Does this sound familiar? You grab one end of a dog toy, your pup grabs the other, and you begin a serious game of tug of war. An interactive toy reserved for playing tug makes training and playtime easier. But what are some of the best tug toys for dogs?
These toys can range from a rope toy, ball, squeaky plush animal, rubber toy, or more. We have to note that most veterinarians recommend staying away from a rope tug toy because dogs can pull off and swallow a strand of fiber. More on that later on.
What Is A Dog Tug Toy?
Now, the simplest explanation is a toy that can be pulled on. It is a good description. Yet, many toys are either too short or not designed with pulling in mind. We have to remind you that there is no such thing as indestructible dog toys.
Some toys might be chew-resistant, but they will fall to pieces when tugged in two directions. Tug toys are designed to be yanked back and forth by you and your pet without breaking.
The ideal toy should be easy to grip with your hands and your dogs mouth. If only one of you can grip the toy properly, that would be a one-sided game.
These best tug toys for dogs come in different shapes and sizes.
Why Do Dogs Love Playing Tug Of War?
Now, some pet parents and dog owners have misconceptions about tug leading to aggressive behavior. But as any positive reinforcement trainer will tell you, it is a natural and positive part of a dog’s play.
Playing tug will tap into your dog’s natural drive to play hard and wrestle, making it a fantastic way to harness that drive and exercise your puppy.
But it also has other benefits. It is a stress reliever, a dog training reward, and a bond-builder. Whether the weather allows it to play outside, or inside, a tug can help you in many different scenarios.
How To Make It Special?
If you want to use a dog tug toy for training, you have to make it special. This cannot be your everyday toy. How can you do that?
Well, the moment you are done tugging, the toy goes away. Keep the tug-specific toy away when you are not training, and it will make it more special. The moment the toy comes out, your dog will be excited and will want to play more.
If the toy is always available, your dog will lose interest in it. Just because something is there, it doesn’t mean it is fun.
So, use a toy specifically only for dog training sessions to make it special.
What Are Some Different Dog Tug Toys?
Here is a fun fact. There are two types of tug toys. One that allows your dog to play on its own, and one where you both play. We prefer the latter, as it improves the bond you have with your puppy. Why would your dog want to play with you if he can do it on your own? We never recommend giving dogs toys to play on their own. With that in mind, here are some different toys for playing tug:
- Handheld tug toys are when you grab one end of the toy, the dog grabs the other, and you pull. This toy requires your input because, without you, it is just a chew toy. When you want to end the game, you can just stop giving input
- Tether tug toys are those where you set up a device, and your dog can play whenever he wants. These are good for lonely tuggers, but we rarely recommend them. Only on rare occasions when you have a dog that cannot stand alone time but loves to play tug
- A ring toy is a circularly-shaped pull toy, made of rubber or other sturdy material
- Suction toys feature a suction on one end that mounts to a floor, and usually a ball on the other side. Same as with tether toys, we do not recommend them
- Bumpers, or a rubber toy, can often be found in different shapes and sizes, allowing for a grip on either side
How To Choose The Ideal Tug Toy?
Now let’s talk about how you can choose the best dog tug toy? While tug game is a bonding and fun experience, it is also a physical game. If you do not choose a good puppy toy, you or your pup might get hurt. Here are some tips to help you.
- Choose a toy with space, one that is not too small to prevent bitten fingers. During the tug game, your dog might slip off the toy, readjust his grip, and bite down hard. Avoid it by choosing a toy with space
- Opt for a puppy toy that can be dropped at a moment’s notice. Avoid dog tug toys where you hook your fingers through, or wrap them around your hand. This can easily result in an injury. In the excitement of pulling, your dog might knock you off your feet and if you cannot let go of the toy, injuries happen
- Keep durability in mind. If you want a rubber toy, always go for one made of natural rubber. Always go for toys that can survive the vigorous playing tug game
- Consider toys that are suited for the grip of your dog, but yours as well
Our Top 3 Picks
Over the years, our experience has shown that some toys survive better than others. That being said, here are our top 3 picks
- West Paw Zogoflex Bumi Dog Tug Toy is an S–shaped molded toy that stretches to twice its size, offering a lot of space for playing
- The mammoth flossy rope toy is one of the few rope toys that we have found success with, as it is a versatile woven and knotted rope. You can also use it as a chew toy, and it comes in five sizes from mini to extra-large
- The best rubber toy in our mind is the SodaPup can pull tug toy, which is made of springy rubber and comes with a cute design. We have to note, it is not suitable for heavy chewers
DIY Tug Toys
When it comes to the best tug toys for dogs, we always recommend going the DIY route. Why? Because you do not have to spend a lot of money on a toy that might not survive the vigorous game. Here are some ideas. No matter if you have a small dog or a large dog, these dog tug toys will help.
Tug Toy With A Tennis Ball
For this DIY toy, you will an old T-shirt, a tennis ball, and some scissors. Lay your shirt flat, and then cut it across in three strategic places. Wrap the ball inside two of the pieces, and use the smallest piece of shirt to cinch the toy together. You can cut the remaining pieces of cloth into strips and braid
Rope Toy From An Old T-shirt
For this DIY toy, you also need some old shirts. Start by cutting your old shirt under the armpits, and then cut about 2 inches apart at the bottom. Cut down the shirt to get a strand of fabric, and then pull on the fabric to stretch it. Continue getting strands, and then put them together for an amazing T-shirt rope toy.
Towel Tug Toy
For our last DIY project, we need tattered towels that get new life. Make sure to wash them before. Cut three strips of towel about 4 inches wide and at least 12 inches long. Then tie them off at one end with a small towel strip. Braid and use another strip to tie off the end. Even if you have an aggressive chewer, this toy will do it.