Expert-Recommended Toys Your Puppy Is Sure to Love
Many households consider their puppies to be members of the family, so you want to ensure your puppy is getting the best there is. While it's always exciting to see your pup play with a new toy, shopping for dog toys can be harder than it appears. With such a variety of options, such as squeaky toys, plush toys, rope toys, ball toys, tug toys, rubber toys, and plenty more, it can be a challenge even knowing where to start. To lend you a hand, we talked to the experts, including veterinarians and a dog trainer/behaviorist, who gave us their top recommendations.
Michelle Burch, DVM, from Safe Hounds Pet Insurance, recommends using the Snuffle Mat ($27) to help keep puppies engaged in their sense of smell and curiosity. Hide food in the mat to help your dog feel like they're foraging, which, she said, is an instinct. She also said having them hunt for food in the mat can slow down your puppy from eating too fast.
Starmark Treat Dispensing Tetraflex Dog Toy
To turn feeding into a game, try the Starmark Treat Dispensing Tetraflex ($15), said Michelle Lugones, DVM, from Best Friends Animal Society. You fill the ball with food or treats, and your puppy bats and rolls the ball around to dispense the food.
Duraforce Bone Squeaker
Terrence Ferguson, DVM, and Vernard Hodges, DVM, of Nat Geo WILD's Critter Fixers: Country Vets recommend the Duraforce Bone Squeaker ($10) because of the material. They said it's very easy to clean — you can even put it in the washing machine!
They also love Duraforce toys because they make superdurable toys for heavier chewers. Bonus: these toys float, so if you have a pup who loves the water, they can take it in the pool or tub with them.
PetSafe Busy Buddy Kibble Nibble Meal Dispensing Dog Toy
The PetSafe Busy Buddy Kibble Nibble Meal Dispensing Dog Toy ($14) is excellent for slow feeding, decreasing stress, and encouraging chewing on an appropriate object for your puppy, according to Dr. Burch. A dog's instinct, she said, is to hunt and search for food. This toy will encourage that instinct by allowing stimulation of sight, smell, hearing, touch, and taste while working for their food.
For a high-quality ball, try the Chuckit! Kick Fetch Ball ($18, originally $30), said Anthony Hall, DVM, the medical director for the Buckner Animal Clinic in Dallas. It's great for dogs who love to play fetch because it is more durable than your standard tennis ball and comes in several sizes to match the mouth of a variety of breeds. Dr. Hall said it's bouncier on grass than most other balls, which keeps your dog engaged to play more. "I personally own this, and my 83-pound American bulldog has not destroyed it yet!" he said.
Hear Doggy! Ultrasonic Silent Sqeaker Toy
You love to watch your dog really get at their favorite squeaker toy but hate the endless hours of the squeaking sound they make? Dr. Hall has a solution for you! He loves the Ultrasonic Silent Squeaker Toy ($12) from Hear Doggy!, a company that has fitted several animal-shaped toys with ultrasonic squeakers that humans can't hear but dogs can. "Keep your pup entertained and your eardrums (and sanity) intact," he said. "It's a win-win for everyone."
BlueIsland Dog Rope Toy
Russell Hartstein, Los Angeles dog trainer/behaviorist and founder of Fun Paw Care, LLC, recommends the BlueIsland Dog Rope Toy ($18, originally $21) because it is helpful for dog training and teaching behaviors such as fetch, drop it, leave it, and take it.
Hartstein prefers toys that dogs can chew on, "especially when a dog is teething, puppy biting, or if your dog tends to inhale their food."
Squishy Face Studio Flirt Pole V2 With Lure
Lure toys, like this Squishy Face Flirt Pole With Lure ($29), are suitable for inside play with your puppy, according to Dr. Burch. She recommends using lure toys to satisfy your puppy's natural prey drive instinct. "Your puppy will be springing, changing directions, and jumping while trying to catch its prey," she said.
Hartstein added that these toys are especially helpful for dog owners who have mobility challenges.
Goughnuts Tug MaXX
The Goughnuts Tug MaXX ($34) is a great tug toy; there are different sizes for medium to giant dog breeds, according to Dr. Hall. "I recommended this for a few reasons being that it's very durable for hours of playing tug-o-war with your dog," he said, "or even a casual evening of being chewed on nonstop. But also, it's made of tough rubber so it's easy to clean and is comfortable to hold in your hand as you're tugging away."
Pet Zone IQ Treat Ball
For dogs who are maybe less active, are less food-motivated, or get very bored (not calling out any of your pups!), Dr. Hall recommends the Pet Zone IQ Treat Ball ($10) because of the hours of interactive fun it provides. It has several difficulty settings, he said, and mimics the idea of a slow feeder. For dogs who finish off their food bowl in two seconds, he said this can help reduce episodes of regurgitation and aspiration associated with eating too fast. It can be filled with treats or regular kibble.
Top Paw Tuff With Bite Shield Protection Dragon Dog Toy
Dr. Hodges and Dr. Ferguson recommend the Top Paw Tuff With Bite Shield Protection Dragon Dog Toy ($13) as an excellent choice for puppies. The Bite Shield protection is a reinforced layer of fabric under the plush top layer that helps stop pups from tearing all the insides out of that toy, they said.
"These toys have double the fun — a squeaker up front and a crinkler in the back! They're also super soft so those puppies can cuddle," they said. "Just remember to never leave your baby alone with a soft toy."