Wearm weather gives you plenty of time to play with your dog and spoil him with all kinds of toys. You can offer your dog many different items to play with in the summer, but some summer dog toys lend themselves better to different age groups. Let’s take a look at dog toys made with summer in mind.
Puppies will play with anything. Take my Mookie, who has never met a dog toy he didn’t like.
Since puppies are most impressionable, this time in your dog’s development presents a good opportunity to introduce him to an activity you’d like him to enjoy throughout his life. If swimming and playing in the water is one of those activities, buy him toys designed for it.
Dog toy manufacturers have designed a plethora of toys meant to be tossed into the water and retrieved. They feature dog-attracting shapes made from material that helps them float.
When my Corgi, Nigel, was a puppy, we’d take him to the beach with a green, bone-shaped water toy made from plastic. We’d toss the ball into the shallow surf and watch him leap into the water to retrieve it. Because it floated, it was easy for him to see and to retrieve. Initially, Nigel was apprehensive around water until we used his insane urge to chase and retrieve to coax him into the ocean. We tossed his toy into the shallow water until he worked up the courage to go after it. Once he got over his fear of the ocean, he was excited to go to the beach so he could retrieve his green floating bone.
To know if a toy you are considering is designed for water play, read the packaging and look for information stating that the toy can float. Another water fun favorite is the ordinary green tennis ball. It’s hard to find a dog who isn’t attracted to tennis balls, and when you toss them into the water and they float, they become even more appealing.
Once a dog has reached maturity, he can run and jump without restraint. This is the time to break out the canine flying disc, a favorite toy for many dogs. Most commonly known by the brand name Frisbee, flying discs are plastic gliding toys designed to soar through the air with a mere flick of the wrist.
Flying discs give dogs an excuse to leap up into the air to catch them. The toy also moves fast when it lands on its edge after it hits the ground, giving the dog a chance to race after it. And flying discs float. Some dogs love to retrieve them from the water.
If your dog has never played with a flying disc, you’ll need to teach him how to do it. Start by tossing the disc to him from a short distance. Once he tries to catch it, try throwing it past him. Keep the disc low — it can take a dog a while to catch on to the idea of leaping into the air for it. Once your dog is chasing the disc as far as you throw it near the ground, elevate your throws. When your dog starts to jump up to catch the disc, you’ll know he’s catching on.
You can play “catch the disc” with your dog at a park, at the beach or even in your backyard. Make sure the disc you’re using is designed for dogs. This will ensure that the plastic is nontoxic in case your dog chews on it and swallows a piece. It will also be lighter weight to make it safer for your dog to catch without hurting his teeth.
Toys best played outdoors that don’t require too much exertion are a good choice for older dogs.
One of my all-time favorite dog toys is the Wiggly Giggly ball, a hard plastic ball containing a sound mechanism that makes hilarious noises when it moves. Even as a senior, Nigel adored his Wiggly Giggly ball, pushing it around with his nose to get it to produce weird honking and oinking noises. It’s is a good outside toy for the summer because of its tough plastic exterior and noisy predisposition. You probably don’t want your dog pushing it around in the house while you’re trying to watch TV or talk on the phone.
Another good summer toy for senior dogs is a puzzle game. A toy that requires some thinking to get the treats to dispense will keep an older dog busy and stimulated for hours. These toys don’t require a lot of physical activity, but they do keep a dog’s mind busy. Set up a puzzle toy or two for your older dog outside on the patio, and sit back with a lemonade as you watch him figure it out.
Whatever stage of your life your dog is in, take advantage of the summer weather to spend some quality time with him outdoors. Play with him as much as you can — you’ll only have a few months to do it before fall and winter set in.
Thumbnail: Photography by otsphoto/shutterstock.
Read more about summer and dogs on Dogster.com:
An award-winning writer and editor, Audrey Pavia is a former managing editor of Dog Fancy magazine and former senior editor of The AKC Gazette. She is the author of The Labrador Retriever Handbook (Barrons) and has also written extensively on horses as well as other pets. She shares her home in Norco, California, with two rescue dogs, Candy and Mookie.