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Top Toys for Dogs With High Prey Drive
What is Prey Drive?
Prey drive is a natural instinct in many carnivorous animals, dogs included. It is the instinct to search out, chase and capture prey. And even in family dogs who most likely will never have to forage and hunt for their own meals in the wild, this natural animal instinct can remain strong. The degree of prey drive varies considerably from dog to dog though.
Certain breeds are predisposed to having higher prey drive than others, and then as any dog parent knows each dog is an individual and even within a breed dogs' levels of prey drive can vary considerably.
Some Breeds Predisposed to High Prey Drive
- Alaskan Malamute
- German Shepherd
- Basset Hound
- Italian Greyhound
- Japanese Chin
Toy Suggestions to Stimulate the Interests of Dogs with High Prey Drive
All family dogs need fun toys to play with, and looking at your dog's personality characteristics can certainly help you to guess which types of toys might be most fulfilling (and enjoyable!) for him or her. My dog Rusty (a German Shepherd mix) has quite the high prey drive - something I first noticed the very first time we went on a walk together after I adopted him, when he dragged me halfway across a neighbor's yard in pursuit of a squirrel. Needless to say we've worked on his on leash walking considerably since then, with much improvement. :) I've also done a bit of research on good toys to channel the prey driven energy of dogs like Rusty. The following are his favorites.
Top Five Toys For Dogs With High Prey Drive
5. Fishing Pole Style Chase Toys
These toys play perfectly into your high prey drive dog's desire to chase and catch prey. And the nice thing for the dog owner is these toys don't make you work too hard to play with your dog. I often will use this toy with my German Shepherd mix Rusty while doing something else - so I can multi-task and get something done, while giving him a little extra play time. Of course he loves it even more when I give our games my full attention, making the 'prey' on the end of the fishing pole hide or challenge him a little more intensely.
4. Squeaking Stuffed Animal Toys
Besides being soft, cuddly and comforting as plush toys are for many types of dogs, for your high prey drive dog a stuffed animal that squeaks will also excite him and help him exercise his natural instincts. Rusty absolutely loves anything that squeaks, and that's likely at least partially due to the squeaking being reminiscent of the sounds his 'prey' might make in the wild. Rusty has many squeaky plush toys, and he loves them all. We play fetch with them, and he'll even toss them up into the air and chase them on his own. After he catches his 'prey' he loves to run triumphantly through the house squeaking it to his heart's content.
The Kong Beaver (pictured above) is one of Rusy's current favorites. It's one of mine too because it comes with easy to replace extra squeakers - and Rusty will typically wear the squeaker out on his toys before the toy would have otherwise been too worn to play with anymore (at which point Rusty's interest in the toy drastically decreases).
3. Interactive Toys to Play the 'Find It' Game
Kyjen and Nina Ottosson make some of mine and Rusty's favorite versions. These toys don't provide your dog as much of a physical energy outlet as some of the others on my list, but they're a great mental challenge. And when aiming to tire your dog out, and more importantly aiming to increase his quality of life, mental exercise is definitely just as important as physical. Using his brain to find and seek out stuffed 'prey' is a great challenge for your dog, and these toys are designed to be used solely interactively (human and dog together) so they provide for great bonding as well. Don't leave your dog unsupervised with most of these type of toys, as they're way to easy to rip apart and become hazards to him!
2. Rope Toys / Other Tug Toys
Tug of war is great way for a high prey drive dog to expand some energy and let off a little steam. It's one of Rusty's favorite games to play. We often play with rope toys, which have the benefit of being rather inexpensive (nice, as Rusty's sharp teeth and exuberant play style mean we replace them often). The Kong Tugga Wubba is a great rope style toy but it tends to last much longer. And Rusty also loves to play tug of war with his classic Wubba - though not designed solely as a tug toy, Rusty loves that this one also includes a squeaker.
1. Tennis Ball/Rope Toy Combo Toy
These toys are great as they combine the fun game of tug of war, with a bouncy erratic ball that can be used for an excited game of chase. Rusty loves the way we can switch back and forth between tug and chase with this toy. He burns off a ton of energy, has to stay mentally focused as we switch from task to task, and has a great time doing it.