A Guide To Dog Toys: Why They're So Important & How They Can Help Your Dog

Dog Care

Intro To Toys

Why do dogs play?
Do they really need toys?
What dog toys should I buy?
What dog toy can help me with....?
Are my dogs toys safe?

...If you find yourself asking any of these questions this is the blog for you!

Toys are important for your dog’s well-being for many reasons; from helping fight boredom through to developing motor skills, to providing comfort when they’re feeling nervous.

And though not the only answer to your problems, through distraction and entertainment, toys can help prevent your dog from developing an array of problems.

Read on to find out:

  1. Do Dogs Want to Play
  2. Why Do Dogs Need Toys,
  3. What Dog Toy Can Help Me With...
  4. Toy Recommendations (Do's & Don'ts)
  5. Toy Safety Tips & Info


Do Dogs Want To Play?

Simply put...Yes! Dogs want and need to play to help develop mentally and physically into the best version of themselves.

We have for many years picked out things we like such as: fur type and size, and bred dogs to enhance or keep these traits. Choosing features such as friendliness, training compliance and companionship has led to the common dog wanting and needing to play!

Many studies have shown that dog play helps

  • Develop motor skills
  • Bond with owners
  • Reduce aggressive interactions
  • Increase confidence
  • Improves your dogs welfare through
    • Increasing fitness
    • Self-reward
    • Positive experiences
    • Bonding with other dogs & humans


#1. Studies show that when dogs play by themselves they prefer toys that can be destroyed. Suggesting play comes from a predatory behaviour.

#2. When playing with humans, dogs don’t think of play as a contest for dominance, but rather, they just find it really rewarding winning possession of the toy.


Why Do Dogs Need Toys?

Dogs in boring or plain environments can develop behaviors such as:

  • Excessive licking and chewing their paws, tail and other body parts
  • Increased barking and whining
  • Efforts to escape enclosed areas
  • Circling and pacing
  • Destructive tendencies
  • Eating their own waste

To help prevent or reduce the above behaviors your dog must be enriched! Toys are a great way to do this and help dogs by: 

  • Decreasing their barking, digging, escaping and destructive tendencies through keeping them engaged and distracted
  • Decreasing their response to noise, strangers or other dogs
  • Make their living space more interesting and complex
  • Making them forage and utilize their senses
  • Keeping them busy and entertained through problem solving
  • Increasing physical fitness through movement
  • Providing self-rewarding, positive activities and satisfaction
  • Helping bonding with humans and also other dogs
  • Increasing the amount of time it takes to eat meals.


#3. Studies have shown food enrichment toys such as stuffing toys stimulates appetite, increases the level of exercise and lowers barking; promoting the welfare of dogs.



Keeping My Dog Active

Recommended: Hard rubber toys/ Rope toys/ Fetch Toys

  • Rubber toys come in many shapes and sizes are fun for carrying around and chewing
  • Rope and woven toys offer the same fun with an addition of allowing tug-of-war and interesting textures in addition to rubber toys
  • Tennis balls are a good cheap fetch toy but sturdier balls will be needed if your dog likes to chew them up!

Comfort for Creatures products you might be interested in:

Rope toy 2Rope toy 3

Distracting My Dog

Recommended: Food Dispensing/Stuffing toys/ Snuffle/ Puzzle Toys

  • Different shaped toys which allow your dog to move around with their nose mouth and paws for your dog to work for their food
  • Includes any toys which are able to be filled with broken up treats and dry food
  • TIPS
    • If your vet days your dog can have peanut butter make sure it has no xylitol which is toxic for dogs
    • Food toys are also great for dogs which eat to quickly!

Comfort for Creatures products you might be interested in:

Treat toy 1Treat toys 2Treat toy 3

Comforting My Dog

Recommended: Soft toys/ Latex Toys

  • Great for several purposes but aren’t appropriate for all dogs
  • TIPS
    • If your dog sees their toy as a companion pick one small enough to carry
    • If your dog likes to shake or “kill” their toys choose one large enough to prevent accidental swallowing and sturdy enough to withstand rough play
  • Always supervise your dog with soft toys as even sturdy toys with pet safe filling can be hazardous if swallowed

Comfort for Creatures products you might be interested in:

 Comfort toy 1Comfort toy 2Comfort toy 3


Toy Reccomendations

Dog Toys Which ARE NOT Recommended

  • Toys Which Are Harder Than Your Dogs Teeth.
    • Hard toys can break teeth or leave micro fractures in the enamel
    • When in doubt do the fingernail test. If you can’t press your nail into it its most likely to hard for your dog to chew on
  • Small Toys
    • Especially toys small enough to fit in your dogs mouth while it's closed.
    • Small toys are much to easy to destroy and ingest which could cause intestinal blockages.
    • May be a chocking hazard
  • Sticks and Branches
    • Sticks are extremely dangerous and can splinter and get lodged in the throat, even piercing major arteries or organs
    • Sticks can also splitter and perforate the mouth, intestines or even the heart.

Dog Toys Which ARE Recommended

  • Durable Puzzle Feeders, Kibble Dispensers & Food Toys

    • Great as an enrichment tool for dogs of all ages and can help with many behaviour problems.

    • Includes Snuffle Mats, Lickimats, Kibble/ Food Dispensing Toys, Stuffing Toys.
    • Kibble or low fat treats can be used to stuff an array of different toys to slow down meal times or make them more mentally stimulating.
    • The use of food dispensing toys encourages use of scent, problem solving, foraging behaviour & increases activity through exercise.
    • For toys with a large opening that require a plug the opening should be smaller than the pets bottom jaw but not large enough to swallow.
  • Tug/Chase Toys
    • Flirt pole or long durable rope toys are great options for tug
 of war and are especially useful for keeping sharp puppy teeth at a distance 
from a persons hands during play.
    • Ensure if your dog likes to eat rope you remove the toy when not playing tug or fetch games to avoid intestinal blockages
  • Fetch Toys
    • Use toys which are large enough so that your dog can’t fit the whole thing in their mouth and close their mouth when carrying the toy.
    • Ensure there are no Sharpe edges on toys such as plastic frisbees especially old ones.


    Toy Safety Tips and Info

    When selecting toys safety depends on a number of factors such as your dogs:

    • Size
    • Activity level
    • Environment
    • Play preferences (toy type, way they interact with the toy ect).


    Preventing Problems

    Although the safety of any specific toy can’t be guaranteed the following guidelines can be considered a great way to prevent possible problems:

    • Ensure toys are not big enough for your dog to put in their mouth fully (mouth closed), but they are big enough for them to carry.
    • Avoid toys with/or remove ribbons, small strings or parts you think may be torn off and ingested
    • Remove labels and discard the toy when it begins to fall or tear apart
    • Soft toys should not be considered indestructible though some are more durable and require monitoring.
    • Take care when toys have squeakers as some dogs destroy toys to seek them out, and they are a choking hazard.
      • Supervise your dog and remove the toy and squeaker when its broken and becomes exposed.
    • When buying children’s toys ensure they are suitable for children under three years of age and don’t contain dangerous fillings (nutshells, polystyrene beads ect)


      This is blog is not firsthand veterinary advice. All references are credible sources provided by veterinary associations, peer reviewed scientific journal articles or government information websites.


      1. Preferences for toy types
      2. Why do dogs play?
      3. Safe Dog Toys
      4. Feeding Enrichment Toys
      5. Environmental Enrichment for Dogs
      6. Dog toys which are safe/ to avoid
      7. Why do dogs ‘play’?

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