Dog Toys – the 4 Types and How to Use Them Right

Walking down the toy aisle of your local
pet supply store can be overwhelming; there are hundreds of toys to choose
from. Most people just get whatever looks interesting or at least whatever their dog picks up
and slobbers. On today I’m going to show you the four types of toys you should
have and how best to use them. Hey everybody, Ian here with Simpawtico Dog
Training. hey before we get to the toy stuff,
please make sure you click that “subscribe” button so you never miss any
videos, and don’t forget to check the description for notes links and
resources about the stuff we talked about. Now, let’s get to it! So, in all things there’s a strategy if
you dig a little deeper. Toys are no different. You can use your
toys to develop your relationship, to teach important skills and behaviors and
generally make life a lot more fun. To start, understand that dog toys break
down into four main categories. They’re chew toys, dental toys, interactive toys and
plush toys. The nature’s of these toys is fairly
self-explanatory. Info on how to use these in the smartest ways, however, is
not so easily come by. Worry not friends, you’re in good hands. Let’s go over these one at a time: Perhaps the most obvious and ubiquitous
category is chew toys. These are designed to be chewed, mangled,
punctured, gnawed on, and beat up on a regular basis. Consequently they are generally made of
tough rubber or silicone or even antler, and come in tons of shapes and sizes. Dental toys are also a pretty obvious
category. An augmented chew toy of sorts, dental toys are designed to scour teeth,
massage gums and promote blood flow. These can be supplemented with doggy
toothpaste if necessary, although most of them are designed to
work alone. These have ridges, knobs, fins, and scales on them to work on the dog’s
mouth while he or she chews. Some dental toys are in fact fully consumable. With
interactive toys we’re now getting into much broader
territory. Interactive toys are ones like tug toys, balls, frisbees, retrieval
dummies, and variations thereof. Interactive toys also include puzzles
and games. As the name says these are things that your dog interacts with on a
higher level than just laying down and chewing. Interactive toys are great
because not only do they provide mental stimulation, which is just as important
as physical stimulation, but they also offer endless training
opportunities. Every moment with one can be a teachable moment. That’s huge guys, don’t waste it. Finally
we get to plush toys. These are primarily stuffed animals and
stuffed shapes, although it also includes the stuffingless “flatties.” Generally these kinds of toys look like little animals or cute
little characters. Like the others, they come in an endless array of shapes and
sizes for all kinds of dogs. Okay, great. Now we know the
classifications, so what the heck do we do with them? Well
what ends up happening in most households is that owners by a whole
bunch of toys from all four categories and then just go “Here you go, Rover!” All of
the toys are available all the time with little to no guidance or supervision. What a waste of an opportunity. Come on!
We can do a lot better than that! Here’s how it works with the categories:
chew toys are available all the time. You should have chew toy trained your dog
right from the beginning, either as a puppy or as a newly adopted dog. If you have not spent time chew toy
training your dog, start now. Chewing releases endorphins
that calm your dog down and produce feelings of contentment. A chew toy trained
dog is comfortable being alone and tends to stay out of trouble when they’re
unsupervised. Puppies and/or new dogs should initially be fed exclusively via
hand feeding or chew toys like a Kong or a Squirrel Dude. Forget all the fancy
recipes you find online and for sure don’t buy any of that cheese whiz looking
crap made to fill chew toys. Instead use their normal food. Measure it out, moisten it, and freeze it.
Now its on demand and convenient. Leave them with food when you leave the house. Use food-filled chew toys when you must
attend other things. Tie food-filled chew toys to the
insides of crates to facilitate crate training. Tie them to trees in the yard during
summer time for outdoor fun. Since you’re using their normal food, you’re keeping their nutrition balanced.
You’re not glutting them with treats, which should ideally only be about ten percent of their daily
caloric intake. You’re also empowering their food to be
a training reward all by itself. You can use dog food to train your dog
and save the treats for jackpots. Ultimately a food-filled chew toy will
create train a dog ultra fast. This makes potty training and
overall management a breeze. It also trains the dog to enjoy time
alone, circumventing the destructive behaviors
associated with boredom or isolation distress, which is commonly mistaken for
separation anxiety. Heck, even true separation anxiety can be
mitigated to some extent with strategic chew toy training. Regular chew toys also
make great coping methods for high stress or arousal; train your dog to
funnel excitement and energy into a chew toy. Now, dental toys can be left out to for
the most part. The exception to that would be if you plan to use a toothpaste
with it in which case they’re brought out at regular intervals to temporarily
replace a regular chew toy. These should be supervised when
toothpaste is involved and of course cleaned afterwards. Also dental toys
should be checked after each use. If any of the massaging studs or fins
start to come off, the toy should be retired. All chew toys for that matter
should be regularly inspected and retired when they get too small or too
mangled. Interactive toys are only brought out when a play session is
initiated by you. You keep them put away and you decide
what game to play and when. Your dog may have favorites, and that’s great, but he
shouldn’t have free access to the interactive toys. By controlling access you can leverage
the toy and the activity as training rewards. Training doesn’t always have to be done
with treats. In fact, toys are a gateway to phasing
out treats all together. You then also use the games and
activities to teach behaviours to your dog. For example, tug is an awesome game. Look if a well-meaning neighbor or pet
store trainer tells you to never play tug with your dog because it’s dangerous, please think them and walk away. That is
complete rubbish. As with all games with your dog, tug is a
great opportunity for learning and bonding. You just have to start out by teaching
the rules. Playing tug with a puppy is one of those activities that helps to
develop a soft mouth. It goes along with the bite inhibition
training that we do in the off-leash puppy classes, and every dog should know Take It and Drop It, two important and
very basic commands. Incidentally interactive toys are a
fantastic way to do just that. Dog toys without squeakers are the best.
Most dogs really go bonkers with squeakers, but a squeaker can trigger
higher levels of arousal and encourage them to dissect the toy to get it, which
is a bad habit. We don’t need our dogs to find that
activity fun and start dissecting the mail and your purse, or to go after other
things that squeak like the neighbor’s chihuahua, a kitten or your guinea pig. Finally plush toys. These are the most
misunderstood and misused category of them all. Many owners buy these for their dogs and
allow them to destroy them. Guys, this is wrong. Not only are you
missing out on a tremendous learning opportunity, but you’re also training
your dog to tear apart other things they find, like slippers and wallets. A dog
should never destroy one of these toys. In fact, a $1.99 plush toy
should ostensibly last indefinitely. Your chew toys and interactive toys
should get all the wear and tear; the plush toys are for teaching. A really
good play and learning session I’ve used in the past uses an interactive toy and a plush
toy, and it goes like this: The tug toy comes out first. The dog
can’t have it until we say “Take it.” And we play tug for a minute or so. This is a
great time to teach game manners and rules like, “Don’t ever accidentally get
me with your teeth.” Now we use “drop it.” Teach it, reinstruct it, reinforce it. The tug toy
goes away and the plush toy comes out. Here’s where things get interesting. we
squeak it and treat it like a baby in our hands. We treat it like it’s alive. We
want softness and kindness toward it. Any grab, bite or tug gets a “Hey! What have
you done?! You’ve hurt Mr. Toy!” See, this is a
violation of the take it rule. That is to say, the dog can’t take it in her mouth
unless and until we okay it. It also shows you the difference between
what you think the boundaries are and put your dog thinks they are. Very often
there’s a disconnect there. This is where we step up, and bridge that
gap. If they grabbed for it or if their drop it is sloppy, then we have a five-second instructive
time out in a Down stay. Now the plush toy goes away and we
repeat the cycle a few times. So, the interactive toy comes out again and we
use tug as a reward for being nice to the plush toy. Play this game between
five and ten minutes. When you’re all done say, “All done, thank you!” and put the toys away. Remember, access is restricted to these toys to
only times when games are being played with you. Don’t forget to praise
enthusiastically for every good thing. Reinstruct for slow responses. Repeat
exercises and have high expectations. Treats are not necessary here because
the rewards are intrinsic–they’re built into the activity. And for that to work this it’s got to be fun, so relax and
make learning part of your fun. It will pay off huge down the road. I mean look, imagine if you had other
small animals in the house, a guinea pig or a bearded dragon, or imagine if you
had a new baby or one came to visit or maybe your cat has kittens or maybe you
messed up your knee and you just need rover to take it easy around you for
the next few weeks. That’s what these activities are for.
Understanding how best to capitalize on these toys and their categories can help
you develop a lot of healthy dog behavior and build a rock solid bond. So there you go, fellow dog lovers. Thank you for watching, don’t forget to
subscribe to my channel, thumbs up this video, and connect with me in the
comments about how you use toys in your home. Check the description for notes and
resources, and until next time keep learning, keep practicing and i’ll
see you soon. Cheers!

12 thoughts on “Dog Toys – the 4 Types and How to Use Them Right

  • I just found this gentleman and I love love his training techniques. I have 4 dogs 10 year old 5 year and just added 2 Great Dane puppies that are 16 weeks as of yesterday. By watching these videos I am doing everything wrong. My biggest issues is trying to train 2 at a time. They feed off each other and jump around and trying to correct them at the same time is not going well. I need suggestions! Please help.

  • Ive watched a lot of dog videos and your production is great along with your lessons ive had a kong and never thought about using it to feed my dog such a great idea thank you

  • I have a question my six month old rescue dog doesn’t enjoy soft toys he likes chew toys and interactive toys he plays catch with a tennis ball by himself it is one of the things that curb his isolation distress when I go into a room and he can’t see me am I using toys the wrong way by allowing him to do things that allow him to feel comfortable? I’m sorry if it seems like I’m being confrontational this is my first dog and I want to be sure I’m training him properly

  • I just found your channel and really like your approach. I have a new puppy and have a question about introducing her to a friends new puppy. They are 13 weeks and p weeks of age. They have met a few rimes but seem to p,lay too rough and bite until one yelps. Is this okay? How should we handle this rough play? Neither dog tries to dominate but it’s important they learn to get along. Thanks, your help is appreciated!

  • Our dog loves to destroy his plushies.. he likes to pull our the stuffing. Ne never eats it though. I don't see the problem of this habit though.. He understands perfectly well what he is 'allowed' to destroy and what not. He never chews on anything that we didn't gave to him and he even stays away from children's plushies (also when they try to directly give it to him: once a little girl bought a plushie for him to destroy on our holiday because she liked him so much and he didn't take it untill we started playing with him and his new toy. The girl was a bit disappointed haha).

  • Hey Ian – my gf and I just became the parents of a Shiba Inu puppy! We have read about using some toys as ‘kill’ toys and have been letting her go to town on her stuffed animals. We use interactive toys as described in your tutorial but don’t get between her and her fuzzy friends as much (in that they’re hers). We would like to adapt your method – do you recommend any toys in place of ‘kill’ toys? Do we have to get new ones since she’s used to being aggressive with her own?

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