A toy that can be left in your dogs crate unsupervised needs to be sturdy and safe. Because there are so many chew styles out there, each of you will have to determine what is safe for your dog. Here are some of the best crate toys as well as what I do not like:
Not That: Tennis Balls or Hand Balls
Any ball that can easily be chewed in half is off the crate list. I’ll always remember the beautiful long-haired German Shepherd who died in his desperate human’s arms choking on a section of a tennis ball he had been gleefully destroying.
Use This: Sterilized Shin Bones, Antlers or Hard Dura-Chew Nylabones
Great for dogs who chew when they are bored or stressed. These are hard, long-lasting chews all of which I have personally used with my own dogs for decades without problems. That said, some people report their dog’s cracking teeth on such hard chews so know that going in. If that worries you, use the other toys listed in this blog.
Not That: Rawhide, Soft-Nylon Toys or Smoked Bones/Knuckle Bones
Rawhide is for supervised use only as some dogs can soften hunks then choke as they try to swallow it. The soft gummy nylon bones can be gnaws off in hunks that can lead to blockages. And some smoked bones break easily when chewed allowing a dog to eat the bone in minutes. That can make your dog sick in a few ways – none of them pleasant. Always supervise your dog with any new toy and if they can destroy it, remove it!
Use This: Kongs or West Paw
These are toys designed for chewing. Kongs are made for chew levels such as Extreme, Kong Blue (tough but chompable), Puppy and Senior. West Paws are guaranteed to hold up, though, as always, I would supervise the first few uses to make sure your dog is not some sort of near bionic exception.
Not That: Plush or Rope Toys
I love plush toys and every dog I’ve ever had loved them as well but plushies are for supervised play – only. That way you can remove it when your dog starts to destroy it. Destroying it is fun and your dog will get better at it with happy practice. This goes double for toys with batteries and/or hard plastic inside!
Rope toys have the same rules. Some dogs like to untie the knots then gnaw/swallow large wads of thread. That is bad. Don’t let them do that.
I hope this helps you find the best crate toys for your dogs. Report back and let me know your experience.