Toys fall into two categories: Play /action toys for throwing and tugging with the handler, and chewing/pastime toys. It should be understood that there is no such thing as a completely safe toy.
Pastime toys are just that: Something for the puppy to occupy his little jaws with when you can't be with him. If he must spend a period of time crated or kenneled, he can easily become bored and start destructive chewing on the kennel, or himself. Provide a safe chew toy and then make things lively with action toys when you let him out.
Puppies can ingest an amazing variety of things, so it is best to watch your puppy and frequently check the toys to see that they are not developing loose bits or sharp edges. That said, you are fairly safe with chew toys made of hard rubber and bones.
Never give your puppy old personal items to play with unless you don't mind his eating the brand new version too. An old shoe is worthless to you, but tastes and smells just the same as a brand new pair of Bruno Magli's to your puppy.
Action toys should be reserved for that special interaction between you and your pup. The toy belongs to you, and you play with the puppy, but take the toy away after wards and put it away. It only appears in conjunction with you, and becomes a link to foster enthusiasm and cooperation.
Toys for playing with you include jute, suede, synthetic and bite suit tugs, hard rubber balls on a string, and disc type toys that can be thrown and tugged. Hard Frisbees should be avoided because they encourage the dog to jump and twist in the air, often landing in a bad position. Veterinary orthopedists see a lot of spine and cruciate ligament injuries requiring surgery because of Frisbee play.
In general, don't leave your puppy alone with items he can chew into small enough bits to eat, and save toss and tug toys for special interaction with you.
Copyright 2005 Julia Priest