Puppies have no off-button, and a favorite puppy toy can be the perfect way to channel their energy. A variety of puppy toys are available and different puppies may prefer specific toys based on activity level, how puppies play, and a dog's breed.
Popular Puppy Toys
The youngest pups enjoy soft, stuffed, or fuzzy toys. Your pet won’t care about the color and will be more interested in the texture and any sounds it makes. Squeakers and bells are big hits with youngsters.
Balls are sized tiny to huge, soft to hard rubber. They can get your pup to chase, leap, and fetch, and are great for interactive play. For water-loving breeds, some of these toys float and can work great in wading pools or other safe puppy play areas. Ten- or even twenty-five-inch balls provide great solo-play fun as well and can be more difficult for dogs to grab, chew, or eat.
During teething—when baby teeth erupt and later as adult teeth come in—puppies enjoy chewing opportunities. Puzzle toys that contain food and treats keep puppies busy for brain exercise. Rawhide chews, rubber bones and more keep puppy teeth on legal targets instead of gnawing your new sneakers.
A number of "tug" toys are also available. Just be careful that you are in control and always start and end the game. Pulling too hard can injure tender new teeth, so take care.
Homemade Puppy Toys
Toys don't need to be expensive to be successful. A tennis ball or old sock tied in a knot spells lots of puppy fun.
Empty paper bags are a hit with some puppies, or simply wad up a piece of paper and toss around for the baby to grab, chase, and “kill” with ferocious head shakes.
Take a cue from cat toys and make a fishing-pole lure toy. These are especially popular with terriers, but many pups enjoy stalking and pouncing. The commercial versions for dogs are called flirt poles. You can make one from a longe whip found at horse tack shops by tying a stuffed toy or rag to the end and dragging it along the ground.
You can do the same simply using a long string with a rag tied on the end. Play keep-away with the toy, “flirting” it just out of reach so he chases. Don’t let him catch it and play tug or he’ll destroy it. The idea is to wear him out with chase exercise while you don’t have to race around after him!
Be sure to supervise toy play. Many pups think the best game of all is to disembowel squeakers or bells, and if swallowed, these can cause dangerous blockages. Ears, eyes, noses, and tails of stuffed toys commonly get targeted, chewed off and swallowed. Supervise your puppy with all toys until you know what he can and cannot do with them. Even so-called indestructible dog toys may not be safe for some determined breeds.