Whether your puppy was a Christmas surprise or the long-planned culmination of the adoption process, by now you’re probably feeling that your family is one cold nose closer to being complete.
Your arm is also tired from throwing tennis balls all day. And from playing tug-of-war. And did you just space out for a second? Take a look over there: puppy is chewing your leather shoes to ribbons.
Puppies need lots of attention and stimulation to keep up with their developing minds and extreme curiosity. They require a degree of mental excitement similar to the amount of physical playtime they need to be tired by the end of the day.
But you? You’re already worn out.
That’s one of the great things about getting your puppy interactive toys. With an interactive toy, your puppy can entertain themself while you press pause and recover from all the love they demand. You’ll want to supervise play, of course, especially at first. But interactive puppy toys offer you some desperately needed breathing room.
An interactive puppy toy doesn’t require you to do much beyond set the toy up. No regular tossing or tussling, in other words. These sorts of toys are designed to keep puppies entertained for long periods of time; all you have to do is load them or turn them on, whatever they require.
These toys make sounds, flash lights, dispense treats, or move semi-autonomously. Some are puzzles; others respond to particular puppy behaviors. Generally speaking, they keep puppies stimulated in a variety of different ways without requiring constant, repetitive effort on your part.
One major benefit of interactive toys for puppies is that you don’t have to do anything more than set the things up.
This is great if you have to leave a dog at home while you go to work. Interactive puppy toys that don’t require any monitoring from you help keep your little pal distracted and from missing you too terribly. Don’t do this with a new toy, however. Make sure your puppy is familiar with it before you leave them alone with it.
It’s a truth universally acknowledged: puppies want to play all the time. But if you have anything else going on in life, such as work or a marriage or children, you just won’t be able to play as much as a puppy wants you to. But if interactive puppy toys can entertain pooches while you’re out, cooking, or helping with homework, they can get the job done when you’re just over it for the day.
And those problematic behaviors that guests have to be shielded from? Interactive puppy toys help young dogs work through barking and nipping: they allow them to channel those otherwise inappropriate behaviors into controlled play situations. You can then teach them to restrict those behaviors to just those situations.
So you’re sold on interactive puppy toys—great! But there are all kinds of such toys. Let’s go over how to choose the best one for your best friend. Don’t forget to check out our new puppy checklist to be sure your new pup is getting everything else they need right from the start).
Puppies have a lot of personality, so you’ll likely be able to get an idea of who your new buddy is pretty easily. And that’s good since you’ll want to consider your puppy’s temperament when choosing an interactive toy.
Is your puppy energetic, curious, fearless, and undaunted by new situations and opportunities? Then noisy, flashy, highly responsive toys are likely to be a good option.
Are they more cautious and unsure how to approach unfamiliar things? In that case, you’ll want to go for a less lively toy. Something that doesn’t move or make too much noise. Puzzles may be your best solution here.
Once you’ve made your choice, ensure that it’s safe for your particular pup.
Large-breed puppiesor excessive chewers may tear up certain toys too easily. This means there’s a risk of your pup getting small objects caught in their throat. If this sounds like your little buddy, maybe opt out of plush or plastic toys and go for something made of dense rubber or felt. Always supervise your pup when introducing a new toy and remember no toy is truly indestructible.
You don’t want to break the bank buying a new interactive toy each week. So make sure what you purchase is made of material that’s durable enough to last more than the afternoon but not so hard that it hurts your puppy’s tiny teeth.
Some toys, such as laser pointers or revolving lights are extremely durable—so long as you don’t drop them. Your puppy won’t actually be biting any sort of mechanism, so they can’t really destroy them.
Remember, all interactive dog toys for puppies should be used under close supervision at first, and removed if broken.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the best interactive puppy toys.
A Nylabone Puppy Chew is great for teething puppies. They’re made of durable materials and come in a variety of colors. Some even exude different flavors to really grab your puppy’s interest. Ridged varieties help clean your puppy’s teeth. All teach good chewing habits of: chew this, not me.
The legendary Kong Puppy Toy is another great, tough-built option for chewers. It offers the benefits of the Nylabone and then some. The Kong bounces, meaning you can strike up a game of fetch with dental benefits. Or you can sneak treats inside, and . your puppy must position the Kong properly to get them out.
When on the hunt for the perfect interactive chew toy, keep in mind that if you tap it on your knee and it hurts, it's too hard to give your dog.
The motion-activated Hyper Pet Doggie Tail wiggles, squeaks, barks, and really gets the attention of a puppy with an intense pursuit instinct. It imitates a small, huntable animal—which may not be the best idea if your puppy shares a home with small animals. Plus, a destructive dog might munch this up in a hurry. If that sounds like your puppy, the Starmark Treat Dispensing Ball may be an ideal alternative because it’s made of tough rubber. Simply fill it with treats, give it a toss, and watch your pup go at it!
If your pup is more Einstein than canine, you’ll love how interactive toy powerhouse Outward Hound’s Puppy Tornado forces your pup to swivel multiple compartments to get at treats. It’s a three-tiered stack of pure brain-boosting fun.
Similarly, the Trixie Mad Scientist Turn Around Interactive Dog Toy comes complete with beakers you can fill with treats, then watch as your puppy figures out how to manipulate moving parts in order to dislodge the treats.
There’s some trial and error involved in finding the ideal interactive puppy toy. Evaluate options based on your pup’s temperament, but be ready for your little buddy’s preferences to surprise you. Once you’ve got the right fit, go nuts—interactive puppy toys have never been more readily available, and new ones come out all the time.
Still have questions about the right toy for your puppy? Book a virtual appointment with a veterinary professional through Vetster to identify the most appropriate type of toy for your dog’s specific breed, age, and living conditions. The vet you connect with will be able to see your puppy in their natural habitat, playing as they naturally play, and will be able to make more accurate recommendations.
No one ever said that raising a puppy would be easy, but hopefully this gives you an idea of where to start, and where to turn when you need an expert opinion.
Exercise is just as important for dogs as it is for their owners. Unfortunately, during the summer, extreme heat waves can make it dangerous to go on daily midday walks. So, how are you supposed to make sure your dog is getting enough activity during the dog days of summer?
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