Toys and Games

Printer-friendly version

All puppies love to play, and most adult dogs still enjoy a good run around and games with their owners. Purpose-made toys are designed to be fun for dogs, but it is amazing how many are not safe for dogs which like to chew. The manufacturers do not offer this information overtly, but you may find the words ‘not designed for unsupervised play’ in tiny writing in a corner.

  • that it has no rough or sharp edges;
  • that it is too large to stick in your dog’s throat;
  • that any stitches are firm and the fabric is tough;
  • if painted, that the paint is pet-safe and not flaking;
  • that it is tough enough to withstand rough play.
Chewy toys. Dogs enjoy chewing, chasing and pulling, so make sure they play or exercise with a toy that you chose, rather than with a household item that they fancy. Rubber balls, nylon bones and hard rubber toys are all ideal.
Tug-of-war. Bored or inactive dogs are prone to bursts of destructive behaviour. A tug-of-war game with a pull toy, such as a knotted rope, helps channel that energy into positive exercise. Only play tug-of-war games with your dog, after he has learnt to drop a toy on your command, and make sure that you always win when playing, otherwise your dog will believe that he is dominant over you!
Balls and Frisbees. Chasing after a frisbee or a bouncing ball makes terrific exercise and an exciting outdoor game for your dog. Ensure that you have plenty of unrestricted space to allow as much exercise for your dog as possible. Catch and retrieve games are an excellent way to test your dog’s reactions and obedience, channel its natural jumping instincts, reduce destructive activity, and help you to assert your authority.
Squeaky toys. Puppies and adult dogs that enjoy biting on squeaky toys often have a
strong predatory streak. If your puppy gets over-excited with these toys, keep him away from smaller pets and try to channel his energy into another game.
'Home alone' toys. Dogs’ minds need stimulating as well as their bodies. ‘Kong’ toys are made of strong rubber and have hollow centres for you to fill with edible treats, whilst ‘reward’ balls and cubes dispense treats when the dog pushes them around on the ground. Both toys engage the dog’s mind, and therefore make ideal ‘home alone’ toys.


Some of the Dos and Don’ts of Play

  • Never throw sticks or small balls for your dog. Sticks can become lodged in the throat and mouth, and damage teeth, whilst small balls may be swallowed.
  • Discard any toy that becomes damaged.
  • Do not give dog’s old shoes and clothes to play with, as they may assume that they can chew new ones!
  • Restrict the use of any toy to prevent possessiveness in your dog. Regularly removing one toy and then re-introducing it a month or so later, will stop your dog becoming bored with his toys.
  • Have a specific word, such as ‘finish’, to indicate the end of a game or play session.