How to choose a dog toy for your pooch? It can be confusing with so much choice. Some dog toys are designed for chewing, while others are meant for fetching, tugging, or playing solo. Like us, each dog likes different things! Some are food driven, others love soft toys and some just want a game of fetch!
Look no further, we have a roundup of our five favourite dog toys to keep your furry friend entertained, mentally stimulated and physically active. Look out for our Dog Geek top tips to see which toy is best for your dog. Whether you’re looking for a tough chew toy, a soft and cuddly plush, or a challenging puzzle, there’s a dog toy out there that’s perfect for your furry companion.
1. Dog Puzzles
Toy puzzles for dogs are my absolute favourite interactive games for dogs! They are amazing for providing mental stimulation for dogs, especially if they aren’t tired after a walk and need to channel their energy into something else. These can be good for dogs with separation anxiety to distract them whilst you are practising being apart. It keeps your dog busy with lovely treat rewards!
There are a range of dog puzzles out there, ranging from simple to complex, so you can choose one that’s perfect for your dog’s age and skill level. You’ll probably find that you’ll need more complicated puzzles the more that they do… clever things). These dog puzzles often involve hiding treats or kibble inside compartments or under flaps, and your pooch has to figure out how to work the puzzle to get to the food!
- Preventing boredom and keeping your dogs mind active
- Channeling extra energy
- Dogs often feel sleepy after working their brain
- Some puzzles may be too complex for your dog . We recommend starting easy and building up to advanced levels
- Supervision is recommended in case the toy breaks into smaller pieces
- They tend to be quite large in size so can take up more room than a normal dog toy
2. KONG Classic Dog Toy
Following on from the theme of brain games is The KONG classic dog toy! Known for its famous hollow cone shape made of natural rubber, this popular brand of dog toy is both durable and versatile. Its unique shape and texture are perfect for dogs who are heavy chewers as it can withstand a lot of wear and tear.
KONGs can be filled with kibble, peanut butter, wet food, cheese, vegetables or any of your dogs favourite treats that will fit inside. This challenging rubber toy is a cross with a brain game and provides a challenging and rewarding experience for dogs. They can be purchased in a range of sizes and firmnesses. Extra small for tiny puppies who are starting out with brain games, or larger KONGs for giant breeds such as a Bernese mountain dog.
These toys are very cost efficient, meaning that if they get damaged, they can be replaced without breaking the bank.
- Cost efficient
- You can hide a wide variety of treats inside
- Comes in many different sizes
- A great brain game for your dog
- Available in most pet shops
- As your dog grows from a puppy to a dog, they will need a different KONG type to suit their teeth and size
3. Tennis Balls
The most simple classic dog toy! We all know that tennis balls are a popular choice for dog toys, especially when playing fetch. They are lightweight, bouncy, and easy to grip. Tennis balls can be durable, depending on how rough your dog is with chewing their toys. Playing fetch with your dog is the ultimate game to get lots of energy out. If your dog loves to run, consider investing in a tennis ball thrower, for that extra distance.
Despite tennis balls being the OG of dog toys, it’s important to note that they are not suitable for all dogs, especially those with strong jaws or aggressive chewers. For dogs who like to rip apart toys, it may be worth investing in an extra strong dog tennis ball, rather than a regular tennis ball.
If you want to go one step further you could invest in an automatic ball launcher. It has been know for dogs to learn to play fetch with this automatic machine!
- Lightweight and small to store
- Encourages running
- Perfect for a game of fetch
- Extra strong tennis balls are available for chewing dogs
- They can pick up dirt
- They can get lost in bushes easily
4. Soft Dog Toys
Soft dog toys, also known as plush toys, are soft and cuddly. These dog toys are often made of fabric or stuffed with filling, and they come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes, and colours. Soft dog toys are often double stitched with reinforced rope inside for durability, so canines can play and bite without the risk of the toy falling apart. Of course wear and tear does happen, but it’s essential to buy good quality soft dog toys for longevity.
Soft dog toys can be cuddled, chewed and thrown around. My dog loves a small soft dog toy with a crackling sound on the inside. (She always greets me at the door with her favourite in her mouth)
- A huge range of soft toys are available so you can find the perfect one for your dog
- They are more durable than a kids soft toy
- They can pick up dirt so it is advised to wash them regularly
- Some dogs don’t like soft toys
5. Rope Pulls
Another classic dog toy! I’m sure we all know what a rope pull is, but if not, these are entwined rope, often with knots and/or handles on either end. They can be long or small depending on which rope pull you choose. Your dog grabs the knot end in their mouth and pulls, while you hold onto the handle. A very simple game, but provides endless hours of fun.
- Excellent for tiring your dog out
- Rope pulls tend to be very durable
- Cost efficient toy
- This can reward dog for pulling and biting, consult your dog trainer if you need more information on how to manage this behaviour outside of the game
Emma Wally is the founder of thedoggeeks.com, a website for dog owners in the UK and the rest of the world. Emma has a lifelong love of dogs and has devoted years to learning and training dogs of various kinds and ages.
Emma’s love for dogs and animals started as a child with looking after many different pets from fish, to dogs and even sheep. This love for animals led her into the world of dog training; with a real passion in positive reinforcement techniques.
Dog training specialist
Emma has completed multiple certifications in dog training, focussing on positive reinforcement techniques.
Puppy socialisation group
Emma is also the founder of 'Stony Stratford Puppy and Dog Group'. This growing community of dog enthusiasts provides weekly socialistion for new puppies and dogs wanting to integrate into socialisation, as well as giving specialist training advice for dog owners wanting to address problems... Or just wanting to give their pup the best life they can!
Kobe is Emma's current fluffy best friend. Being a Tibetan Terrier she can be stubborn at times but has the biggest personality for such a small dog.
Passionate about Dogs
Emma Wally is more than just a dog trainer; she is a mentor, a guide, and a friend to all dog owners seeking to build a better relationship with their furry companions. Her commitment to enhancing the lives of dogs and their owners is evident in every piece of advice she shares, making her a trusted and respected figure in the dog training community. Trust Emma, and you trust a true dog geek.