How to Choose the Right Dog Toys by Age
Photo: Dídac Balanzó

All dogs, regardless of their age, need toys. They are great interactive tools that can help your pets grow and learn throughout their formative puppy years. Dog toys will take them right through to adulthood where they will be kept entertained, active and stimulated.

Choosing the right canine toys for your dog can be challenging as they all have their own needs, and these needs change throughout the various stages of their lives. Dog toys are designed to keep your pet active and stimulated, and are specifically geared for different stages of development. Toys provide comfort, they help fight boredom and can be used as a training tool.

Toys for puppies of 7 to 12 Weeks

How to Choose the Right Dog Toys by Age
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Your brand new puppy is so curious and excited by everything. This is a great and exciting time to introduce him to a whole variety of different learning and developmentally challenging puzzle toys to help his mind grown. This will teach him the skills he will need as an adult to survive.

Squeaky toys will enthrall him and he will need a few soft plush toys to snuggle with at night as he grows accustomed to being separated from his mother and siblings. He will love those puppy toys that you can stuff with anything you wish – other toys, dog treats or food – which will promote curiosity, and he will have to learn how to get them out.

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Don’t give your young dog all his toys at once, rotate them and switch them up every day so he has constant variety. This will keep your puppy interested and comfortable with change and make it easy for him to adapt to situations. He still has his baby teeth so his toys will be made from a softer rubber making them easier to “kill.”

Toys for puppies of 3 to 9 Months

How to Choose the Right Dog Toys by Age
Photo: Chris Turner

At this stage of your puppy’s life he has started teething and will want to chew everything. To avoid running the risk of losing your favorite pair of shoes or not so favorite couch cushion that you received as a gift from a relative to a puppy, invest in some strong chew toys for your growing pooch. He will love interactive toys more so than ever, and this will become an important tool in puppy socialization and your playtime, too.

There's a high chance that your Fido will love Frisbee and chasing balls. His strength is continuously increasing at this stage, as is his stamina and it will take a lot to tire him out. You will probably be replacing a lot of his chew toys quite frequently which is a good thing: you don’t want the rubber to be too hard and hurt his teeth.

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Dog toys are a great training tool and can be used as a reward or encouragement for when your puppy masters a new skill or demonstrates positive behavior. Around the time he's 3 to 9 months old is an optimum time to train your puppy in this early developmental stage. He is not too young that he would not be able to understand your commands, and is quick and eager to learn.

Puppy toys will work as an excellent reward when training your pooch. Whether you are training your puppy to familiarize himself with other training tools like pet brushes or dog collars or harnesses; or teaching him the basic commands of sit, stay and lie down, rewarding him with a brand new squeaky toy will have your canine participating in no time.

Toys for adult dogs of 9 Months to 1 Year

How to Choose the Right Dog Toys by Age
Photo: Paul Blake

Your fully grown dog will love being incredibly active now and will have what appears to be limitless energy. He will run like a puppy possessed and need lots of interactive dog toys to keep him stimulated. He will want to show off his strength too, so he will most likely love rope pulls and showing you how fast he can run and catch the balls you throw for him.

At this stage, your dog's teeth will be fully formed so he may cut down on the chewing, but dogs never really lose that desire. You will be replacing his chew toys with bones and pigs ear as treats, but he will still love his rubber toys to gnaw on, and it's cheaper for you as well.

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For dogs, chewing promotes healthy saliva production, which keeps their teeth and gums healthy. Keep your Fido's hunting skills sharp by purchasing toys you can hide treats in. He will have to figure out how to get the treats out and that will keep him entertained for hours (hopefully).

Toys for senior dogs of 7 Years and Up

How to Choose the Right Dog Toys by Age
Photo: Grant Frederiksen

Even though your dog is now in his senior years, it is still vitally important to keep him active, healthy and stimulated. He may not have as much energy as he used to, but he is still inquisitive and will love his chew toys.

There's an abidance of dog toys for senior dogs available online on Amazon or from other vendors, and are made from a softer rubber, much like the chew toys designed for puppies, so that his older teeth won’t be damaged but are still able to keep themselves clean and free from gum disease.

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Your dog will still love to fetch, so make sure you have plenty of balls and rubber sticks for him to chase. While his body is ageing and his responses may be slowing down a little, his mind is still sharp and his natural instincts to hunt and kill and think still need to be nurtured.

Providing your pooch with great opportunities to exercise his body and mind by supplying him with senior dog toys that encourage his instincts will ensure that the later stages of his life are full and joyful. Interactive dog toys, ones that he can play with you will be beneficial, as he loves spending time with his human parents. Also balls or rubber toys that you can put food into, which he then has to discover how to get out will keep his mind active and encourage him to use his brain.