It’s no secret that puppies love to play. Just bear in mind that those little teeth are pretty destructive, so you’ll need to take care when selecting the best puppy toys for your new pet. Here's what to look for.
Toys play an essential role in your puppy’s development. Some toys offer comfort, whereas others can bust boredom or help burn excess energy. The best puppy toys might even keep your bundle of joy from chewing your favourite pair of slippers, but we can make no promises!
How to choose the best puppy toys
While every puppy is different, most of them will enjoy a mixture of toys from the following categories:
- Active toys
- Distraction toys
- Comfort toys
- Teething toys
- Let’s look at these categories in a bit more detail.
An active toy will encourage movement in your puppy, helping them burn off excess energy. In turn, this can reduce anxiety levels and prevent destructive behaviours in the home.
A tennis ball launcher can be a fun and interactive way to build your bond and get your puppy to blow off some steam. There are also automatic tennis ball launchers that your dog can learn to use alone. Limit the amount of time you use either of these toys with your puppy, to protect their developing joints.
Rope toys designed for a tug-of-war can be another fun way to play with your pup. But if your puppy starts showing any aggression, this may not be the best game for them.
Mental stimulation is just as important as physical exercise. Distraction toys will keep your puppy’s mind active, which can prevent boredom and anxiety.
Examples of the best puppy toys for mental stimulation include a treat dispenser like a KONG or an interactive puzzle. Some puppies will benefit from distraction toys, but others may feel frustrated and anxious when they can’t get to the goodies. You may need to help your puppy figure out how their new toy works.
Comfort toys can help your puppy feel safe and calm, especially when you are away from the house. An example of a comfort toy would be a stuffed animal or a soft blanket that your dog keeps close by.
It’s important to choose a pet-safe stuffed toy, which will be much more durable than a children’s toy. Your puppy could rip a children’s toy and swallow the stuffing if they get too enthusiastic.
Be careful with comfort toys, though. If you only give your puppy the toy before you leave the house, they may start associating their stuffed animal with anxiety caused by being alone. Proper crate training can help some puppies feel less stressed and keep them safe when you can’t supervise them.
It’s totally normal for puppies to chew as they go through the teething process. A teething toy will allow your pup to express that natural behaviour without destroying your furniture.
The best puppy toys for teething don’t have any strings, ribbons, or metal parts that your puppy could swallow. Rubber bones are a great option, but something as simple as a frozen carrot can also be really helpful for sore gums.
The following toys are not always safe for your puppy:
- Rawhide knots. These can cause intestinal blockages
- Cooked bones. These can splinter and pierce the gums, throat or gut lining
- Children’s soft toys. Not designed to stand up to a puppy’s teeth and the stuffing may become exposed
- Cheap squeaky toys. Puppies can quickly destroy these toys and swallow the metal squeaker or pieces of rubber
- Any toy with loose parts. Including metal parts, batteries, strings, or other parts that could be ripped off and swallowed
If you have any doubts or questions about a toy you’d like to give to your puppy, it’s a good idea to speak to your vet.
Stay safe and have fun with your puppy
So long as you choose carefully, toys are a fun and safe addition to your puppy’s life. Just make sure you examine toys regularly and remove them if they are damaged. No one wants their puppy to swallow a lump of an over-loved tennis ball! Puppy insurance can provide with peace of mind that you can get your pet the best care in case playtime does lead to any accidents.
Puppies should only play with squeaky toys under supervision, and it’s always best to choose toys designed for sharp puppy teeth.
Every puppy will have different preferences when it comes to fun and games. No matter which toys you choose, we hope you have a lot of fun together!
Want to know more about how to take the best care of your puppy right from day one? Our pet advice pages do just that.