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Top 5 Dog Toys (to keep your dog busy and happy when he's home alone)

Updated on January 24, 2014
Rusty with his Kong Wubba
Rusty with his Kong Wubba

The first couple of times my husband and I left our newly-adopted German Shepherd mix, Rusty, home alone during the day while we went off to work we realized he is absolutely 100% a dog who needs a challenging job to do - and plenty of good (and strong!) toys to play with when he doesn't have his favorite people around for attention. Within his first few weeks in our home, he chewed up a pair of flip flops, a pair of (pricey) dress shoes, the arm of a wooden bench...a decent sized section of the wall in our hallway...etc...etc...etc.

Anybody who has an dog in their family can probably sympathize... Thus, we began our ongoing search for the best toys out there to give Rusty something to occupy his time, his brain, and his (rather large) chewing muscles when we can't be at home showering him with attention. The following are our tried and true Rusty-approved favorites, that have kept his attention (and resisted his destruction) over time.

#1 KONG Extreme

I absolutely love this toy! Rusty is definitely a chewer, and it's extremely easy for him to chew right through so many toys - he's had many that have only lasted a day. His KONG Extreme though, he's had for over three years now, and despite the fact that he chews on it almost every day he hasn't left even a single tooth imprint in it. We fill the hollow interior of ours with a little bit of peanut butter when we're going out and leaving Rusty home alone - you don't need to use much, just get it nice and deep inside the KONG so it'll take longer to get it all out. So not only is this great chew toy, but it's also great to keep your dog mentally stimulated - it's a challenge for them to get out every drop of yummy filling.

#2 Nylabone Dura Chew Wishbone Chew Toy

Yet another fantastic option for extreme chewers! Just as he chews through toys, Rusty can finish most bones within a matter minutes. Nylabones, however, take him MONTHS to get through...and he loves the flavor! The wishbone shape pictured here is his favorite, I think because the shape makes it easy to grasp in his mouth while holding onto the end with his paw, although the ring shaped one is a close second (he'll hold this one between his paws to keep it in place as he chews). He also enjoys the bone shaped ones, but they're harder for him to grasp so he doesn't choose them quite as often. We leave his Nylabones out for him even when we're home, and he'll sit for hours just happily chewing on one. As a matter of fact when he knows it's almost walk time, but I'm moving too slowly for his liking at getting ready, he'll run to find his Nylabone and watch me while he chews; I think it's his way of containing his excitement at the eminent walk, so that he won't go too crazy with anticipation.

#3 KONG Wubba

Another extremely durable one. My sister in law got this for Rusty for Christmas, and 3 months later it's still good as new. We love it for a few reasons - one, the obvious, is he's yet to chew through it. In addition, the bouncy ball with tails flying behind provides Rusty with endless hours of entertainment chasing it around the house. He adores playing tug-of-war with it as well. And lastly, it has a great squeaker inside of it. Rusty, like most dogs, loves squeaky toys. But he's an expert at locating the squeaker within a toy, squeaking it incessantly for minutes, and then using those sharp teeth to pull the squeaker right out of the toy. If he can't get a squeaker out of a toy, he usually wears it out to the point where it stops squeaking within about a week. This squeaker is still going strong.

#4 KONG Wobbler

We like to use our KONG Wobbler in conjunction with our KONG Extreme, to provide variety for Rusty. While the KONG Extreme has a hollow interior with a larger hole at its base (perfect for filling with sticky peanut butter) the KONG Wobbler has a stopper at the bottom to keep treats from coming out, and just a key shaped opening in the very middle. We fill this one with kibble and small solid treats, and let Rusty go to town. As the name implys, it wobbles, so if we set it upright Rusty will swat at it with his paws to tip it or spin it, until treats fly out. It's definitely a mental challenge for him, and takes a lot of time to get through all the goodies inside. And like the KONG Extreme we've had this one for a long time, and barely a single tooth mark in it. Recently, we've taken to feeding Rusty his breakfast in his Wobbler every morning, for added mental stimulation at mealtimes, and not only does that mean it takes him longer to devour his morning meal (which is better for digestion) but I can tell he truly enjoys the challenge!

#5 West Paw Design Tux

As you can probably tell after making it through the first 4 in my list, we're pretty big Kong fans in our family (they're just SO tough!). But once Rusty has pretty much all of the Kong variations it was time to branch out, because I like to mix up his toy routine on a daily basis - I figure the more variety the less likely he is to get bored and chew up the wrong things. So after doing a lot of research online I decided to get him West Paw Design's Tux. And it was a great choice! That was over a year ago, and his Tux still looks like new. It's a bit more open in the center than the Kongs making it a little easier to get the treats/peanut butter out, but Rusty truly loves it. Even once he's gotten all of his goodies out he'll run around with it in his mouth playing, or even gnaw on it like a chew toy. Any toy that can withstand that is a winner in my book!

Which one is your dog's favorite?

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    • ShepherdLover profile image

      ShepherdLover 5 years ago from Portland, OR

      Thanks OregonWino, glad you liked the suggestions!

    • OregonWino profile image

      OregonWino 5 years ago

      Thank you for all of the great ideas! We are always looking for toys to keep our dog happy and you gave us some good ideas!

    • ShepherdLover profile image

      ShepherdLover 5 years ago from Portland, OR

      Thanks for your comments Sandy, I'm so sorry for your loss though I'm sure Harley had a wonderful life with you!

    • ShepherdLover profile image

      ShepherdLover 5 years ago from Portland, OR

      Thanks for your comments Dragonrain! It's definitely interesting how different toys work for different dogs, I'm glad the original Kong worked well for you too! Any others that were great for your dog?

    • SandyMcCollum profile image

      SandyMcCollum 5 years ago

      We got ours with the house - the previous owners had left it behind. Our dog, Harley, found it in the backyard and we didn't know what it was, exactly. But Harley chewed and bit that thing and it never, ever got damaged. Many times Harley can deflate a basketball in a matter of minutes. But that toy seemed indestructible and, sadly, it out-lived Harley, who succumbed to bone cancer a year ago. He was a black lab/hound mix. Best damn dog I ever had. RIP buddy!

    • Dragonrain profile image

      Dragonrain 5 years ago

      We love our original Kong in our house! Our dog of course because it's like a treat for him, and us because it keeps our hyper dog busy for awhile.

      I tried getting our dog a Kong Wubba after reading good reviews, but unfortunately it didn't meet our expectations. Our 20 lb dog chewed through the fabric tassels on the toy within I'd say the first half hour of getting the toy so we had to take it away from him.

      Nylabones are a no go here as well. They don't last my dog long and I worry about him ingesting the pieces he chews off.

      I'm glad you found toys/chews that work well for your dog though, even if not all of them work for mine! Good hub, voted up!