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cat-dog-play

PLAY.

The best toys for your puppy

Your puppy loves to play. You have probably noticed that he finds plenty of creative ways to play and keep himself busy at home. He may even want to play with your belongings, which is best not to encourage. Nor are you likely to be pleased if he mistakes your brand new trainers for a chew toy! It is much better to teach your puppy that he has his very own toys. And the best puppy toys will provide your energetic friend with hours of fun and stimulation. It is also worth varying his toys from time to time. Puppies enjoy a change and there is much more to puppy play than the tried and tested ball, even if balls can be great fun*. So if you are looking for toys to keep your puppy busy and happy, there is a wide choice of creative, stimulating toys to keep him entertained and on his toes.

*Nb: If you do give your puppy a ball, be sure that the ball cannot be easily choked, either by being too big to be swallowed (relation of dog and ball need to fit) or with a whole in the centre, that still allow breathing at worst case scenario.

Why playing is so important for my puppy?

Playing is an essential component of your puppy’s education, and one that will greatly contribute to both his short and long-term well-being and health. First, when your puppy plays, he releases energy positively. And we all know how much energy a growing puppy has! Puppy toys, which come in a huge variety of shapes, colours, materials and functions, are an excellent way to stimulate your dog’s senses, develop his cognitive abilities, and encourage him to explore and engage with his environment. There are many different types of toys to answer your puppy’s different needs and preferences. For example, interactive toys are specifically designed to stimulate your puppy’s mental capacities, while other toys may be more geared to getting him moving or providing comfort. And while some toys are specially designed to keep your puppy busy when he is on his own (because you really need to empty the dish washer, or do some laundry), others offer great opportunities for you and him to play together. Sharing the fun of a toy with your puppy is an excellent way to strengthen your bond. Playtime also teaches your puppy how to interact with you, other dogs and other people, appropriately. It teaches him behaviour that is acceptable and behaviour that is not such as nipping or biting during play. Depending on your dog’s character, this is often corrected by ignoring your puppy immediately if he engages in undesirable behaviour. Your reaction might be depending on the character of your dog. Some dogs stop misbehaviour when being simply ignored, for some others you might need to become a bit more strict and clear. The trick is to stop the game and turn your back on him every time until he learns right from wrong... If however ignoring your puppy does not seem to be working, you might need to clearly and strongly say “no” until he understands.

Tips on how to choose the right toy for my puppy

  • Choose toys that are solid and durable. Puppies have very sharp teeth and their toys can get lots of wear and tear. Avoid toys made from materials that can fall apart easily, or materials that are too hard as they can easily damage the enamel of a dog’s teeth. Again, be careful to choose toys that are specifically designed for puppy’s deciduous (milk or baby) teeth and chew toys like rope toys that are safe to be thoroughly chewed when puppies’ adult teeth start to replace their deciduous teeth at 16 weeks old. Always monitor your puppy’s toys to make sure that they are in good condition. Throw away and replace any damaged ones.
  • Choose the appropriate sized toys for your puppy. Avoid any toys with small parts that your puppy could swallow. Some toys are made for miniature breed puppies, such as the Yorkshire Terrier or the Dachshund, but these will be too small for bigger sized puppies, for instance a Golden Retriever or a Labrador. Nor do you want to choose very large toys made for the larger jaws of adult dogs. Your puppy will be unable to play with it and it will only frustrate him.
  • Choose age appropriate toys. For example, a flying fabric disc designed for adult dogs may be too large for a little puppy to catch. Certain interactive toys may be too challenging for your puppy’s developmental stage and only lead to frustration. If you have a doubt ask your vet for advice and always read the instructions on the packaging carefully.
Perfect Fit tips to choose the right toy for your puppy

READ MORE

Here are some of the best puppy toys:

Teething toys for puppies

At 3-4 months your puppy’s baby teeth will begin to fall out and his adult teeth will begin to come in. This can be quite uncomfortable for him. You can relieve some of your puppy’s discomfort by providing him with safe teething toys to chew on.

  • Choose toys puppies can safely chew such as rubber or rope toys.
  • Some teething toys can be filled with cold water, which may soothe your puppy’s sore gums.
  • Teething toys come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes suitable for puppies.

Best interactive puppy toys

Interactive toys are designed to stimulate your puppy’s mental capacity by encouraging him to complete a task. They also add to human-pet interaction and deepen your relationship with your puppy. Most interactive toys provide your puppy with a challenge. They are a great way to keep your puppy busy and prevent boredom. Some examples include:

  • Dog toy puzzles such as a puzzle tray with bricks that your puppy has to slide around to get a treat underneath or a grooved puppy activity ball. The grooves can be filled with treats which your puppy will try to get out while pushing the ball around.
  • Sensory stimulating toys. These are toys that stimulate your puppy’s sense of smell, visual capacities or hearing.

Outdoor toys for puppies

Whenever possible it’s great to get outdoors with your puppy and let him run around. Allowing your puppy to socialize and interact with other dogs is best after the 12th week, when the second round of vaccinations has been given. Of course make sure that he is authorized to be off the lead in the outdoor play area you have chosen and that it is safe for him. A few fun outdoor toys include:

  • A puppy flying disc made of flexible rubber or fabric that is not too hard for your puppy’s growing teeth and jaws. You can use it to play a rousing game of fetch or he may like carrying it around.
  • Treat-filled toys that you can show your puppy and then hide in the garden, for a fun game of hide and seek. This is an excellent way for him to get some exercise and to stimulate his sense of smell.(Keep in mind that you must take treats into account in terms of his daily nutritional intake. Treats should always be used sparingly. You can also use part of his daily dry food allocation instead of treats)
  • Rubber balls which he may enjoy rolling round or catching.
  • Rubber toys designed to hold and gradually release water for cooling fun in summer.
  • A small doggie pool if your puppy seems to like getting wet and splashing round (but only with you around to monitor him),
  • A dog water sprinkler that you may enjoy running through together.

Snuggle or comfort toys for puppies

Puppies may feel anxious at times especially at night. Your puppy may find it soothing to snuggle up with a soft toy that might even become his security toy.

Just keep in mind that soft toys should be very good quality and regularly make sure that your puppy is not pulling the filling out of his snuggle toy. Monitor his behaviour; as your puppy grows up, he will be more likely to destroy soft materials and this can be dangerous. As you can see there are all kinds of toys to keep your puppy busy and having fun. You may want to leave some out for your puppy when he is at home alone to prevent boredom and enrich his environment. Other toys could be used for training purposes such as teaching your puppy not to chew on anything but his own chew toys. Toys can be a reward for listening to you, or they can be reserved for special moments together to strengthen your bond. Remember that your puppy is entitled to have his own personal tastes so he may not always like the toy you have selected for him. If this is the case, don’t push the toy too much and instead try another one. Eventually by watching how your puppy plays you will figure out what he likes best.

Remember that puppies also need a lot of sleep for their well-being and physical and mental development. It is better not to over-stimulate or overtire your puppy by expecting him to play all day long. Your puppy is likely to want to nap after playing. This gives him time to incorporate the many things he’s learned from playing and replenish his energy. It is also probably better to have several play breaks during the day rather than trying to schedule one long play period. This will keep playtime enjoyable and stimulating for your puppy. And now that he has lots of cool toys to play with, he is sure to keep coming back for more fun!