Quite simply, the best toy for your dog is the one your dog likes best. But getting to that point does require you to candidly assess your canine’s personality.
Toys for dogs put the capital D in diverse in terms of price, size, durability and purpose. But there is no need to feel a case of canine confusion. Dogster reached out to a few pet experts who readily unleashed some great advice in choosing the most appropriate type of toys for your dog’s unique attitude.
Matching dog toys to dog personalities
Dogs, like people, display various personalities and have specific toy preferences. Here is a rundown of eight canine personalities with suggestions for toys, including the best dog toys for chewers, the best interactive dog toys and toys for the most curious of dogs.
- Inquisitive dogs: Is your dog say, as curious as a cat? Does she always seem to be getting into things, eager to explore new surroundings, indoors and outdoors?
Sharon Lacaze, co-owner and operations manager at What a Great Dog! training center with locations in Frisco and Richardson, Texas, recommends puzzle toys as these dogs love to problem solve and tap into their curious natures. Keep things interesting by rotating these puzzles every few days and providing toys of various levels of difficulty.
Examples include those made by Pet Dream House, Nina Ottosson puzzles for Outward Hound and Leaps & Bounds Puzzles. Read more about how to choose a puzzle toy here.
- Shy dogs: Maybe your dog is new to the home after being in a shelter or found homeless on the streets. These dogs may need your reassurance and may take a long time to warm up to new places, new people and, yes, new toys.
Sharon recommends stationary toys for these dogs because movement can be scary. Lick mats, such as this LickiMat, are ideal to encourage these dogs to sniff and to lick. For timid puppies, consider toys that mimic the heartbeat and heat of their litter mates, such as Snuggle Puppies.
- Independent dogs: It is as if this type of dog is saying to you, “Hey, thanks, but no thanks. I can handle this toy all on my own. You just go ahead and go shopping or binge on Netflix.” Don’t be offended. These dogs feel best when they get to play with toys on their own. Any type of toy may work for them, but try an independent toy like the Outdoor Interactive Tether Tug Dog Toy.
- Social dogs: These canines would win popularity contests because they love, love, love to interact with their favorite people and even their favorite dogs. Toys for them need to involve participation with others.
The best interactive dog toys include tug-of-war toys that allow a person to hold onto one end while the dog grabs the other end. Games of fetch in which these dogs can chase down toys and bring them back to you are also good choices. “For social dogs, it is more about this connection than the actual rope toy,” explains Liz Murdoch, an animal communicator and pet relationship coach whose Talking with the Dogs! company is based in the Los Angeles area. “Socialized dogs crave that special bond they have with their special people. These dogs make a lot of eye contact with their people.”
- Active dogs: You may find yourself wondering if your high-energy dog has a Duracell battery inside because he is on the go a lot. He rarely walks slowly. He prefers to chase, run, dash and leap.
The best dog toys for active dogs are things they can chase down and catch again and again. Save your throwing arm by opting for the Chuckit! (with varieties made for indoor and outdoor play), the durable Kong flyer and the iFetch Mini Automatic Ball Launcher.
- Laidback dogs: These dogs are super mellow and crave naps on the couch over chasing a ball in the backyard that you just tossed. They prefer low-key and low-energy activities.
Our experts suggest you consider safe chews, such as Benebones or frozen treats, such as the West Paw Toppl, that these dogs can calmly enjoy. To learn more about picking dog chews, read here.
- Tactile dogs: These dogs love exploring, pawing, digging and chewing to achieve canine bliss. Some will even try to bury prized toys in sofa cushions or worse, dug-out holes in your lawn.
The best dog toys for diggers include such durable toys packed with delight as the iFetch iDig Stay Dog Toy, Step2Play Sandbox with Cover and the PetSafe Busy Buddy Squirrel Dude Dog Toy that dispenses treats.
- Sensing dogs: We know that dogs possess a superior sense of smell than we do. People possess about 5 million olfactory receptor cells, compared to more than 100 million in dogs. If you dropped a potato chip in a swimming pool, your dog’s mighty nose could easily detect it.
Additionally, these dogs may pay extra attention to what they hear and to what they see, more so than other dogs.
One of Scott Black’s, the founder of Personal Touch Pet Sitting and a former Pet Sitter of the Year from Pet Sitters International, rescued dogs is Chato, a mixed breed born blind and deaf. “But he definitely makes up for those lost senses with his ability to smell,” says Scott.
Chato is more drawn to snuffle mats or stuffed Kongs that he can “find” using his nose.
For dogs who love sniffing, Sharon suggests rolling treat balls that can be seen, heard and smelled as well as flirt poles that they can see and give chase. Flirt toys are catch-and-release toys that work your dog’s mind and body. Examples include those made by Outward Hound — like the Tail Teaser Dog Want Lure Toy, Pupford — the Exendable Flirt Pole for Dogs, and Squishy Face Studio — the Flirt Pole V2.
Bottom line: Bring out the best in your dog by identifying his play style so you can provide the best-suited toys and not waste money or time on toys your dog will ignore.