Dog Training Toys
While toys are often used to keep your dog busy, they serve a very important use in training. Toys are used to increase your emotional state and give them a physical outlet after training sessions. They can also serve as a safe place for your dogs natural instinct to chew and bite. Toys offer a safe and relatively inexpensive outlet for these behaviors (toys are cheaper than your furniture).
When using toys for training I prefer to always use two of the same toy. See the section on Play Training on how to use the two toy game in training.
Your dog will have a preference in the types of toys they like to play with. So much like treats, you will need to experiment with different toys to find the most effective toy. Your dog can tell you which is their favorite, simply by presenting two toys to your dog and let them chose the one they like better. Try to rate the different toys as to the least favorite to the most favorite. I always save the most favorite toy for training session only and put these toys away after our session. This will keep your dog excitement for these toys and prevent them from getting bored with them.
Balls are a favorite toy of many dogs. Balls come in many different sizes and types from soft squeaky balls, hard rubber balls, firm furry balls to large indestructible balls. While tennis balls are many dogs favorite, try to avoid them since the glue used to keep the furry part on the rubber will break done your dogs teeth enamel. Furry tennis style balls sold in pet shops tend to use a different glue and are much better.
These are similar to balls except that they are not completely round. When they hit the ground they can bounce in any direction. They also have a hollow inside that was originally used in scent training to hold the scented object. They are now used to hold food or treats to keep your dog busy for a longer period of time. I use the kong with a leash or a short rope attached so I can make it more active during our play sessions.
These are the types of toys that include fabric around stuffing and often include a squeaky object in them. These are very popular for training because they are comfortable in your dogs mouth and allot of dogs love to make them squeak and even like to remove the squeak from them entirely.
These toys are very nice to use because they tend not to travel for long distances. It is much easier to control because when they hit the ground they tend to take a few bounces and stop, unlike a ball which keeps rolling. Stick toys include rubber items, rope toys, burlap rolls, wooden sticks and any toy that is elongated similar to a stick.
These include different shapes of flying discs from circular to triangular. They fly through the air and tend to stay airborne longer. They tend to travel longer distances and will tire your dog out faster. There are allot of disc competitors out there and they can be a great activity for you and your dog.
Tugging toys are used to play tug of war type games with your dog. Tugging toys include rope toys, rags or towels, burlap rolls, sticks, padded sleeves and many other types of objects. Tugging games offer allot of competition between you and your dog. While allot of dogs really enjoy these activities, inexperienced handlers should be aware that these games tend to escalate aggressive behaviors. And calming exercises should always be done after such sessions.