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.