Loving pet owners often shower their dog with toys, ranging from soft, snuggly stuffed animals to chew toys, rubber balls and kibble-dispensing cubes. There are both pros and cons to providing your pup with a wealth of toys. Much like human children, the number and type of toys you give your dog should be based on his personality, preferences and behaviors.
Giving your dog a variety of toys to choose from can guard against boredom. Dogs can entertain themselves for hours with rubber bones, balls and chew toys, keeping them from being bored or anxious when you're away from home or otherwise occupied. For best results, keep your dog’s toys in one location, like a box by his bedding, so he knows where to look when it's time to play.
If you have a dog who is destructive by nature and has a tendency to chew on anything he can get in his mouth, providing him with too many toys can lead to confusion. It may be difficult for your dog to differentiate between what's yours and what's his, particularly if your household includes children who leave toys around that look like your dog’s toys.
Depending on your dog’s personality and behavior, he may enjoy babying a toy, like a stuffed animal -- so select a size that is too big to choke him but small enough for him to carry around. Make sure no plastic eyes or noses can come off and be swallowed. If your dog likes to hunt and pounce, offer toys like life-size bird- and rodent-shaped toys. Dogs who get bored easily often do well with rubber balls filled with food or treats that they can roll around for a long time to make snacks drop out occasionally to encourage and reward play.
Give your dog toys that are safe and appropriate. Stuffed toys should not have loose filling or beanbag pellets that your dog can choke on. Toys with squeakers can present a choking hazard if your dog bites through them and swallows the mechanisms inside. Provide chew toys like rawhides only under supervision, as they can present choking hazards, particularly when they get gnawed down to small pieces.
According to the Humane Society of the United States website, it's a good idea to rotate your dog's toys weekly so there's always something new to play with and hold the dog's attention. For example, if your pup has a dozen toys, keep three or four out for play at any given time. If your dog has a favorite, like a toy he snuggles or sleeps with, make it available all the time.