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Pets

Best Dog Toy

We all love our dogs and finding the right toy for our canine pals can be a challenge.  They turn up their noses at something we think is cool and fun and instead roll with gleeful abandon on an invisible spot on the lawn.  There are toys for just about every dog, whether they are a chewer or a tugger, whether they would rather figure out a puzzle or just settle down with a tasty food treat or if they like to chase toys.

Not every toy is right for every dog; the indestructible could be destroyed in five minutes, the squeaky toy is ignored, the long lasting treat is swallowed in three bites, so it's important to figure out your dog's play style and plan accordingly.  And if the moment comes when the toy sits between you and your canine companion and your dog ends up just walking away, think about taking that toy to your local animal shelter.  Who knows, you might come back with another new friend.

Kyjen Dog Games Cross Slider with Treat Ball

For dogs who like balls with their food, the Kyjen Cross Slider might be the answer.  Fill the Hide-a-Treat ball with tasty treats and drop it in the Cross Slider.  Your dog has to get the ball out of the Cross Slider in order to get his treats.  What’s great about this toy is that you can increase the difficulty: leave all the exits open as your dog learns how to get the Hide-a-Treat ball out and then use the three enclosed doors to block exits.  And here’s the real bonus: tennis balls will fit in the Cross Slider!  Just place that favorite, slobbery tennis ball in the Cross Slider and let your dog figure it out.

Nina Ottosson Dog Treat Maze Dog Puzzle

What’s great about this food delivery toy is its flying saucer shape.  It’s not a ball that your dog can roll across the floor a few times and get his kibble.  Instead, he’ll have to flip it with his feet or nudge it to jiggle the treats out.  Because it’s made with a hard plastic, it can get pretty noisy when your dog sends it flying around the room and the kibble bounces around inside it.  But the good news is that he can play with it outside, too.  It comes in two sizes so no one’s left out.  The Dog Treat Maze is not made for chewing so make sure you’re around to keep an eye on the fun.

Bubbletastic Dog Bacon Bubble Machine

Bacon.  Where would we be without it?  Bubbles.  What’s not to like?  Fill the bubble machine with the bacon bubble mix and let your dog run, jump and play in a non-stop world of heavenly bacon bubbles.  The bubble solution is non-toxic and non-tearing.  This is not a toy meant for rough play and may not work if it’s knocked over.  Who needs champagne bubbles when you can have bacon?

PetSafe Busy Buddy Tug-A-Jug Meal Dispensing Dog Toy

The Busy Buddy Tug-a-Jug is another treat dispensing toy — with a twist: there’s a rope at the open end that blocks the treats from just falling out.  Not only does your dog have to work to get her treats from around the rope, he can also carry the Tug-a-Jug around easily.  The Busy Buddy Tug-a-Jug is available in three sizes, so your Chihuahua can enjoy it just as much as your Lab.  If your dog is a chewer and gets the rope off, you can put a ball inside the Tug-a-Jug to make it harder to get the treats out.

Kong Wobbler - Toy and Treat Dispenser, for Dogs

The Kong Wobbler gets votes for being a quieter treat-dispensing toy.  Unscrew the base to fill the Wobbler with kibble or treats and let your dog chase it around as it spins, rolls and wobbles around the room.  The Kong Wobbler is a great alternative for apartment living hounds.  The Wobbler comes in Small, which holds about ½ cup of food and the Large which hold about a cup.

GoughNuts Black Tough Dog Toy

If you’re ever wondering if your dog’s toy has “had enough,” GoughNuts chew toys offer a visual clue that you should replace the toy: when the red inner core shows through, it’s time to get a new one. The GoughNuts Black is for extreme chewers and comes in different sizes. Doughnut shaped, it bounces! It rolls! It floats! Perfect for a dog who loves the outdoors. Although a bit pricier than other toys for monster chewers, the manufacturer guarantees that it will replace a damaged toy for the cost of shipping.

Tuffy Mega Tug-Oval Dog Toy

There’s nothing like a good game of tug, whether it’s you and your dog or a pair of dogs engaged in an epic battle of tug o’ war. Rated a 10 on the TuffScale, the Tuffy Mega Tug-Oval is designed for tough tuggers. Multiple layers of material, webbing and stitching add durability. It’s also machine washable and it floats. Tuffy Mega toys come in a variety of shapes and sizes including balls, rings and bones. These toys are designed for tough play and are not intended for your dog to chew.

KONG Extreme Dog Toy

Tougher than even the original Kong, this pyramid-shaped rubber toy has been the go-to toy for pet owners with powerful chewers. Dogs who love Kongs not only satisfy their desire to chew, but also help keep their teeth clean. Owners can add to their dog’s enjoyment and entertainment by filling the Kong with treats that the dog has to work to remove. Stuffing the Kong with peanut butter or yogurt and then freezing it before giving it to your dog extends the time it will take him to get all of his treats. The unpredictable bounce of the Kong when it’s thrown adds to the fun of a good game of “catch.”

Kyjen Invincibles Gecko 4 Squeak Dog Toy

Is your dog determined to de-squeak her toys? Does she capitalize on the slightest construction or design imperfection and shred her toy within minutes? Are you tired of picking up dead squeakers and soggy stuffing? The Extreme Seam Invincibles Blue Gecko 4 Squeak may be the answer. Made of extra-durable material and extra-durable seams, Invincibles are designed with squeakers that will continue to squeak even after being punctured. Invincibles are made without stuffing so even if your dog does find her way in, you won’t come home to a house covered with white fluff. Geckos and snakes come in different sizes, ranging from 2 squeaks to 6 squeaks, giving your dog plenty of squeaky fun.

Nylabone Monster Bone Chew Toy

Nylabones are another time-tested toy for tough dogs. Made of nylon and flavored (bacon seems to be a favorite), Nylabone Dura Chews also come in a variety of shapes and sizes as well as textures. Because these toys are designed for serious chewing by serious chewers, make sure you regularly check the toy for broken or sharp pieces that could injure your dog. Be aware that Nylabone also makes edible chew toys and softer chew toys that obviously won’t stand up to the punishment of a tough chewer.

KONG Extreme Dog Toy

Tougher than even the original Kong, this pyramid-shaped rubber toy has been the go-to toy for pet owners with powerful chewers. Dogs who love Kongs not only satisfy their desire to chew, but also help keep their teeth clean. Owners can add to their dog’s enjoyment and entertainment by filling the Kong with treats that the dog has to work to remove. Stuffing the Kong with peanut butter or yogurt and then freezing it before giving it to your dog extends the time it will take him to get all of his treats. The unpredictable bounce of the Kong when it’s thrown adds to the fun of a good game of “catch.”

Kyjen Hide A Squirrel

For dogs who think that soft and squeaky is heaven, the Kyjen Hide-a-Squirrel toy is the way to get there. A tree stump filled with squeaky squirrels (well, they might actually be chipmunks) puts your dog's prey drive in gear by challenging him to pull them out and shake and squeak them. You can really pack the squirrels in making it harder for your dog to fish them out. And if your dog is known for his search and destroy behavior, you can also buy replacement squirrels. Hiding treats in the stump before stuffing the squirrels will increase your dog's interest.

JW Pet Company Giggler Ball

If your dog likes to "chase and chew" his toys the JW Pet Company Giggler Ball may just be the toy for him! The Giggler Ball makes its funny "giggling" noise when your dog shakes or squeezes the ball. Many customers report that this ball is also pretty durable, so those power chewers in the house will have a tough time destroying it. And if your dog finds a way to tear the ball, you don't have to worry about him ingesting any batteries. The Giggler Ball comes in different sizes with the "regular" being a good fit for small or medium-sized dogs.

Starmark Academy Treat Dispensing Pickle Pocket

This toy is great just because of its name! The Starmark Treat Dispensing Pickle Pocket is a versatile toy that you can stuff with Starmark Breath Freshening Mints or other treats like biscuits or even peanut butter. The Pickle Pocket is made of a soft, yet durable material, giving your dog some enjoyable chew tiime even after all the treats are gone. Its odd shape makes for a great game of fetch as the Pickle Pocket takes funny bounces. The Pickle Pocket also floats so if Harley is a water-loving boy, throw it in the lake!

PetQwerks Animal Sounds X-Tire Balls

“What’s that noise?” If that’s your dog’s reaction to funny noises, then the PetQwerks Animal Sounds X-Tire Balls is for him. Made to roll and bounce, the X-Tire Balls come in two sizes and make the sounds of goats, coyotes and many more fun noises as your dog chases it and tosses it around. One downside reported by many owners is that there is no "off" switch, so if you don't want to hear your dog playing with it at the crack of dawn you will have to put it away. These toys are made of a harder plastic material and are not really suitable for serious chewing. As with all battery-operated toys, please monitor your dog's playtime to ensure that he doesn't ingest the batteries, especially if he's a chewer!

Joanne Dekker
I am a lifelong pet owner with a current pet load of two dogs and three cats. I've also owned horses, birds and fish. I've been a volunteer at a local animal shelter since 2004, primarily as a dog walker, including working with abused and neglected dogs that have come from puppy mills or seizures. I have enjoyed the opportunity of working with all kinds of companion animals, and have received training in animal behaviors. I believe in using positive reinforcement when working with animals and have taken all my dogs to obedience training and/or agility classes. I am the author of "Planning for Pets: Trusts, Leash Laws and More," and have spoken on the subject of pet trusts as part of a "Silver Whiskers, Golden Bonds" presentation with veterinarian colleagues.
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