Your All-in-One Guide to the Best Types of Dog Toys
Have you ever tried to choose the best dog toy for your furry friend, only to get bogged down by a seemingly endless selection of different shapes, colors, sizes, and materials? Whether you browse the toy aisle at your local pet store or shop online, the choices can feel overwhelming—but that's not a bad thing! Having more options means there are more ways to satisfy your dog's specific needs.
Choosing the best types of dog toys for your pooch will not only keep them safely entertained but may even support their physical and mental health. From comforting a newly adopted dog to curbing destructive chewing habits, the wide variety of toys serves many different functions for unique situations. Learn about these dog toy categories to be prepared the next time you're shopping for something fun.
Dog Squeak Toys
Let's kick off this list with an all-time favorite: dog squeaky toys. These toys come in many shapes and materials, ranging from soft plush to strong rubber. Dogs have a great sense of hearing and usually go nuts for that tantalizing squeak, but have you ever wondered what makes the sound so appealing? Dogs enjoy hearing the high-pitched squeak because it simulates the sound of prey, according to the American Kennel Club. "Hunting" this kind of toy satisfies dogs and gives them the pleasure of catching prey.
Put simply, squeak toys are just plain fun for dogs and make a great choice for good old-fashioned playtime. In addition to getting your dog's blood pumping with excitement, they're also helpful as dog training reinforcements. You can use a squeak toy to capture your furry friend's attention or reward them for obeying a command.
Dog Chew Toys
Every dog needs something fun to chew on! Dog chew toys come in unique shapes, strengths, sizes, flavors, and textures for all kinds of furry friends. They satisfy dogs' natural urge to chew and provide solutions to common issues, such as:
- Destructive chewing – Chewing helps dogs learn about their world, and many dogs will chew pretty much anything they can get their paws on—including shoes, furniture, and beyond. Chew toys redirect these destructive behaviors, providing dogs a safe and appropriate item to chew.
- Puppy teething – Puppies start teething at four to five months of age, and chewing helps them relieve discomfort as they get their permanent teeth. Puppy chew toys are made of gentler materials to help ease dogs through their teething stages and promote healthy chewing habits from a young age.
- Stress – Many dogs resort to chewing to cope with separation anxiety and other stressful situations. Chew toys provide comfort and help keep dogs' minds at ease.
- Boredom – Dogs often chew to occupy themselves. Providing a flavorful toy for bored dogs can keep your pup happy and busy while preventing them from chewing forbidden objects.
Many chew toys also feature dental ridges and nubs, which help clean teeth as dogs chew. Perfect for entertaining your furry friend for extended periods, chew toys are the ultimate independent activity for dogs who love to chew.
Dog Plush Toys
Made of soft textiles and available in lots of adorable shapes, dog plush toys are a staple in many households. They come in two main varieties: stuffed and unstuffed. Stuffed plush toys are ideal for gentler furry friends because these dogs are less likely to tear into them and create a big fluffy mess. Unstuffed toys are a smarter choice for powerful dogs who are more inclined to play rough.
Just as children find comfort in their favorite stuffed animal, many dogs feel a sense of safety and security when they have a go-to stuffed plush toy. If your dog is adjusting to new surroundings, a plush toy may provide peace of mind as they transition to your home. Stuffed toys also offer solace to dogs while they sleep and go about their day.
Unstuffed plush toys give dogs a healthy way to exert energy. Because these toys do not contain any filling, enthusiastic dogs can play harder without spreading fluff all over the floor.
Dog Treat Toys
Treat toys combine two favorite doggy pastimes: playing and snacking! These types of dog toys feature an opening you can fill with kibble, treats, or homemade recipes to extend any play session. Dog treat toys come in varieties ranging from stuffable balls and pods to bone-shaped toys you can fill with a solid treat.
Most of these toys make the treat difficult to access, which provides mental stimulation and keeps dogs busy as they work to get the tasty snack inside. Even when dogs reach the treat, many toys bounce and roll to keep the excitement going. Treat toys are also perfect for sweltering summer days because you can fill and freeze some varieties to give your dog an even longer-lasting experience while keeping them cool.
Dog Puzzle Toys
Similar to treat toys, these mentally stimulating dog toys keep brains busy. Objects with hidden treat compartments, ball-and-suction-cup games, and interactive cubes are just a few of the many types of dog puzzle toys available. Some of the most challenging games have levers, knobs, and other features that will encourage your dog to figure out how the toy works or lead them to a delicious reward inside.
Puzzle toys enhance dogs' problem-solving skills, keeping pups focused as they discover the object's features. These types of dog toys can help stave off boredom by making dogs more interested in the game than inappropriate behaviors such as destructive chewing or digging. No matter your dog's age or breed, puzzle games will help them stay engaged!
Interactive Dog Play Toys
If your furry friend loves tugging and chasing, dog play toys will be right up their alley. These toys offer playtime thrills and promote healthy exercise both at the park and around the house. Most play toys can be sorted into two categories: fetch toys and tug toys.
Most dogs love a good game of fetch, and there are plenty of bouncy balls, mini footballs, flying disks, toy fetch sticks, and other playtime objects to satisfy your pup's zoomies. If your dog has trouble picking up traditional balls, don't worry. Our Power Play collection includes sports dog toys designed with indented shapes that are easy for your furry friend to grab and carry. When you want to take playtime up a notch (or three), look for fetch toys with tassels. Dogs love watching them shake in the air, giving your best friend extra incentive to chase!
Tug toys are another fun way to help release pent-up energy. When used correctly, tugging rings, ropes, and elastic tug toys help furry friends learn boundaries. For example, these types of dog toys can teach your dog to listen to you when they're excited, according to WebMD. Give your dog a command such as "Go!" when you're ready to start playing, and be prepared to cut tug-of-war with your dog short if they start displaying aggressive behavior.
No matter which interactive games your dog plays, provide plenty of water and offer frequent breaks—especially while playing outdoor dog games.
Finding the Best Dog Toys for Your Furry Friend
Every type of dog toy has a different purpose, so it's important to include a nice variety in your furry friend's toy chest. Whether your dog is playing with a mentally stimulating dog toy or an exciting squeak toy, providing your dog the right options will encourage healthy behavior, exercise, and of course, fun! Always supervise play sessions and take a toy away once it starts to show signs of wear, and you'll be on your way to helping your pooch make the most of playtime.