How to Choose the Right Toys for Your Dog Header

How to Choose the Right Toys for Your Dog

How to Choose the Right Toys for Your Dog Header

How to Choose the Right Toys for Your Dog

With the holidays approaching it’s important to choose the right toys for your dog when picking out presents. This information applies year-round (since do we really need a specific reason to buy our dogs toys?) but if a family member or friend buys your dog a toy it’s good to know if that toy is right for your dog or if you should keep it out of their toy bin.

Watch the video below to learn more or continue reading.

Most importantly, dog toys should be safe, fun, and durable.

Toys to Avoid

Thankfully most toys that are made for dogs don’t include these elements but some slip through the cracks.

  • Sharp
  • Pointy
  • Is a string – rubber bands, ribbons, etc.
  • Kids toys that contain small parts
  • Pantyhose
  • Anything that could be easily swallowed and digested

If you find your dog playing with any of these things, take them away immediately. If you suspect your dog has ingested the toy call your veterinarian immediately. Toys that are sharp, string and string-like, and choking hazards can all be fatal even if not apparent right away. Intestinal blockages typically require surgery and sharp objects can tear the esophagus, stomach, or digestive track.

Now, onto picking the right toy for your dog!


Toys should be just big enough for your dog to carry, not small enough for them to swallow. A good rule of thumb is if it is smaller than their snout/muzzle – the protruding portion of an animal’s face, consisting of its nose, mouth, and jaw length[1] – they can potentially swallow it.

Dog in blue shirt running on sand

Dog In Blue Shirt Running On Sand by Scopio from


How rough is your dog with their toys? Are they gentle and carry them around like a baby doll or do they prefer to destroy them before they even hit the ground? If your dog is more gentle you may be able to get away with giving them soft toys with squeakers such as Fluff n Tuff that aren’t marketed as extremely durable. For dogs that like to be rough, toys like KONG or Tuffy Dog Toys may be a better option as they are made for rough play. By no means are those the only dog toy brands out there. Shop around to find ones that suit your dogs play-style and preferred material/texture.

Is it edible?

This might be a weird one but we feel it’s important to touch on it. Some pet owners consider various chews to be toys. While not technically a toy if you or someone else buys your dog a chew the same rule of size and play-style apply.

If your dog is given something like a bully stick, it is important to take it away from them once it becomes the same length as their snout/muzzle or smaller. If your dog is really rough and doesn’t like to take their time on chews, it’s important to take it away from them before they finish the whole thing and get a belly ache.

With the holiday season many pet stores still promote and sell rawhide. Rawhide can be dangerous. If you dog swallows a large enough piece it can cause an obstruction which may require surgery, just as if they ate some string. Rawhide should always be given with supervision, if at all. If you are considering purchasing rawhide for a friends pet or your own, consider a safer and more easily digestible alternative such a No-Hide.

The same rules apple. Smaller than the snout/muzzle – throw it out. Monitor consumption to avoid belly aches.


The material you choose will depend on your dogs play-style. You know your dog best.

For high energy dogs, toys that are made of hard rubber, KONG or RuffDawg, toys that are marketed for active/rough on toys dogs. Tug toys, such as the Super Tug are great when you are engaging in supervised play with your dog. Rope toys can easily be shredded and swallow bits of the rope, especially if left unsupervised. Finding tug toys made out of hard rubber is a bit of a challenge but there are toys out there. Tennis balls can be a great toy. If your dog likes to eat the outsides of them then this material may not be the ideal one for your dog.

For lower energy dogs, soft and plush toys may be ideal for them. There are countless brands of soft toys. Be sure to take a look at the toy aisle next time you’re at the pet store. If you are worried about stuffing there are brands out there that make stuffing free toys such as Outward Hound. Even if your dog is low energy they may still like to play with toys that are designed for high energy dogs.

Bernese dog with ring toy in mouth

Bernese Dog With Ring In Mouth by Avel Shah from

Mental Stimulation

For high energy dogs or dogs that may be left alone part of the day, mental stimulation may be an important factor for you. Tennis balls are fun, but they don’t provide much enrichment and stimulation. Those pet parents looking for mentally stimulating toys should check out our blog on interactive puzzle games for cats and dogs.

Rotate Dog Toys

Okay this is a bit of cheating but it works! Why bother buying more toys when you already have the right toys for your dog? If your dog is getting tired of the same toys consider swapping them out for some other ones you have. Often times, pet owners keep all of their pets toys out at once. You should only keep around 4-5 toys out at a time and rotate between sets frequently. This keeps the novelty of the toys and keeps your dog excited. An added bonus is toys won’t wear out as fast and you save money by not having to buy new toys constantly.

You picked out a toy. Now what?

Test it out! Whenever you are giving your dog a new toy make sure to supervise them. This supervision ensures you know how your dog interacts with that toy.


You have successfully picked out the right toys for your dog! It’s a bit of a challenge, we know, but the reward is worth it. Nothing beats watching a happy dog play.

Let us know what your dogs favorite toy is in the comments or @WetNosesPetSitting

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