As you can imagine, we go through a few dog toys at Heads & Tails... in fact, we'd go as far to say we've tried most of them!
There's a huge variety available, but it's usually hard to know which ones will go the distance until you get out and give them a go. Since these products often aren't cheap, this can be quite an expensive process... and before you know it, you've blown half your pay cheque on prezzies for your pet... oops!
Luckily we've done all the hard work for you. Our happy little Heads & Tails crew members have tried and tested lots of dog toys and picked their top five favourites for park play. We did ask the gang to bear a few things in mind when making their selections:
Firstly, we were looking for toys that would last the distance. No toy is indestructible, but we expected a favourite toy to remain intact and functional whilst submitted to some pretty *rigorous* testing.
Secondly, the toys needed to be easy to clean... because a toy soaked in slobber (or worse) after a workout at the park is just a little bit gross. Especially if it then sits in the car or house until the next walk. So this pretty much rules out all fabric and plush toys.
Thirdly, and most importantly, toys need to be FUN, and interesting enough to sustain dogs' interest for more than 5 minutes! A boring old tennis ball simply will not do!
Check out our recommendations below! In no particular order...
1. Chuckit Ultra Squeaker Large (approx $20)
Chuckit is pretty much our go-to brand when it comes to dog toys because the products actually last. Not only that, but they're super bright so easy to find in the park. We found the Chuckit Ultra Squeaker last year and have bought a few since. As with all toys that make noise, the squeaker has a limited life span. However, we were pleased to find that when the squeaker died it wasn't at risk of falling out, and the toy remained fully intact. The dogs love this one and so do we!
2. Kong Squeezz Dumbbell Large (approx $23)
Kong is a household name in dog entertainment, and it's easy to understand why. As dog toys go, Kong are about as durable as they come. Our dogs are super keen on anything that squeaks, so the original Squeezz range is perfect for us. The Squeezz range comes in a variety of shapes and sizes, but the dogs inevitably go crazy for this large dumbbell. It's a little more interesting than a ball, but unlike the bone-shaped Squeezz (which is flat), the dumbbell still rolls around when thrown. The end sections are the weak point of this toy and do eventually come away from the main body. The great part is that this doesn't seem to ruin the toy (or its' appeal): when the toy wears, we have simply removed these parts so the dumbbell becomes hollow, and the dogs continue to safely enjoy it. Very highly recommend!
3. JW Pet Cuz Ball Medium (approx $10)
I'd hate to think how many of these Cuz toys we've bought - they have been a crowdpleaser for such a long time. Cuz toys come in a variety of different creatures but we keep coming back to the original, as they seem the strongest. We love that these come in bright colours and the squeaker is extra loud. They're also quite affordable: a medium Cuz (about the size of a regular tennis ball) is only around $10. We do have two minor issues with these, which are important to note. When the squeaker pulls away from the rubber, it is at risk of popping inside/outside the ball itself. We advise removing the squeaker when this first happens, for safety reasons. Also, for some reason we find dogs like to obsessively chew at the Cuz's feet... so we have resorted to cutting them off! When used during supervised play, Cuz balls are a great option... but if you have a highly destructive pooch, these might not be your first pick.
4. Chuckit Fetch Medley (approx $40)
We simply can't go past the Chuckit Fetch Medley from a value for money perspective. This product includes three different balls, two of which have interesting features. One glows in the dark, which is great for dusk/night walks and seems to provide a different experience for the dogs (we call it 'UFO hunting'). The other has strategically placed holes, which create a high-pitched whistle sound when thrown. The third ball is recycled, which doesn't bother the dogs one iota, but is impressive to us from a sustainability perspective. All balls are high-bouncing, particularly if thrown from a ball launcher. The dogs seem to really enjoy these; overall they appear to prefer the rubber texture in their mouth as compared to that of a tennis ball (and rubber is much safer on the teeth, just ask your Vet). These are a great buy.
5. Chuckit Kick Fetch Ball (approx $55)
This one is designed to get you and your dog moving! No more deflated soccer balls and trashed footballs; the Kick Fetch is a soccer ball custom-made for dogs. We put our Kick Fetch ball through the ultimate test and booted it around with a bunch of large, ball-mad dogs who gave it an absolute thrashing. Whilst there were small puncture-marks in the blue recesses, the ball remained completely intact and has done ever since. We love this toy because it gets us active as well; the dogs find it easy to pick up and carry; and it's a bit different from other toys on the market... there's nothing else quite like it. Take our word for it and put it on the Christmas list!
There you have it, our best recommendations for maximum canine engagement at the park. Remember, all toys do expire over time, and none are completely resistant to the enthusiastic jaws of a determined dog. However, you can greatly extend the life of your dog toys by ensuring they are rinsed and stored away after play. We recommend only using toys under supervision, unless they are specifically designed to occupy the dog in your absence. And if you're unsure what size of toy to buy your dog, always err on buying bigger rather than smaller: your dog's toys should not be small enough for him/her to swallow!
Happy playing! :)