How to Pick the Right Chew Toy

Not all toys are appropriate for all dogs.

You’ve probably seen the horrible X-rays on Facebook: dogs whose intestines are chock-full of toy bits, which take an expensive surgery to fix. Blech. Here’s how to pick the right chew for your pup.

Assess Your Dog’s Play Style

Does your dog chomp on toys like he’s chewing a piece of gum? Or pin them with his paws and attempt to disembowel them? Not all dogs play the same, so the same toy won’t hold all dogs’ interest in the same way. Once you determine how your dog prefers to play, in particular the voracity in which he tears into (or not) a new toy, you can start shopping.

Disregard Size (Sort of)

It’s a myth that large dogs are more destructive than small dogs. It can be true, but it isn’t always. My two large dogs love to tinker with their toys, so soft stuffies could last forever with them. My small guy, though, makes it his mission to de-squeak and destroy all toys. Disregard dog size as a measure of destructiveness. The size you need to take into account is the toy size; large dogs, even gentle giants, can accidentally swallow or choke on toys that are too small. Always choose a toy size appropriate for your dog. Hint: Since toys tend to get more “durable” as they get larger, go up a size—or two or three—if you have a destructive little dog like my guy.

Test Materials

Not all dogs enjoy the same materials. Soft, plush toys versus tough materials like seat belts and fire hoses versus rubber: Your dog might go wild for one and totally ignore another. Because materials testing can get expensive if you have to purchase several items to find a winner, consider arranging a toy swap with your dog-loving friends. Switch the ones that don’t work among your group of friends until you find the material that your dog loves most. Just be sure to wash the toys thoroughly before the exchange.

Monitor and Hone

As with anything you give your dog, monitor play closely. Remove any toys with broken or missing pieces, and take up anything that your dog can destroy too easily. Hint: It isn’t always what you think! I bought a $25 “indestructible” toy for my little destroyer, and he had it in shreds within minutes, but a cheap rubber floating toy is still completely intact. Keep an eye on all of your dog’s toys. Monitor them for damage, and keep trying until you find the perfect toy!

Meet the Author: Maggie Marton

Maggie is a writer and author, whose first book, Clicker Dog Training: The Better Path to a Well-Behaved Pup was published by Open Air Publishing. When she's not writing (or reading books about grammar), she teaches writing courses to college students and professionals who want to nail down the basics of communication. Outside of work, she hikes, throws dinner parties, plays with her three dogs and cat, and travels as much as possible.

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