Dogs love to play, both with their owners and by themselves. Playtime is an important opportunity to exercise, enjoy mental stimulation and bond with you! So making sure you have the right kind of dog toys is essential for their enjoyment and safety.
Ensure any toy you give to your dog is an appropriate size; toys that are too small could be swallowed, posing both a choking hazard and a danger to their stomach and bowel. Similarly be careful with string, ribbons or elastic bands, these could be interesting to a curious dog but will never make good toys.
Any sort of toy with bits that can be chewed off (like plastic eyes on a stuffed animal) should be avoided. The golden rule with ANY toy is that once it begins to fall apart or disintegrate it needs to be replaced.
A tennis ball is the classic choice for a dog toy. It bounces, provides an interesting texture to chew on and it can be easily thrown. Frisbees are also fantastic if your dog likes to play fetch. When buying a Frisbee look for the soft rubber or cloth variety. They may not fly as far but are gentler on a dog's mouth and teeth.
What can make an even more interesting throwing toy is something that will bounce irregularly. Because your dog can't predict where it is going to go next they are particularly entertaining. Solid rubber balls, or balls with a thick rope tails will bounce and roll irregularly.
Thick rubber toys are a good choice in general because they can be thrown, chewed or rolled around. A great way to keep your dog occupied for a while is to put broken dog treats inside a hollow toy. He'll have to nudge, roll and chew at the toy before he gets the entire treat out. This can be an extremely engaging activity for your dog and provide great entertainment for you!
Toys with squeakers can be a lot of fun for dogs. Most are content to just chew on the toy and make it squeak but some will feel they have to dig the noise-maker out, so make sure the squeaker is well secured inside. As always, if the toy is starting to come apart it needs to be replaced.
Some dogs like a soft stuffed toy. They'll baby it, carry it around, pounce on it, sit on it and suck on it. Something that is machine washable is ideal. The best "stuffed animals" will be the kind you can get from your pet store or vet practice.
You'll get the most life out of toys by not bringing them all out at once. Put out only a small selection and switch them every couple of weeks. This way the toys remain a novelty to your dog. Hiding toys for your dog to find is another great way to surprise him and keep him interested in them.