Whether it’s a birthday present, a puppy kindergarten graduation gift, or just a thank you for being your biggest fan, your dog deserves something special now and then. So we asked a group of dog experts to name the one toy they’d like their favorite pups to unwrap, and they obliged.
1. The Kong. A rubber snowman-shaped toy you stuff with treats…and then wonder how your dog ever manages to free them. (Kong, $6)
“It’s a super-durable chew toy, but its true value is its ability to occupy your dog for hours on end — I refer to it as ‘The Nanny.'”
– Kathy Santo, professional dog trainer, House Beautiful’s “Ask the Dog Shrink” columnist, and frequent guest on the Martha Stewart Show.
2. Hide-a-Squirrel. Plush-style hollowed-out tree stump housing three squeaky, removable squirrels. (Kyjen Company, $11)
“My all-time favorite is the Hide-a-Squirrel, which allows dogs to pull things out and feeds right into their carcass dissection programming. It also comes in a Hide-a-Bee and Hide-a-Bird model.”
– Jean Donaldson, trainer, behaviorist, founder and director of the San Francisco SPCA Academy for Dog Trainers, and author of The Culture Clash: A Revolutionary New Way to Understanding the Relationship Between Humans and Domestic Dogs and Oh Behave! Dogs from Pavlov to Premack to Pinker (coming in 2008)
3. The Frostbite. The latest in flying disc technology. Who knew? (Skyhoundz, $3-$4)
“The Frostbite is made with a softer plastic that tends to puncture instead of splinter, so it’s safer for your pet than regular frisbees. Plus, it’s specially designed to survive the cold, and still be a good, catchable disk. But don’t leave your dog alone with it — he’ll chew right through it.”
– Melissa McCue, professional dog trainer and Frisbee instructor
4. Tuffies. Chewy, stuffed toys so durable, each one receives a toughness rating from the manufacturer. (VIP Products, $15-$30)
“I’m always looking for stimulating, safe toys and Tuffies are so durable. My own dog, Logan — half Malamute, half terrorist — had a Tuffie lobster toy that lasted 11 months. It was rated a seven.”
– Marc Pearl, owner, K-9 Playtime Doggie Daycare, in San Francisco
5. Henrietta. A rubber chicken dog toy. Because nothing says fun like a rubber chicken in a bikini. (Zanies, $7)
“I love Henrietta. It’s a squeaking chicken wearing a bikini. It’s just so funny and the dogs love it.”
– Eleonora Bonfini, owner, Teacups Puppies and Boutique, in Pembroke Pines, Florida
6. The Gappay ball and rope. A classic — what dogs played with in the olden days, before rubber chickens in bikinis were invented. (Gappay, $7)
“I’d have to recommend the near indestructible bumpy ball and rope — specially designed for working dogs but enjoyed by all dogs. Gotta have that rope for the most fun.”
– Bill Grimmer, founder of Grimmers Canine College and dog trainer for Christie Brinkley, among others
7. The Squirrel Dude. Similar to a Kong, but it features the so-called Treat Meter, which randomly dispenses treats. (Premier, $10).
“The Kong may be the Cadillac of chew toys, but the Squirrel Dude from Premier’s line of Busy Buddy toys is truly exceptional.”
– Ian and Kelly Dunbar, behaviorists, trainers, and DogTime contributing editors
8. The Toss-a-Lot. Looks like a small octopus, tastes like… well, leave that to your dog (Wubba, $16).
“My latest find: the Toss-A-Lot, made of ballistic nylon. It’s extremely durable and is a fetch and chew toy in one. Any of my dog’s favorites must have a squeaker — and this does!”
– Susie Kerwin-Hagen, marketing specialist, Midwest Airlines Premier Pet Program
9. The Leo. If Lincoln Logs were chew toys. For dogs. Sort of. (Canine Genius, $19)
“The Leo, from Canine Genius, is a good puzzle solving toy and interactive when treats or meals are placed inside them. If you have more than one, you can interlock them together making the toy more of a challenge.“
–Pamela “PJ” Wangsness, trainer and AKC Good Citizen Evaluator in Northern Nevada
10. Plush Gingerbread Man. It’s soft. It’s squishy. It squeaks. And the dogs say they like it. (Pooch Pleasers, $10)
“I have found multiple requests by the dogs for the gingerbread man plush toy. The soft, furry style is easy to grab with their mouths and can be thrown like a ball for retrieving.”
– Frances Greenspan, animal communicator in Southern California