How to Find the Best Dog Toy to Keep Your Canine Occupied
Good, Treat-Stuffable Dog ToysPublished October 18, 2012
I love activity dog toys that can be stuffed with treats. I stock a ton of them at Life on the Leash, each one with a varying degree of difficulty. You might think one hollow rubber toy is as good as the next, but they are many options of complexity and durability that can mean the difference between a constructively occupied dog and one that empties the toy quickly. (Or one that destroys it!) Before you select a busy toy for your pooch, consider the following in order to find the best dog toy to fit your pet's needs:
Is it your dog’s first activity toy?
The concept behind busy toys is to keep your dog happy and engaged. That said, you need to walk the line between offering a toy that will keep your dog busy and one that is so complex that your dog will get frustrated and give up on it. The first few times you give one to your dog, make it easy for him to get the goodies out. You want him to understand the process of unpacking the treats so that the next time you give it to him he’s ready to work. You can stuff the treats more tightly as he gets better at manipulating the toy, so that he has to try harder each time you give it to him.
Is the dog toy the right size?
It probably goes without saying that the best dog toy for your pet is one that your dog can’t choke on, but consider the size of the treat dispensing hole in the toy as well. Millie was once playing with an appropriately-sized busy toy but she was so eager to get the treats out of it that she accidentally lodged the edge of her lower jaw in it. She came to me with the toy hanging from her mouth, whining. I ran to get our heavy duty kitchen shears only to see her pop the thing off a second later. We were lucky; had she been home alone with the toy she might have panicked. Make sure that any pliable treat dispensing toy (meaning, a soft rubber material that gives in your hand) has either more than one hole or no holes. Toys with only one hole can create a vacuum, and the dog’s tongue can get trapped inside, as was the case years ago.
Do you want your dog to move around while he plays with the toy?
Sometimes you want your dog to settle down in one spot and work on the activity toy, as is the case when a dog is recovering from surgery, or when the dog is crated. On the flip side, many of us want a stuffed toy that will keep our dogs active and moving around in order to burn off some of that endless energy. Balls and “wobbly” toys that need to be kicked around to dispense goodies are more active toys, while unusually shaped toys (like the black toy in this treat stuffing video) tend to need a concentrated chew style.
Is the toy easy to clean?
Even expert unpackers occasionally leave treat residue inside, so make sure that you can get it tidied up for the next play session. If you have a good treat toy that’s tough to clean, try soaking it in a pot filled with water until the junk can be dislodged.
Activity toys that are able to be stuffed with treats are lifesavers for busy dogs. Finding the best dog toy for your pet is an art, but once you find it you’ll have a quiet, happy canine!