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Why Are Dog Toys and Play Important for Dogs? 8 Vital Reasons

Rachel Giordano

By Rachel Giordano

bernese mountain dog playing with a toy outdoor

Most dogs will jump at the chance to play with toys, especially squeaky toys or toys they can tug on or safely chew for entertainment. But did you know that dog toys play a significant role in your dog’s overall well-being? The reason why dog toys are important is that they provide mental and physical stimulation, which are daily requirements for your dog to be healthy and happy.

In this post, we’ll list eight reasons why dog toys are important for your dog, so you are armed with the information needed when buying dog toys. Dog toys are generally not one-size-fits-all, but we hope that from reading this post, you’ll better understand what kind of toys will work for your particular doggie to suit his needs.

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The 8 Reasons Why Dog Toys and Play Are Important

1. Toys Make Dogs Tired

A bored dog is a destructive dog, and any canine owner knows this statement to be true. Think of toys as the equivalent of doing a crossword puzzle; it makes you tired after a while, and it will do the same for your pooch. Remember us mentioning physical and mental stimulation? Dogs need to keep their minds sharp, and dog toys are an excellent way to achieve this need. Treat dispensing chew toys are a perfect way to entice your pup to play.

Mental stimulation is just as important as physical—without it, your dog will be bored and possibly destructive.

puppy pugalier mixed breed dog playing with toy in the backyard
Image Credit: ENeems, Shutterstock

2. Corrects Behavioral Issues

Most dogs have an abundance of energy, and when they have no outlet for that energy, things can go south pretty quickly. Destructive behavior can lead to unwanted behaviors like chewing on furniture or ruining your favorite pair of flip-flops, but if you provide dog toys, your dog can chew away without getting into trouble.

Some bored dogs tend to get even more bored while you’re at work, but if your dog has plenty of safe toys to play with, any destructive behavior will diminish and generally goes away entirely.

3. Helps With Dental Hygiene

Implementing a dental hygiene regimen is vital in keeping your dog’s dental health in tip-top shape. Some dogs do better with having their teeth brushed than others, and if you have a dog that despises having its teeth brushed and fights you every step of the way, dog toys can help significantly. Safe chew toys, such as nylon or rubber chew toys and rubber balls, can help reduce tartar and plaque buildup. Plaque and tartar buildup can cause tooth loss, gingivitis, oral pain, and even damage vital organs when plaque enters the bloodstream, which in turn, can spread to the heart, kidneys, and liver.

english goldendoodle puppy dog chewing on a toy
Image Credit: DBjorgo, Shutterstock

4. Provides Companionship

Dogs can get lonely when left for long periods, and when you work away from home for long hours per day, your dog will most definitely get lonely while you’re gone. Dog toys can become a comfort to your dog, much in the same way as a favorite doll provides comfort to a child. Have you ever seen your dog sleeping with his favorite stuffed toy? If so, the toy is special to your dog and provides needed companionship when you cannot.

5. Keeps Them in Shape

Throwing a Frisbee in the backyard or engaging in a game of fetch will help keep your dog in shape physically. Dogs need a certain amount of daily activity to stay in shape, and without it, they can become obese and even depressed.

Some dogs require more hours of exercise per day depending on the dog’s size and breed. For example, if you have a brachycephalic breed, such as a Boston Terrier, Bulldog, or Boxer, excessive exercise can lead to breathing issues.

puppy pug in playpen chewing toy crate
Image Credit: Candice Pun, Shutterstock

6. Prevents Anxiety

When dogs are anxious, especially those suffering separation anxiety, destructive behavior typically ensues. Dogs with anxiety need an outlet, and dog toys are an excellent way to provide enrichment and activity to keep anxiety at bay.

An exceptional way to prevent anxiety is to provide the classic Kong or a similar toy that requires your dog to work on getting a treat from the inside—this can occupy the mind for quite a while. You’ll want a durable and safe toy for this purpose, and Kongs are among the best.

7. Creates a Bond Between You and Your Dog

There’s nothing like forming a strong bond with your doggie, and engaging in play is the best way to do so. Most dogs live to play, and when you participate, it only creates a strong bond between the two of you and is fun for you both. Fetch or tug-of-war are terrific games to try, as well as slinging a Frisbee in the yard for your dog to catch.

This type of bond provides exercise for both you and your dog, and if you establish a routine with it, such as playing a bit before work and after, your dog will become accustomed to the activity and will look forward to it each day.

dalmatian dog and her owner playing outdoor
Image Credit: Stenko Vlad, Shutterstock

8. May Prevent Dementia

Last but not least, dog toys can help with doggie dementia. Just like in humans, senior dogs can develop the condition as they age. Providing plenty of interactive dog toys allows for increased memory and learning skills and keeps anxiety to a minimum for dogs with dementia.

Interactive toys help stimulate the brain, and scientific studies show that “brain teasers” preserve cognitive decline in senior dogs. However, ensure you provide interactive toys that are not too challenging according to your dog’s cognitive decline level, as this can cause more stress. When in doubt, check with your veterinarian on which toys are suitable.

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How to Pick the Best and Safest Dog Toy

Safety is the number one priority when selecting toys for your dog. Dogs come in many sizes, and it’s important to pick toys that are suitable for your dog’s size and activity level.

Throw toys away that have broken pieces or strings, ribbons, tags, or other objects that are not “dog-proof.”

No toy is truly indestructible, and it’s wise to supervise your dog while he’s playing with a toy, especially those with some sort of stuffing or squeakers that can be ingested and cause obstructions. Kongs are tough and durable and are hard for a dog to destroy unless you have a heavy chewer. Kongs are the safer option for providing entertainment when you’re not home to supervise.

miniature schnauzer playing tug with dog toy
Image Credit: Natalia Bostan, Shutterstock

Avoid Rawhides

Rawhides are generally unsafe for your dog, and we recommend avoiding them for safety. Rawhides are a potential choking hazard, and some are hard for your dog to digest and may cause an intestinal blockage, which can be life-threatening. Sometimes, pieces can even get stuck in the esophagus, and there may be times when surgery is needed to remove large pieces your dog attempted to swallow.

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Dog toys are a vital part of any dog’s life and are necessary for keeping your dog healthy and happy. They provide mental and physical stimulation, which is vital to your dog’s health. If you have a dog that particularly loves toys, a doggie toy subscription box may just be the ticket. These boxes are delivered right to your door and can be customized according to the type of toys and treats you want inside the box each time.

We hope this article gives you insight into the correct type of toys to buy for your particular doggie to keep him healthy and happy for years to come.

Featured Image Credit: Kristesoro, Shutterstock

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