It can sometimes be challenging to keep our dog engaged and well exercised. And we all know, that when left to find his own “entertainment“, a dog will come up with many ingenious ways to cause great property damage. Investing in dog toys will make everyone happier, as well as save us some frustration, worry, and money.
Below are a list of toys that my dogs most enjoy. To keep my dogs’ interest in their toys, I usually cycle through different ones, each day of the week. Note that the following descriptions are solely based on my own experiences. Different dogs have different temperaments, and may have different responses to a toy.
Supervise a dog, whenever we give him a new toy. Consult with our vet, if there are safety concerns.
1. Food Dog Toys
One of the best classes of toys for dogs, are interactive food toys.
My dogs spend the most time on their food toys, because they are always trying to figure out the fastest, most efficient way, to get at the food.
Some of their favorite interactive toys include Kongs, the Premier Busy Buddy Collection, the Buster Cube, and much more. Here is a full list of their best interactive food toys.
2. Plush or Tug Dog Toys
When presented with a plush toy, my dogs will often shred it, usually in a matter of minutes.
Therefore, it is absolutely necessary to supervise plush toy use, and only allow tug-of-war or fetch games. No chewing should be allowed, in case our dog swallows the squeaker, or other plastic parts within the toy.
My dogs prefer to play tug with plush toys, compared to tug-ropes or rubber-toys. Plush toys squeak, rattle, are easy on the mouth, and are easy to grip. Their favorite soft toys include Dr. Noy’s Dog Toy, Kyjen’s Extreme Bungee Duck Toy, and the Egg Babies Hedgehog.
For the Egg Babies Hedgehog, I remove the squeaky eggs because they are too distracting, and my Shiba Inu cannot resist chewing on them. Instead I put in a chew-safe ball. Then I put some kibble under the ball, and let my dogs figure out how to get the kibble out.
I do not play tug with Shiba Sephy because he gets too excited and reactive, even with strict tug rules. He only plays tug with my other dogs.
3. Chew Dog Toys
Shiba Sephy is an extremely strong chewer, so it is difficult to find good and safe chew toys, for him.
Strong rubber toys, (e.g. Kong Rubber Toys, Nylabone Rhino Rope Toy, TireBiter), seem to be most appropriate. However, I still check his toys frequently, to make sure they are structurally sound.
For instance, Sephy can chew fairly large pieces off the TireBiter toy, if he is feeling persistent and determined. Luckily, he does not show any interest in eating those pieces. It is important to supervise closely when we give a new chew toy to our dog, and ensure he does not swallow any large pieces of rubber or plastic.
Sephy also loved to chew on deer antlers. One day, he found a deer antler while hiking in the hills around our house. He proudly carried it home, and had great fun chewing on it.
Since then, we have always kept our eyes open for new antlers, but have not found too many. Therefore, we decided to buy some from AntlerZ. Sephy really loved these antlers, but he cracked one of his pre-molars, while chewing on this dog toy. It was cracked so badly that we were unable to save the tooth with a root canal, and it had to be extracted.
The dental specialist told us not to give any compressed chewing toys (toys that are hard, with no give) to our dogs. These include processed antlers, processed bones, compressed rawhide, hooves, and hard Nylabone non-edible chews. Note that before this, I have given non-edible Nylabones to my dogs for about 1 year, without any problems. However, here are some reports of hard Nylabones, cracking a dog’s teeth. Based on what I have read, it depends on the hardness of the Nylabone, chew strength of the dog, age of the dog, and duration of the chew session.
Softer Nylabones and rawhide, however, may also be dangerous for dogs.
Many dogs can tear off fairly large chunks of the rawhide, and if swallowed, these chunks may become a choking hazard. They may also block the digestive system and cause infection. Rawhide pieces may absorb water and expand in our dog’s stomach, causing further digestive problems.
4. Balls and Frisbee Dog Toys
My dogs (a Shiba Inu and two Siberian Huskies) don’t generally do fetch.
They may fetch a couple of balls and actually bring it back to me, but they quickly get bored thereafter. The same goes for frisbees.
In terms of ball games, my dogs prefer soccer a lot more than fetch. They are most interested in balls that make noise, including squeaky balls and the Wiggly Giggly Ball.
5. Homemade Dog Toys
My dog loves cardboard boxes.
He will tear a cardboard box apart to get to the food or toy I put inside. Then, he will shred the box some more. This simple, and free “dog toy”, can be good mental exercise for our dog, because he will be challenged to figure out how to get to the hidden food, in the fastest possible way.
Afterward, he can indulge his shredding instinct to his heart’s content. Be warned however, there will be many little pieces of cardboard left all over the floor, at the end of this activity.
My dog also loves shredding paper, and it is simple to hide some food in a ball of paper, and let him go at it.
Make sure that our dog is not interested in eating the cardboard or paper. If he loves the taste of cardboard, then this dog toy is not appropriate. The cardboard can be a choking hazard, and is bad for the digestive system.
This game works with any light (not heavy) basket or container. Just put our dog’s favorite toy and some treats under the basket, and let him figure out how to get to it.
Make sure there are no sharp edges, and the container is non-toxic. If our dog is uninterested, make sure he knows there is good stuff under the basket. It is best to start with a smaller basket, that is easier to lift or that may be easily knocked over.
Once he conquers the smaller containers, he can then slowly graduate to larger containers.
6. Other Interactive Toys
Kyjen has a line of engaging interactive toys, including the I-Qube.
I hide food in soft toys, and then put them into the I-Qube for my dog to work on. Sometimes, I will also put Kongs or Premier food toys into the I-Qube, so that my dog has to fish it out first, before getting to work on the toy.
When I first got the I-Qube, my Shiba Inu chewed-on and destroyed the soft cube in under 1 minute. As stated above, soft or plush toys are not suitable for dogs, unless they are closely supervised.
I have since discovered that putting food in the I-Qube, instead of the squeaky balls that it comes with, helps to refocus my dog. He will work at getting the food first, rather than chewing on the toy. I remove the I-Qube once he gets all the food out.
Cheap Dog Toys
Amazon often has some super discounts on dog toys. These discounts are a great way to save money.
Unlike food and grooming products, there are usually a wide range of quality dog toys to choose from, and they need not be bought on a fixed schedule. Therefore, I wait until the toys that I want are on sale, before getting them.
Here are some 50%-70% dog toys at Amazon. We may want to join Amazon Prime to save on shipping and handling costs.
Ashley Woodburn says
My shiba is an insane chewer. I don’t like using food based toys whole I’m gone at work because I’m concerned there could be a potential food aggression with my other dog. She really is most interested in self play with plush toys but as you know has shredded every heavy duty toy on the market. Most of your above options don’t appear to be available and I was wondering if you had any recent updated toys that could be helpful
Hi! I just got my male siberian husky, hes still a puppy, and even though we bought him plenty of toys, his favorite are the sticks in the backyard, he’ll strip off the bark and chew on it, he’s already gone through one. And he’s working on the second one :3
Hi, just want to get as much advice on preparing my home to bring home a 2 year old male Siberian cross shiba, he is a rescue dog that was notorious for escaping his yard as he was under exercised and also by sounds anxiety when left alone. We already have a female beagle in the home (both dogs have been spayed) so hopefully that will relive his anxiety etc… Any toys you recommend, how to inteoduce them and also how much to exercise him as we are currently having some quiet warm weather. He is also know to mark furniture any ideas on how to stop this?
Four paws up for rescuing a Husky/Shiba in need!
Here are some things that I keep in mind while introducing a new dog to my existing dogs for the first time-
Here are some things that I do in the longer term to help my dogs get along-
In terms of exercise, that will be very dependent on the dog, his level of comfort, the environment, etc. I walk my Sibes daily for about 1.5 hours, but they are already leash trained and very comfortable with me. When I was first training them, we would go on shorter but more frequent walks. In this way, they get practice, they don’t become bored or frustrated, and I also get to rest and regroup in-between. 😀
For variety, we will also play games together in the backyard, do grooming and touch exercises, and I also follow the NILIF program so that my dogs work for their food.
Is he fully potty trained? Does he only pee in the house when left alone? Peeing can also be a result of separation anxiety.
My golden lab has chewed up black kongs… I am thinking it might have been to small.. should I buy a bigger kong or do you know of any other toys that are stronger, thicker, durable? thanks.
P.S. I love the pictures of your dogs with their toys. to cute.
Thanks Catalina. 🙂
In terms of toys, size can sometimes make a difference. For example, I had gotten a small Twist-and-Turn toy for my Shiba, and he tore off chunks of it. After this, I got him a medium sized one, and so far, he has not tried to dismantle it.
In terms of chew toys, there are definitely some durable ones. However, the problem here is that we don’t want to get ones that are too hard, as they may cause our dogs to crack their teeth. I have started testing out regular Nylabones again (not the heavy-duty ones that are advertised for strong chewers), and so far, they have not caused any problems. However, people have reported that the heavy-duty ones can result in cracked teeth, so there is some risk there. Another possibility is the softer dental chew nylabones – but my dogs tore those to pieces really quickly.
I also give my Sibes bully sticks, but they get through those pretty quickly.
Nice article. Thank for the info
shredding company fort lauderdale says
if your dog loves to shred paper maybe we will contact him and hire him in order for our business to be 100% green 🙂
Great ideas! i never thought of hiding toys in a box or laundry basket.
Sam Partridge says
I have a 2yo Sibe and a 18mo Rottweiler. Both very strong chewers and the Rottie has chewed chunks off a house brick when frustrated.
When our dogs don’t have adequate stimulation they attack koalas and other wildlife, and bark way too much.
I have had great results with the black Kong toys. The red ones are softer and a large dog can easily break them. My dogs can’t break or split the black Kongs.
A GOOD TIP – if you put cling film on the bottom of a Kong and fill it with water or milk, then freeze it, it keeps my dogs cooler on a hot day and gives at least an hour of fun trying to get the milk ice out.
Dogs are quite easy to please, keeping them happy is not hard. They need variety of environments and interactions, a structured life with a clear heirarchy of power, and play each day.
Thanks for your great suggestions. I was giving my Sibe ice cubes in the summer, but I really like the idea of freezing water in Kongs instead. She will be able to get a much better grip on the Kong without it slipping all over the place.
Wow that is pretty amazing. Yeah I have some black Kongs mixed with the red ones. Sephy and Shania are usually only interested in getting the stuff out and don’t really chew on the Kongs.
I agree. Dogs do much for us, and they ask for very little in return.
Thank you =) Tango really is sweet, and he knows it. If he cuddles up to me he knows he gets what he wants. I’m so gullible. And thank you for the advice. I’ll buy the Extreme Kong and Twist & Turn today. I think I’m more excited than Tango.
I read about the bubble machine. I look forward to the pictures. I’ll monitor your blog from now on.
I hope you don’t mind my asking for advice. What toy would you recommend that would give a Sibe workout? Something like a good alternative to running around the lawn. I’m afraid it’s very hot out here right now, which I’m guessing makes Tango want to stay indoors during the day and play at night when it’s much cooler.
lol – I know what you mean with the cuddling. Shania is the same way. She is totally irresistible. I think I also fall into the gullible group 🙂
You are definitely right with the weather. Shania doesn’t like being outside either when it is hot. She will go for a walk with me every morning and then she will mostly rest inside the house for most of the day. At night we leave her outside until before we go to bed. She has a lot of fun going around hunting voles, squirrels, lizards, and such – lol
The only non-food toy that Shania plays with for an extended amount of time are her non-edible Nylabones. She really likes to chew, so the Nylabones keep her busy.
*** I must warn you though that a dental specialist advised us not to give our dogs Nylabones because she said that it may be too hard. My Shiba Inu Sephy had cracked one of his pre-molars on a processed deer antler because it was too hard. So there are some chew toys including hooves, and processed bones that are too hard for dogs. I have not had any bad mishaps with the Nylabones yet – been using them for about 1 year – still there is a risk.
It is one of those things – balancing safety with fun.
The hard rubber chew toys will not cause any teeth damage, but Shania is not very interested in chewing those. Also if you decide to use those, you want to make sure that Tango does not chew off large pieces and try to swallow them. Rawhides are also bad because dogs can chew off large pieces and these may become a choking hazard or cause digestive issues.
Sorry for giving such a long answer 🙂 So far, I haven’t really found a very good solution either …
Haha, it’s alright. Thank you again! This time for the information about Nylabones. When I read that it broke Sephy’s pre-molar I don’t bother to look at them anymore as possible toy choices.
I just brought Tango out to the yard last night, and he ran directly to the bushes and pounced! I have no idea what he was after, but he looked so happy. It’s such a joy to see him simply have fun.
Tango is almost 8 months old, but I haven’t trained him to be a good boy while going on walks yet. Every time we go out I always have a fear that he’ll somehow escape his harness. It’s already happened once when he saw some cats. =( That was scary. I saw that you wrote about leash training… I’ll check it out. =D
LOL – Yeah Shania is the same way. Siberians have a strong prey drive. Shania goes nuts when she sees cats. I have been trying to desensitize her with cats and she has gotten a bit better with sedate cats. Moving cats though are still too much for her.
On the good news side, we used to have voles that dug up the grass and such in our backyard, but this year, Shania has kept our backyard vole free. Sometimes, the prey drive can work in your favor 🙂
A great chase/prey game that Shania loves playing is the flirt pole.
I couldn’t find a pole lying around the house so I just got a rope and tied a Denta Stix on one end. I was laughing so hard when my Sibe was running around and trying to catch it. He couldn’t even get the stick off the rope even when I let him have it. He was exhausted, too. I should’ve thought of this earlier. Your tips really help me in taking core of my dog. I’m so glad I found your site!
We also have a rodent problem at home! The rats are still here but they’re not as bold as they used to be when we didn’t have Tango yet.
It’s scary when I see Tango chase a cat. He runs SO fast and the cat would just run for dear life. Poor kitty.
Hi! I found your site when I was searching for suitable toys for a Sibe. I’m a first-time Sibe owner so I need all the help I can get. There’s still a lot I need to know about the breed.
There are just too many dog toys to choose from, and I didn’t know where to start. I’ve just been looking at the KONG brand. Your site has helped me a lot in deciding which toys I should get for my pet. Thanks so much!! It’s been very informative. Good luck with raising your Sephy and Shania! They’re beautiful dogs. =)
Shania likes the frozen Kongs. She also enjoys working on the Premier Twist-n-Turn toy. Being a three-legged-dog the Buster Cube and Omega ball are a bit difficult for her, but my Shiba Inu likes those.
Last weekend I set up a bubble machine for my dogs and they really loved it. It is one where you attach to a garden hose. Will write about it as soon as I download the photos 🙂
Hugs to your Sibe. They really are a very sweet breed.