Fetch is a classic game that most dogs love to play. However, some dogs need more than just fetching a ball or stick to stay engaged and get their exercise. This is where chase toys come in handy! Chase toys tap into dogs’ natural prey drive instincts to chase, pounce, and play.
In this blog post, we’ll take a deep dive into the world of dog chase toys, and their benefits, and provide tips on how to choose the best options for your pup.
What Are Chase Toys?
Chase toys are designed to activate a dog’s prey drive by encouraging them to chase after a moving object. The key to a good chase toy is movement and unpredictability.
Many have irregular movements that dogs will find inherently enjoyable to run after. Chase toys come in many forms, but some of the most popular include:
These toys wobble, jerk, and slide unpredictably across the floor. The erratic movements mimic the motility of small prey animals and drive dogs wild. Popular wobbling toys include the Squirrel Dude and Kong Wobbler.
Flirt poles consist of a pole, string, and lure attached to the end. The lure is usually made of an enticing material like fleece or hide and waved around by the human while the dog chases after it. Flirt poles allow interactive chase play between dog and owner.
These balls have small openings to place treats or kibble inside. As the dog pushes the ball around, treats randomly fall out, keeping the dog engaged and chasing after the rewards. Food puzzle toys like the Kong Wobbler and Starmark Bob-A-Lot are examples.
Plush Toys with Internal Squeakers
The internal squeaker triggers a dog’s prey drive when squeezed or moved around. Plush toys often have odd shapes which make squeaking unpredictable as they tumble and slide. Popular squeaky toys include Mutt Mania pigs, Chipmunks, Hedgehogs, and more.
Benefits of Chase Toys
Chase toys provide a wealth of benefits beyond just physical activity. Here are some of the top reasons to use them:
Dogs need mental exercise as much as physical. Having to continually chase after unpredictable movements and sounds provides important cognitive stimulation. Treating dispensing toys also engages their problem-solving skills.
Anxiety and Boredom Reduction
Chase toys help dogs release pent-up energy and stress. Physical exertion can calm anxiety while mental focus reduces boredom-related behaviors like inappropriate chewing.
Bonding and Engagement
Chasing a flirt pole is a mutually engaging activity for dogs and owners. Taking the time to play together strengthens the human-animal bond. Dogs also associate the toy with that special playtime.
The vigorous movement involved in chasing after erratic toys provides dogs with much-needed exercise. This helps keep their bodies fit and muscles toned.
Choosing the Best Chase Toys
With so many chase toys on the market, how do you choose the right options? Here are some tips for selecting the best toys to match your dog’s needs:
High-energy dogs need the most vigorously erratic toys to keep them occupied. Low-energy dogs may prefer soft squeaky plush toys they can lightly chase after. Match toy difficulty to your dog’s exercise requirements.
Aggressive chewers need durable chase toys made of hard materials like thick rubber. For soft-mouthed dogs, plush toys work well. Get toys designed specifically for tough chewing if needed.
Look for chase toys in appropriate dog size ranges. Small breeds should use mini or small sizes. Large breeds need bigger toys they can grip and pick up in their mouths. Proper sizing reduces injury risks.
If your dog likes to play fetch, look for rolling treat balls they can chase after. Dogs who interact best with owner involvement will enjoy flirting pole-type toys.
Indoor vs. Outdoor
Outdoor chase toys need bright colors and heavy materials to stand up to the elements. Indoor toys can have lighter fabrics and smaller parts since they’re under supervision.
While chasing toys provides great benefits, there are also some safety precautions to keep in mind:
- Supervise use at all times to prevent choking hazards or ingestion of toy parts
- Avoid toys with small, removable plastic parts that could come off and be swallowed
- Check toys frequently for damage and discard or repair if any appears
- Remove balls/toys if they become slimy or slippery to prevent choking risks
- Select appropriate size toys and monitor to avoid eye injuries from poking
- Be sure toys are made of non-toxic materials in case of chewing or digestion
- Rotate toys to keep dogs interested and avoid obsessive behaviors around one toy
Fun Chase Toys to Try
Ready to add some exciting chase toys to your dog’s life? Here are some top-rated options to explore:
West Paw Zogoflex Zisc
This lightweight flying disc glides smoothly and erratically through the air, ideal for chase and catch. It’s soft on dogs’ mouths but still sturdy. Comes in different sizes to choose from.
Outward Hound Tail Teaser
Whip this flexible “tail” around and watch your dog take chase after it! The manufacturer claims the motions tap into prey drive response. Has a fuzzy section dogs love to bite down on.
Chuckit! Paraflight Dog Toy
The unique design of this fetch toy allows it to soar long distances before floating gently back to the ground. Dogs eagerly run after it as it drifts through the air. Great for outdoor play.
Pet Zone Dancing Cat Toy
This plush cat toy jiggles and bounces in crazy ways that drive dogs bonkers. Its odd shape makes the movements very enticing. The soft plush is gentle on teeth.
ZippyPaws Squeakers No Stuffing Dog Toys
These plush toys have loud internal squeakers with no stuffing to remove. The hedgehog and other critter shapes tumble unpredictably to make the squeaks come out at random.
Chase toys tap into dogs’ natural instincts in a healthy way, providing the mental and physical stimulation they crave. When selected and used properly, they can greatly improve a dog’s quality of life.
From wobbling balls to flirt poles and everything in between, there’s a whole world of dog-chasing toys out there waiting to be explored. With so many options, you’re sure to find the perfect toys to keep your pup engaged and happy.
Just be sure to keep safety in mind, and you’ll both enjoy countless hours of high-quality playtime together.