All work and no play makes for no fun! Learn about the types of toys available for your Service Dog to enjoy during their down times. Just like humans, working Service Dogs have a need for relaxation and leisure time. Without time to play, they can experience mood shifts and changes in productivity. Thankfully, there are many different types of toys, games, and educational items your Service Dog can enjoy while off the clock!
Service Dog Chew Toys
All dogs have an innate need to chew. It’s one of the many ways canines explore their world, especially when young. Chewing also provides dogs with a potent form of stress relief. For working and Service Dogs, chewing is an easy way to recover from the work day, which helps prevent burn out.
Dozens of types of chew toys exist, from raw bones to rubber toys to classic Nylabones. When selecting chew toys for your Service Dog, consider your dog’s size, interest, and chew style. Match chew toy sizes to your dog — the toy should be longer than your dog’s muzzle is wide. Next, work to determine what type of toy your dog will most enjoy. Does your Service Dog prefer the sultry goodness of a marrow-filled bone from the butcher, or do they simply prefer to gnaw on some natural (canine safe) rubber?
Finally, choose toys suitable for your dog’s chewing style. Some dogs are power chewers and will happily chomp through all but the strongest toys. Other dogs are very gentle and would do well with softer or less challenging toys.
Service Dog Chase Toys
Lots of dogs love to play chase, especially if they’re from the working, guardian, or sporting dog groups. Every dog is an individual, so your Service Dog may or may not like to chase. Chase toys offer prime opportunity to help your partner get physical exercise without requiring a lot of exertion on your part.
Chase toy options range from the humble ball to flirt poles (lifechangers if you need to quickly and thoroughly exercise a dog!) to the frisbee to mechanical toy launchers to remote controlled options. If the toy goes somewhere and your dog runs after it (with or without bringing it back), it’s a chase toy.
Service Dog Tug Toys
Tugging is a natural behavior for dogs. The activity provides a great way to naturally strengthen your dog’s structure and practice impulse control and obedience, all while having fun. Tug toys include ropes, soft toys, rubber toys and other long, sturdy objects. When playing tug, remember to follow the core safety rules and behavioral expectations.
Service Dog Food and Puzzle Toys
Food and puzzle toys rule the mental stimulation category. These toys provide slots, holes, or spaces to fill with kibble or another tasty treat before offering to your Service Dog. Your dog then can work to remove the treats. Puzzle toys give your dog a way to spend quiet time alone while still having fun and solving problems. Regular work on your Service Dog’s problem solving ability can increase their creativity and response during task work.
Food and puzzle forms take many forms and can range from a 2-liter bottle filled with kibble with holes cut in it for your dog to shake around to extremely complex multi-tiered plastic mazes. The most common and classic food toy is the KONG toy.