Understanding Dog Play Behaviors

Toy selection is simplified when you understand your dog's play behavior.

To determine the kind of toys your dog will most enjoy and benefit from, first consider his personality and play behavior. Your dog will most likely fall into one of three categories, explained below. Knowing and understanding which category he falls into will optimize your playtime together and help you select toys that he will enjoy on his own.
Player types
Study your dog’s behavior to determine what type of player he may be:

  • Low-Key Player: If your dog is low-key, then he likely plays with any toy for about five minutes and then goes to sleep. Squeaky toys or stuffed animals work well for this type of dog because their low levels of durability are a good match with your dog’s low level of destruction. These toys may even become companions for your low-key dog.
  • Medium Player: This type of dog can get rambunctious while playing, but will rest after an hour or so. Rope toys, balls, nylon chewing toys and rawhides are good for outdoor play and exercise. After burning off your dog’s extra energy, he may be calmed for the rest of the day. It is important to play with these dogs daily so they don’t become anxious or bored.
  • High-Maintenance Player: This dog needs more than one hour a day of activity. He may need both rope toys and chew toys to keep him occupied. The rope toys and balls can be used for outdoor play and the rawhide chews can keep him busy while you are away.
Chewing behaviors

Chewing is another natural tendency your dog may have. Certain dog breeds are more likely to chew to relax and be happy. Research your dog’s breed to see if that behavior is inherent in their nature. High energy dogs, who enjoy chewing or gnawing constantly, should have thick, tough and sturdy toys that will keep them from shredding your valuables.

With the multitude of toys on the market, you may still be unsure about the best choice for your dog. In this case, consult a trainer or your veterinarian to better understand which toys your dog would like or how to handle his behavior.