There are many types of toys made for puppies. I tend to choose interactive toys that engage a puppy's mind. I like toys that I can put their food/treats into and will keep their interest but without being totally impossible for them to get the food. As they get better at using their paws, their mouths, and their neck muscles, I may put the food in a bit differently, or use a different type of food that may take them a bit longer to get out. I may refrigerate, I may freeze, I may stuff loosely, I may stuff tightly, it all depends on the dog. Melissa seemed to give up easily when I first introduced her to interactive toys, so we are slowly moving our way through the easiest to the more challenging. Toys that are durable and offer some good chewing fun are also on my list. Some may not be 'toys' in the true sense; after many hours of chewing they are safely ingested. I still consider them 'toys' because they entertain my puppy, she interacts with them and they give her something appropriate to chew on which is ever so important while she is teething.
Here are a few of Melissa's favorites:
The Everlasting Treat Ball is our newest toy. It is less then two weeks old, and so far is passing the grade. It is made of some sort of squishy rubber that Melissa loves to gnaw on. Treats/dry food can be put into the bottom, and it is capped with a very hard treat that Melissa has yet to make a dent in. The other evening my older dog had a good chew on the Treat Ball, not a tooth mark on the rubber or in the hard treat. This toy so far gets an A+. Melissa is still figuring out how to get the last of the treats out of the bottom, it takes her a bit longer, it keeps her busy, her mind is active. Best of all I know what my puppy is up to...and it's not chewing the furniture!
The Busy Dog Ball: place dry food in either of the two holes. Dogs can see the food, they roll the ball, the food comes out. Great way to feed your puppy while you have your meal. Food bowls? No need for them. Melissa engages her mind during mealtimes.
The Kong company has come out with some new shapes in the last few years. The red dog shaped bone is a new favorite of mine. It is softer then the original Kong and can be stuffed on each end. Melissa was able to work on this one the first day, while it took her a few days to learn how to use her paw to hold the original Kong.
For the traditional pyramid type Kong, I find the black ones to be much harder then the red ones. They can be placed in the dishwasher and are very durable. My oldest Kong is over 16 years old, but to be honest in the last month it is starting to show some wear. After several dogs, a gazillion washings, it might be ready to retire.
The Twist and Treat made by Premier. Made of two separate pieces that screw together. There are tiny holes where peanut butter or cream cheese can be smeared to engage your dog for a longer time, along with putting food inside the cavity. At first I loosely screwed the two ends together so the food would fall out easily for Melissa. Now that she has the hang of it I am able to screw it a bit tighter. We want our pups and dogs to work for their food/treats, we want them to deal with a tiny bit of frustration, but we don't want them to give up totally. Make sure they are successful when first trying these toys, then increase the challenge.
The TUX, made of zogoflex material. I use wet food inside the cavity which isn't very deep. This toy may be a good one to try for dogs who give up easily on some of the other interactive toys. Melissa likes chewing on the knobs, carrying it around, dropping it and watching it land. Keeps her entertained!
The Kibble Nibble ball is another one made by Premier. Melissa has just graduated to this ball, after conquering the use of the Busy Dog ball. This one is edged in rubber so makes it a bit quieter. It is a bit more difficult for the dry food to fall out occupying Melissa for a longer time. She sees the food, she hears it rattle, she moves it around, food falls out and she stays busy.
And two of my favorite chews that are safely digestible. Bully sticks and dried trachea. I obtain mine from Bravo Raw foods. Melissa has only chewed half a 12 inch trachea in the last 3 weeks. Her puppy teeth and gums are getting a good work-out. The bully stick fascinates her, but only after an adult dog chews on it for a bit and softens the edges.
And Melissa's favorite a real bone. A bit messy, so not always easily transportable. This is not an item I would bring into a hotel room while traveling with my dogs. Melissa is chewing on a bone right now as I type. I spread a blanket down for her, she is learning to lie quietly chewing her bone while I work at my desk. I give bones to Melissa in her crate, outside and on a blanket when I can supervise so she doesn't carry it around the house. When using the long bones, I take out the marrow which can cause digestive upset. The bone can be re-used and stuffed with peanut butter, a bit of their dry food mixed with cream cheese or canned. For the dogs who like a challenge, stuff with some softened food then freeze it before offering it to your dog!
My all time favorite is the Buster Cube. Melissa is not ready to try this one, maybe in a few weeks. Right now she is very visual. If she can't see it, she is not going to use her nose to keep searching. I am using those toys that entertain her, cause a bit of frustration but also keep her interest to keep trying.
I have obtained most of these toys through Clean Run, they are located in South Hadley Massachusetts, and also have a on-line store. Check your local shelter, they also carry many of these products.
What is your pup's favorite toy?