I just sent my about-to-get-a-puppy cousin a big list of Basil's favorite toys and thought other people might want this info. It's hard to know what toy your dog will love and you don't want to waste your money. These are toys that Basil plays with pretty much every single day! I know reviews always help me pick so here we go.
My biggest general tip is to keep toys in rotation. I have two baskets of toys for Basil and I switch them up every few days. When he hasn't seen a certain toy or bone for a few days when it reappears it is way more interesting than it usually is. And usually when toys roll under the couch I let them stay there awhile for the same reason!
Chuck It Sport Launcher: We only use this outside because this chucks the ball crazy far. It's great for dog parks & beaches and backyards. It's the perfect way to run out their energy and a big plus is that you use it to pick the ball up which is super nice when the ball gets slobbery. (Always bring this with to the dog park/beach in case no other dogs are there to play with!)
Chuck It Kick Fetch Ball: We use this ball inside & outside. It's a soccer ball sized ball and it's so funny to see Basil carry it! He loves everything about this ball. It has grooves in it to help him pick it up, plus it's not filled with air. I looked for something like this after Basil popped a few soccer balls!
Kong Frisbee: We use this inside & outside. Basil destroyed a regular frisbee so I went looking for another option. This is from the Kong brand and is made of the same indestructible rubber as their classic toy.
Kong Squeaky Tennis Balls: We use these mostly inside now (and the Chuck It outside). These are great for getting a dog's attention. Basil can get very distracted from fetch outside and the squeak helps remind him what we're doing. It can take puppies awhile to pick up on what fetch is and how to play so squeaking the ball helps a lot. Plus they have ping pong ball sized ones which I needed when Basil was a wee one.
Treat Dispensing Toys-
Classic Kong: This toy is classic for a reason! It's versatile and all dogs love it. These are great to give a puppy when they're going to be in their kennel for awhile because they can't destroy this! Fill it with peanut butter, wet food, canned pumpkin, etc. There are lots of "recipes" online for filling ideas to keep things interesting. They have a spray foam for it, but the ingredients weirded me out so I've never bought it.
Busy Buddy Kibble Ball: Basil loves toys that roll away from him and this ones dispenses food so he LOVES it! I put his dry puppy food in this and not actual treats. Basil is skinny so I don't have to worry about him getting fat yet, so he pretty much can access this toy whenever he wants. I fill it every other day or so with a half cup of food.
Busy Buddy Tug A Jug: It took Basil awhile to figure this out, he didn't really play with this until he was 6 months old. He rediscovered it and now that he is older & smarter he's better at figuring out how to get the food out. I also just put his dry food in this. I don't know if adult sized kibble would dispense very well, so it might be worth it to buy a bag of puppy food just for these two toys. It's cheaper than filling it with treats!
Mental Stimulation Puzzle toy: Basil is part border collie, so I have to keep him busy. He is a bundle of energy and is so smart! I pull this out when he is getting crazy and needs redirection. I put homemade beef treats in this or pieces of liver treats or dried chicken breast.
Here's another puzzle he has. He needs some new ones because he figures these out in two seconds now! Sometimes I put his meal in a puzzle to keep him on his toes or I just dump it out all over the floor and he has to "hunt" for each piece.
Play With Me Toys-
Squeaky Ducky: This is a great tug of war toy because it is so long. Plus it's a good hunting/chase toy- pull it along the floor and they have to be quick enough to grab it.
Water Bottle Toys: Basil doesn't have these exact ones, but they're the same idea. You stick an empty plastic water bottle in these and they LOVE the crinkle sound. Basil will play with these by himself, but also likes to fetch/tug with them. If you stuff the bottle with rags it stays plump longer and isn't destroyed as quickly (when you pull it out of the toy you won't believe how small it is when empty!).
Big thick sticks: Bigger ones last longer as actual chew toys before they're able to rip them into tiny pieces. Basil doesn't eat the pieces, if your dog does this might not be an option for you.
Empty hard plastic bottles: Basil loves toys that roll away from him and these fit the bill. He loves the variety from new toys as we finish off food. Juice or Gatorade bottles are good and Orville Redenbacher popcorn kernel bottles are his favorite. He likes thinner plastic ones too, like pop bottles or milk jugs, but he destroys them way faster and they only last few days before I have to throw them away. I also let him lick out containers (yogurt, etc) and play with them. But those literally last maybe a half hour tops before I have to take them away.
And here are the big kahunas that I like to call
'Happily Entertain Yourself While I Get Stuff Done' Toys-
Bully sticks & Braided bully sticks: These last awhile and are great kennel entertainment. I always make sure there is some sort of chew toy (not anything fabric, plastic, or a stick) and a Kong in Basil's kennel so that he doesn't have to just sleep if he doesn't want to.
Rawhide Bones: Basil likes anything rawhide and they last awhile. Again they're good kennel options. He hasn't had this exact one, but rawhide is rawhide I think.
Big "Meaty" Raw Bones: I buy things like these every once in awhile and they are a Big Deal. Basil doesn't have that exact one, but he has had similar ones. I've gotten them from his shelter's store and a doggy food truck (at his shelter's 5k race!). They have to made in the USA to be safe, so most grocery stores pet aisles don't fit the bill. I keep these away from him so that they are extra special when I give him one. Plus they're good for his teeth and raw bones are good for them. Cooked bones are what break into teeny tiny dangerous pieces. I haven't actually gotten any from a butcher yet, but I know Basil would LOVE that.
Toys I Do NOT Recommend:
Nylabone products: My dog I had growing up never really chewed his Nylabone that much, but I tried again with Basil since he was a puppy and I figured he'd chew on anything and not be picky. But just like my other dog he is not very interested even though I bought chicken & bacon flavored ones. Every once in awhile he will chew on one, but it's really rare. Your money is better spent on rawhide, a bully stick, or a raw bone.
Cooked Bones: Cooked bones are dangerous because they will easily break into teeny tiny sharp pieces and can hurt your dogs digestive tract at any point along the way. Raw bones are sturdier and not dangerous. Here's an article on the topic.
Any toy with stuffing: Stuffing is dangerous because as soon as a dog rips into the toy's fabric they can eat the stuffing. There are lots of toys with no stuffing though, so they're not hard to find. For example squeaky ducky has no stuffing.
Toys that look like things you don't want your dog to play with normally: Some dog toys look JUST like baby/kid toys! Same with "homemade" toys out of socks or wash cloths. How is your dog supposed to know what to play with and what not to?
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