Toys provide your pup with both mental and physical stimulation, engaging Fido's attention and generally discouraging destructive behaviors. If Fido seems picky about the types of toys he'll play with, you'll need to do a little detective work to determine what he prefers. Once you know generally what types of toys he'll respond to, purchase a few different kinds to give him plenty of choices at playtime.
Study Fido's Behavior
To determine what toys to get for your seemingly picky pooch, study him carefully to see what types of activities he enjoys or engages in on a daily basis. If he likes chewing on everything in sight, then sturdy chew toys may appeal to him and his need to gnaw. Pups who are high energy and enjoy playing games with you will likely prefer interactive toys like flying discs, bouncing balls or those used to play tug-of-war. Dogs who enjoy snuggling with pillows or children's toys probably will prefer soft dog toys to cuddle with and carry around. Inquisitive pups may enjoy solving a puzzle toy.
Toys He Can Use
If you've gotten Fido some toys that he's ignored, making him appear "picky," the reality may be that they simply weren't appropriate for him. Small dogs need toys that they can handle and pick up in their mouths, while large dogs need big toys that they won't end up swallowing. Choose toys that are as big as your pup's potential prey, such as duck-sized for golden retrievers. You also want to choose toys that have a soft, chewable texture. Hard toys are not only less desirable and more uncomfortable for your pup to gnaw on, but can potentially damage his teeth.
Keeping Fido's Interest
Dogs need a variety of toys to stay interested in them. Purchase enough toys to rotate them every few days, keeping three toys available for your pup to play with. This keeps Fido from tiring of his new toys. To initially get your pooch interested in whatever you give him, try covering it in something delicious, such as peanut butter, cream cheese or a bit of canned dog food. This works best for chew toys, which you can wash off to keep them clean. Another option is to simply purchase a puzzle toy you can fill with tasty treats.
Purchase durable toys for your pup that will stand up to his use. Avoid soft fabric toys for dogs who enjoy chewing because they'll destroy them and possibly ingest the stuffing, leading to an intestinal blockage. Any toys you choose must match your dog's level of roughness when handling them. When giving your pup the toy you choose for him, don't simply leave it in front of him. Instead, make your dog work for the toy as a reward for performing a behavior on cue. This makes the toy more valuable to your pup and keeps his interest in it, especially because getting the toy involves pleasant interaction with you.
- The Bark: Choosing Safe Dog Toys
- Hill's Pet Nutrition: Choosing Dog Toys
- Dogster: The Best Types of Toys for Your Dog
- Partnership for Animal Welfare: Toys: Choosing the Right Toys, Using Toys for Physical and Mental Stimulation
- The Humane Society of the United States: Dog Training: Nothing in Life is Free
- Hemera Technologies/AbleStock.com/Getty Images