Best Types of Puppy Toys: 5 Must-Have Varieties
Welcoming home a puppy is an adventure for both you and your new furry friend! While you are busy attending vet appointments together, working on puppy training, and introducing your dog to family and friends, it's easy to overlook one of the most fun aspects of being a pet parent: playtime!
Not only is cracking open the toy chest a highlight of your dog's day, but it's also important to their development. Interactive toys like fetch balls and tug-of-war ropes help strengthen your bond, while chew toys teach positive habits and promote dog dental care. And that's just for starters! We've outlined the best puppy toys to help your growing dog live a happy, healthy life.
Teething Chew Toys
When a new puppy arrives, it won't take long to see how much they love to chew. This isn't a quirky habit; it's how growing pups learn about their world and manage a variety of emotions! Stocking up on puppy chew toys will:
Ease teething discomfort – Puppy teething is a natural process that begins when a dog's baby teeth start falling out, which often causes irritation. Chewing helps pups relieve this discomfort, and providing them chew toys offers a healthy teething method. Freezable puppy toys offer even more soothing relief for gums.
Encourage healthy chewing habits – Dogs chew from puppyhood throughout their adult life, and it is a crucial way for them to explore their surroundings. Giving your pup chew toys from the start will teach them non-destructive chewing habits and prevent your shoes, furniture, or other off-limits objects from getting munched.
Reduce stress – Arriving in a new home is exciting for a puppy, but it can also be a bit overwhelming. Many furry friends chew to cope with stressful situations, so providing a chew toy will help keep them at ease.
Offer dental benefits – Many puppy chew toys include ridges and nubs that help clean teeth and freshen breath through chewing action. Textured chew toys are an excellent supplement to any puppy dental routine!
Provide entertainment – While chewing helps puppies navigate a variety of situations, sometimes they like to chew just for fun! Chewing fights boredom and keeps dogs occupied, and a long-lasting chew toy is sure to engage your puppy.
The best chew toys for puppies come in all kinds of delicious flavors, unique shapes, and enticing textures. Just be mindful of when your pup starts getting their adult teeth. Softer teething chew toys aren't designed to stand up to active chewing once those adult teeth come in. However, there are lots of different options to meet your dog's chewing needs as they grow up!
Knotted Rope Toys
Once your puppy has their adult teeth, introducing rope toys can be an appealing way to play. Not only are these toys among the most flexible tug toys, but they can also clean your puppy's teeth. Playing tug-of-war with your dog is a particularly intriguing rope toy game and has many perks, including building their confidence and satisfying their natural desire to catch prey.
There are a few important things to keep in mind before you and your puppy start using rope toys. Always pull lightly when tugging, as you don't want to injure your dog's mouth or induce rough play. It's also a good idea to establish some house rules, such as using a command word like "play" or "tug" to start the game and always ensuring you are the one who is initiating the game. That way, your puppy will be less likely to use just any object as a tug toy.
Rope toys can unravel, which could lead to problems if your pup swallows any strands. As with all toys, supervise your dog during playtime and place the toy out of reach once it starts to show signs of wear.
Engaging Play Toys
No list of the best puppy toys would be complete without bouncy, chasable favorites. Dog play toys range from classic fetch balls and durable tugging rings to far-soaring flying discs and sports toys to indulge your puppy's zoomies. Features like tassels and squeakers add to the fun, energizing your dog with thrilling sights and sounds.
Play toys are great for exercise and bonding time, as your new best friend will look forward to getting their blood pumping and spending quality time with you. Plus, many of these toys make a good choice for solo play when you can't join in.
Teaching your puppy how to swim? Introduce them to water games with floatable play toys! Letting your dog retrieve a toy from the other end of the pool will level-up their fetch game while improving their confidence in the water. Plus, playing in the water is a nice cool-down activity after a robust day of outdoor play.
No matter how you and your puppy enjoy these toys, changing up your play patterns can keep your dog on their paws. If you're tossing a fetch toy, for instance, try bouncing or rolling it the next time your pup returns it. Mixing up the action is a surefire way to keep your furry friend's interest piqued!
RELATED: Dog Swimming Safety: What to Know Before Diving In
Enriching Puzzle and Treat Toys
Your puppy's mental muscles need exercise! Treat toys feature wells, openings, or pockets that can be filled with dog chew treats, spreads, kibble, or other yummy snacks for a super long-lasting chewing challenge. Once the tasty treat entices your pup toward the toy, the chew toy will continue to occupy and entertain; some even roll or bounce for more excitement.
There's also a wide variety of puzzle toys featuring compartments or levers that hold hidden treats, and some are great for a solo game of tug-of-war. You might be surprised how creative your dog can be as they sniff, mouth, and paw their way around the toy.
Puzzle and treat toys are more than a fun time-passing activity for your pup. Interactive toys like these also encourage dogs to solve problems, which can strengthen their mental faculties and prevent dementia when they get older, according to Animal Wellness Magazine. These toys are truly a smart pick!
Comforting Plush Toys
Remember how much joy your favorite stuffed animal brought you? Just like kids, many puppies feel safe and secure when they have their own special plush toy to snuggle with. In addition to being absolutely adorable to watch, giving your dog a plush toy can comfort them as they adjust to their new surroundings. These toys are available in a variety of textures, colors, sizes, and shapes—bonus points if you find one that looks like your dog's breed!
For an extra level of comfort, look for plush toys with a heartbeat. These toys emit a rhythmic beat that mimics a mother dog's heart, providing a familiar and peaceful feeling. You can even get a heartbeat puppy bed to keep the calming sensation going all night long.
Not all puppies will view plush toys as fluffy buddies. Dogs who prefer to play rough may see stuffed toys as "prey" and tear them apart. If this sounds like your pup, you can opt for unstuffed plush toys to provide an outlet for channeling their energy—and you won't have to worry about them swallowing or scattering fluff.
Don't Forget Treats!
In addition to giving your new dog the best puppy toys, you should also reward them with wholesome and flavorful snacks. Look for puppy chew treats formulated with ingredients like DHA Omega-3, which aids in brain and eye development. Nutritious treats also make great rewards that will come in handy when teaching your puppy basic commands. Not to mention, these tasty morsels will let your pup know how much you care about them!
Let the Playing and Chewing Begin
Tempted to splurge on your pup's toy collection? Go for it! The bounciest play toys, trickiest puzzle toys, coziest plush toys, liveliest rope toys, and best chew toys for puppies all provide lots of benefits your dog needs to live a healthy life.
The fun doesn't stop when your puppy grows up! Check out the best types of dog toys for adult furry friends.