll these toys around and hope that a treat comes out. When it does, your dog is rewarded. Once he gets his treat, he will want to keep rolling the toy around to get more tasty food. These toys keep your dog very busy, looking for more treats.
Put treats inside interactive toys.
Food Cube and Ball
round orange food ball
Treat Ball

Video camera - video available. Watch the video!

This is another treat ball. It works the same way as the other ones. But this ball is a softer plastic and the treats fall out easier than the blue toys above. This is good for dogs who need faster reward without much work. And because it is a softer material, dogs can pick it up in their mouths and toss it.

This toy is called a Kong. You can throw it and it will bounce funny. You can also fill it with food and have fun watching your dog try to get it out. Your dog will have fun, too. Many people like to put peanut butter in a Kong. This keeps a dog busy for a long time. But remember that some foods are fattening and if your dog uses this toy often, then you might have to cut back a little on his regular dog food. Stuff your Kong with treats.
The Kong is made of hard rubber. There are lots of other hard rubber toys. They come in all shapes, sizes, and colors and are very good choices for dog toys. Toys made of hard rubber are very safe and usually last a long time. Most dogs cannot tear them up. These are often great toys for large dogs.


Golden puppy chewing on a bone.Some bones are safe.

Large sterile bones from the pet or grocery store are good choices for your dog. Never give your dog small bones from turkey or chicken. They can be very dangerous if they get into your dog's throat or stomach.

Cow hooves are unsafe because they have sharp edges. Check with your vet regarding rawhide and pigs ears. Sometimes the pieces get soft and they can get stuck in a dog's throat. If your vet approves, always supervise your dog when he chews these and this shouldn't happen.


How many toys should you have
and where do you keep them?

Some people find that a toy box or other container is a good place to store their dog's toys. Put a couple of toys out for your dog. After a couple of days, or if you notice your dog getting bored, put those toys away and bring out some different ones. By rotating your dog toys, your dog shouldn't become bored with the same old toys.

Collie puppy playing with stuffed toy.
Collie Pup with Stuffed Animal


What about the cost?
Dog toys are in the toy isle at the pet store.

There's no doubt that dog toys can be expensive. If money is an issue, try looking at discount stores (their prices are lower). Pet stores have sales, too.

Toys are very important. Without something for your dogs to play with, they might choose the sofa, the kitchen table, or the screen door. The cost of those things are much higher than the cost of a few toys. Giving your dog things to do is well worth the money that they cost.


Got dog behavior questions?
Try our new Behavior FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)!

Just Click on the Mischievous Puppy!



Here are our favorite training books written for kids:





Behavior Problems
Helping Your Dog Behave
Who's the Boss?
No More Digging
Stop the Chewing
Jumping Up

Cody's Tour
Kelly's Tour
Trouper's Tour
Your New Dog
Well-Behaved Dog
Special Topics
A New Dog
Your Best Friend
Too Many Dogs
I'll Love You Forever
Training Basics
Following the Rules
What Dogs Cost
Obedience Lessons
Keeping Safe
What Dogs Need
Behavior Problems
Older Dogs
Puppy Basics
Learning Tricks
Losing Your Dog

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When I Grow Up
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How To Love Your Dog...A Kid's Guide to Dog Care
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