Dog Toys: Not Just Playin’ Around

When you see your puppy or adult dog playing with a toy, he’s not just playing. Depending on the activity, dog toys can be used for:

  • Mental stimulation- when games are played that involve problem solving
  • To teach Instructional Commands (such as “Give” or  “Find it!”)
  • Build a foundation for other training later in life (retrieving, obedience, etc.)
  • Activities to reduce separation issues when the owner is gone
  • Rewards during training- used contingently, dog toys can be one of the most effective positive reinforcers for training
  • Breed specific activities (Sporting breeds retrieving, Terriers and squeaky toys)
  • Exercise
  • Fun
  • Bonding

There are different types of toys.

  • Biting Toys- can help with teething and can be used to teach puppies and dogs that they should not mouth or bite people during play, but a toy instead
  • Balls- can teach gross motor skills and provide exercise. Puppies can learn the basics of other skills such as the retrieving that can be developed for hunting, obedience competition, or other advanced skills
  • Chew Toys- are good for teething and are important during developmental changes in dentition, they strengthen the face and neck muscles
  • Noise Toys- teach dogs to not be afraid in the presence of unusual sounds, they teach cause/effect—squeeze it to make the sound, and they can be used for practice at locating sounds
  • Soft Toys- a familiar soft toy provides comfort and familiarity. Many dogs will take their favorite stuffed animal to their bed. Taking a favorite toy along on a trip will make the dog feel more at home.
  • Hard toys with food inside- can keep a dog busy and thus, reduce separation issues.

At our house, stuffed animals are the preferred toy for (supervised) Puppy Play time. Does your dog have a favorite toy?

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About Canine Good Citizen

AKC Canine Good Citizen Director, Author of the AKC's official CGC book, "CITIZEN CANINE"
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3 Responses to Dog Toys: Not Just Playin’ Around

  1. Pamela says:

    My dogs love the stuffed animals that have squeaky balls to take out. The adore the balls inside on their own too.

  2. Having terriers, mine prefer the ‘soft’ squeeky toys – until they ‘kill it’; fortunately ‘squeekers’ can be purchased in bulk at shows and (don’t tell anyone) this is the only ‘sewing’ I will do – to repair ‘dead’ toys — some don’t last 5 seconds, much less 5 minutes! but they have so much fun it’s well worth the effort. Fortunately they don’t eat the ‘stuffin’ when it starts to come out –
    we call it ‘gutting’ — they’re pretty good at that too.
    Balls, not so much – retrieving is beneith their dignity – maybe two or three ‘retrieves’ then I get the ‘Hey Stoopid– if you want the xxxx ball this time you’ll have to get it yourself’ look. They do love the ‘treat dispensing’ roller balls, and the board games though — anything for FOOD!
    Three cup shell game for a green bean! at least they’re not picky.

  3. I have to go back and look at the new comments – I thought your daughter’s blog was fantastic (every newbie blogger would love to rock as hard as she did.
    Adult add treatment nyc

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