How Many Toys Should A Dog Or Puppy Have
All puppies love playing of course and you may have noticed how creative they are with keeping themselves busy at home. As funny as it may be, you probably shouldn't encourage your puppy to play with your belongings. Imagine how impressed you will be when your pup mistakes your new shoes as a chew toy! Instead, teach your dog what they can or can't chew by giving them their own toys.
The best puppy toys will give hours of entertainment and stimulation to your furry friend. As reliable as the old fashioned ball is, you should try to keep your dog engaged by ensuring you have a variety of toys and change them up from time to time.
There is no hard and fast rule, but how many toys your puppy needs will vary depending on many factors such as; how many people are in your home, the size of your yard or if you have other pets. If you do need some ideas, there is such a wide range of toys to keep your puppy entertained and reduce the chance of them chewing something they shouldn't.
Why do puppies need to play?
Puppies should be encouraged to play, this is important for their long term health and well-being, they can learn motor skills, perception and balance. It is also a great way for your puppy to release their energy, and you will quickly realise how much energy puppies have!
Toys come in a great range of colours, shapes and materials, these can be an excellent way to engage your dog and develop their senses and cognitive function.
Since there are such large ranges of toys, you may be wondering what is best for puppies, as you know there are lots of different types. For example, there are toys that are designed so you can share the fun and be involved as well, some are can keep your dog interested when they are by themselves, and other interactive toys are used to train and improve your puppy's mental capacity.
Playing can also give you a chance to train and influence your puppy's attitude, temperament and how they behave with you, other people and other animals. You can address any unacceptable behaviour such as biting or nipping early and ensure your dog is growing into the dog that is suitable for you.
Choosing the right dog toys for your puppy
Choose solid puppy toys that will last.
As you probably already know, puppy teeth are very sharp and can do a lot of damage. Durable toys made from solid materials are more likely to keep your puppy entertained for longer, and also reduce the mess you will have to clean up. However, be careful not to let your dog chew hard materials as it can damage their gums, teeth and enamel.
There are lots of toys specifically designed for puppies as they are developing their baby teeth. Rope toys are especially good for this and can also be used while your puppy's adult teeth begin to come through - this is generally at about 16 weeks old.
Choose dog toys appropriate for the size of your dog.
This point might seem obvious, but ensure you don't get a toy designed for a golden retriever if you have a corgi. Your puppy will probably be able to work out when a toy is too big to pick up or they can't get their jaw around it - this is part of their learning, but you should be careful that they don't hurt or strain themselves.
From the other extreme, you should make sure you don't get toys that are too small if you have a larger dog as this could present a choking hazard. Make sure to replace any toys that become too small as your puppy grows bigger.
Pick Toys that are right for your puppy's age.
As fun as fetch toys such as a frisbee can be for you and your pet, it might be difficult to get your puppy involved if they are too small or young. You might also have some problems getting your puppy to solve interactive toys if their mind hasn't developed to a suitable level yet. The maturity for these can range for different types of dogs so check with breeders, online or with your vet if you're having issues.
Best puppy teething toys
Most puppy teeth start to fall out at around 3-4 months, this is also the time when their adult teeth will begin to grow. Just like with human children, this period can be uncomfortable for dogs. This is one of the main reasons that puppies seem to chew everything in sight!
By getting suitable toys you can help your puppy through this period.
- Opt for rubber or rope toys, these are durable and your puppy can safely chew them.
- You may be able to help soothe your dog's gums by cooling the toy in the fridge, some also have a compartment to add water.
- There are a wide variety of types and sizes, so try to find something suitable for your puppy's size.
Interactive and cognitive training toys
Try challenging your puppy's mind by encouraging them to solve a puzzle. Interactive toys can improve your dog's mental capacity and the encouragement and success can build your relationship and bond with your pet. These types of toys and games get your puppy thinking and can keep them busy and engaged.
- Puzzle toys such as when your dog needs to slide bricks around a tray to get to a treat or rolling balls that contain treats will get your dog thinking.
- Stimulate your puppy's sense with vibration toys, sound and squeaking toys or try using light or scents.
Playing outside with your puppy
Of course, your puppy will love to get outside for walks and to the dog park. This is a great idea and can allow your puppy to interact with other dogs. As fun as this can be, it's important to wait till they are at least 16 weeks old and have had the third round of vaccinations.
Some outdoors toys can enhance the fun and exercise your puppy will get.
- Playing fetch with a ball or flexible frisbee is a great way to get your puppy to use some energy.
- Try hide and seek with some treats around your garden, this is a great way to train and develop your dog's sense of smell, exploration and problem solving, further enhance the game with some treat toys and puzzles.
- Rubber balls can be fun to roll around, fetch and throw. (Try a ball launcher to save your arm!)
- During the warmer months see if your dog enjoys splashing around in a doggie pool or through a sprinkler.
When selecting puppy toys
Remember, just like babies, puppies need lots of rest and sleep for their development and well-being. It is better not to make your puppy overtired - even if they seem to want to keep playing. This also gives them a chance to reflect on the games and improves learning.
Most dogs are quite happy sleeping on the grass or floor as they grow older, but you could make your puppy more comfortable with a bed, blanket or cuddly toy. It's a good idea to have smaller spaced out play sessions that incorporate rest in between rather than one marathon play session.
Using the correct schedule and incorporating several different toys in your puppy's play can improve their development and the bond you share with your dog, ensuring they grow into a faithful companion.