The Role of Toys in Your Dog’s Life

One of the first things people do when they adopt a dog is to buy them a toy, but why do we feel dogs need dog toys?

Dog toys are for more than play. Humans give toys to their dogs for clean teeth, mental enrichment, and to build a connection. But dogs have different uses for their toys like alleviating boredom boredom, relieving gum pain, and even safeguarding.

Every breed is different, but there are some universal observations and even studies telling us more about what our dogs could be thinking when they play with a new toy.

At Camp Canine’s doggie day camp, we have the energy to keep your dog happy.

The role of play and dog toys

We give toys like tennis balls to our dogs to play with so they can have fun, but what about toys humans have built to improve their physical, mental, and emotional health?

When we talk about the role of dog toys, it’s good to separate toys that dogs love and toys that dog owners find useful.

Dog’s favorite toys

If you’ve had many different dogs, I’m sure you have noticed they all play with toys differently.

Some dogs love to fetch a tennis ball while others love to chew a toy filled with peanut butter. Some will light up as soon as you bring out their favorite plush toy, but another may run around with a tug-of-war rope.

It’s hard to predict what toys your dogs will love, but as you try more toys, you’ll begin to learn which ones give them a rush, which give comfort, and which you should have left at the store.

Human-made toys

We as humans love to create tools to solve problems.

We have made dog toys that are good for dogs’ teeth, puzzle toys to test their brain power, and remote-controlled toys for a battery-powered chase. These toys are valuable to dog owners for their needs and can be fun for dogs in the right setting.

It’s not wrong to help your dog’s teeth or strengthen their brains, but the toy is going to be inherently different. 

When you consider the role of dog toys and what you’re planning to buy, ask yourself — are you buying this for your dog’s enjoyment or some other reason?

The staff at Camp Canine knows the toys and outdoor settings dogs love.

What types of toys are there?

There are several types of toys that dogs often use differently but can provide both mental and physical stimulation.

• Squeaky toys — We all know these toys. But did you know dogs like them because their squeaks mimic the sound of injured or scared prey? These toys will work great if your dog likes to hunt and sneak around.
• Puzzle toys — Some dogs who were bred to work, like Australian Sheperds, often need mental stimulation as much as the physical stimulation. Beyond this, puzzle toys can also help aging dogs keep their brain working and healthy. These include treat dispensing toys that require some mental work to get their favorite treat reward.
• Chewing toys — From teething puppies to German Sheperds with their massive jaws, chew toys are a great way for dogs to relieve pent-up energy or aggression.
• Tug ropes — Another toy great for dogs who like to hunt for prey, like the Belgian Malinois. When your dog tugs the rope against you or another dog, it allows them to relieve any pent-up energy.
• Plush toys — Some dogs love plush toys to just nook — or let the toy soak in their mouth. Another reason dogs love plush toys is they’re easy to tear apart. It can cause a mess but also allow high-energy dogs, like Golden Retrievers, to release energy.
• Comfort toys — These toys can come in many shapes and sizes, but your dog will use these toys as comforting possessions. During times of stress or when they’re in unfamiliar surroundings, all dogs will appreciate you bringing a favorite toy or blanket with them for comfort.

Why do dogs like some toys more than others?

If you could answer this question, the billion-dollar dog toy market would be yours to revolutionize.

One study looked at labradors and found that dogs, like humans, have a recency bias. They love playing with a new toy, but slowly lose their affection for them over time.

Another thing to consider is whether the toy is the right size for their mouths. If the toy is too large or too small it can be a choking hazard or difficult for them to have fun with.

Dogs are social animals and will constantly seek the attention of their human best friend, so they may inherently enjoy toys you like to play with more than others. Because dogs are just great like that.  

With services like tick removal and deskunking, all dogs love a day at the dog spa.

Why do dogs get protective or bored of toys?

Beyond just playing with toys, some dogs get protective, aggressive, or straight up just hide their favorite toys. These behaviors are complicated and can signal different things in your pup.

Aggressive protection

Aggressively protective dogs may have had to fight for their toys when they were younger, so they go out of their way to protect them. If this is the case, consider checking them in with an animal behaviorist.


If you have a girl dog who had their pups taken too early or a failed pregnancy in the past, you may see them get overly protective with their toys.

They may be treating their soft toys like their little pups. As cute as it is, your dog will take this seriously, so be careful and read your dog’s emotions as you interact with this toy.

Hiding toys

We all know dogs are extremely territorial.

With their paws and incredible noses, burying their food or toys could have been a way for them to protect their treasures. If you find your dog whining for no apparent reason with its toy and you have no dirt for digging, it might be trying to hide its toy. You may find it weeks later on the couch, or in some place out of reach.

Just being aware of why your dog might be acting strange can help keep you, your dog, and visitors to your home safe.

How do I know what types of toys are good for my dog?

All types of toys are good for dogs, but the challenge will be figuring out what they want.

As you get to know your dog, look for the toys they have the most fun with and the toys they leave alone. These are good indicators of whether your dog will or will not like a new toy.

And just because a dog doesn’t like a new toy, doesn’t mean they won’t ever like it. Try using treats or taking them out on walks with you to play fetch.

If you’re considering taking your dog to a pet spa, the staff will be so happy if you bring your favorite toy. They can bond with your dog by using their favorite toy, or maybe give them new toys to enjoy during their stay.

Camp Canine in Santa Barbara works hard to make sure your dog is happy, safe, and comfortable.

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