Dogs love to chase. It’s in their DNA as hunters to want to run after things. Chasing toys is a great way to engage your dog’s natural instincts in a fun, rewarding way. It provides mental stimulation, and physical exercise, and strengthens your bond through play.
This guide will explore some of the best dog-chasing toys to use outside, things to consider when choosing a toy, and tips for maximizing chasing playtime.
Why Chasing Toys Are Important
Chasing toys satisfies a dog’s primal urge to hunt. They allow your dog to act on their natural instincts in a safe, controlled way. The benefits of chasing toys include:
Dogs get a great workout galloping after toys. It builds their stamina, strengthens muscles, and keeps them in good cardiovascular health.
Having to think about where the toy will go next, how to catch it, etc. provides important mental stimulation to keep your dog sharp.
Chasing toys together creates a shared experience of play and fun between you and your pup.
For high-energy dogs, the exertion of chase play allows them to work off steam and relax.
Challenging your dog’s body and mind with chasing toys has many advantages!
Best Toys for Outside Chasing
When selecting chasing toys for outside play, you want toys that are visible, interesting, and safe in large open spaces. Key factors to consider are visibility, unpredictability, safety, and durability.
The toy needs to stand out against grass, dirt, or other outdoor surfaces so your dog can see it while running. Bright fluorescent colors are best for visibility. Toys that light up or flash help grab your dog’s attention. Reflective fabric is another good option.
Unpredictable movement triggers your dog’s prey drive. erratic bouncing, zigzagging, or whipping actions imitate the ways real prey would flee and excite your dog to chase. Toys that you can throw to give them an irregular bouncy trajectory are ideal.
Look for larger balls and discs that are too big to be choking hazards. Avoid toys with small removable parts that could come off and be swallowed. Soft fabric or plastic is gentler on your dog’s mouth during retrieval.
Outdoor toys need to withstand rough play, dirt, mud and moisture. Hard plastic or rubber stands up best to repeated chasing and chomping. Avoid toys stuffed with fluff or squeakers, which dogs can tear open.
Given these considerations, here are some top outdoor chasing toys:
Ball launchers are excellent interactive chasing toys for the outdoors. Spring-loaded manual launchers let you throw balls much farther than with your arm alone, giving your dog an intense sprinting workout.
Automatic ball launchers can be programmed to launch balls at different distances and heights to keep your dog on its toes. The added excitement of not knowing where the ball will fly makes your dog run full-tilt. Just be sure to use regular balls that are too big to swallow.
Bounce and Squeak Toys
These hard rubber balls and discs have an erratic bounce that keeps your dog guessing where they’ll end up next. Squeakers add to the prey’s interest. Brands like the Chuckit! Ultra Ball and West Paw Zogoflex Zisc are durable, bouncy, and visible for endless chasing entertainment. They also float for water play.
Fling toys are made of stretchy rubber loops or ropes that you grasp on each end and then sling through the air. Your dog will joyfully race after the flopping, and dancing movements. Brands like the Nerf Dog Squeakin’ Flingshot or Hurley Dog Bone Fling Fetch Toy have oversized designs for easy pickup and safety.
A good game of tug not only allows chasing as your dog tries to capture the toy but also lets them indulge their natural shake and tear instincts. Tough tug toys like rough braided ropes or hard rubber rings satisfy both the chase and chew drive. Just be sure to establish rules so your dog knows when to release the toy to you.
Electronic Moving Toys
For the ultimate game of chase, electronic moving toys zip and dash around on their own in unpredictable patterns that drive dogs wild. The PetDroid Boltz Dog Toy darts around on mini wheels. The PipSqueak Zoomzoom Dog Toy looks like a furry mouse scurrying randomly across the floor. These provide interactive chasing brain and body engagement.
Now that you know about some excellent chasing toy options, let’s go over some tips for playing chase games outside to keep it fun and safe.
Tips for Playing Chase Games
Chasing games satisfies your dog’s instincts but requires some planning to set your dog up for success. Here are some tips:
Use Long Leads
Attach a 20-30 foot leash so your dog has room to run but you can still reel them in if needed. This prevents dangerous off-property chasing if your recall skills need work. Start training recall commands like “come” while on the leash until your dog has a solid return.
Play in Enclosed Spaces
Fenced yards, tennis courts, or dog parks contain your play area safely away from roads and other hazards. Open parks can work if they’re large and empty enough without major nearby streets.
Consider Your Dog’s Limitations
Know your dog’s physical limits and don’t overdo chase time if they have arthritis, breathing issues, or heart problems. Providing mental stimulation without overexertion is important. Adjust toy distances and speeds accordingly.
Use Chase Games to Reinforce Training
Have your dog sit and stay until you release them to chase the thrown toy using their name or a “go get it!” command. This strengthens impulse control. Ask for a trick like spinning or speaking before launching a toy to reinforce skills.
Make It Random and Fun
Vary your pace, throwing style, direction, and frequency. Fun surprises like double throws in quick succession or rolling ground skips versus high-arcing throws make your dog’s chasing experience more engaging and fulfilling.
Reward with Rest
Alternate short bursts of high-energy chasing with periods of lower activity like sniffing and gentle praise to avoid overexertion. Your dog will recharge for the next round of fun.
Proper preparation, safety measures, watchful monitoring and peppering in training will ensure vigorous chasing toy play remains a positive experience that mentally and physically fulfills your dog’s needs.
A stimulating chasing game is a win-win for you and your energetic pup. Chasing satisfies your dog’s hardwired instincts while providing the focused interaction and exercise they crave.
Selecting the right outdoor chasing toys tailored to your dog’s abilities, playing responsibly, and making chase time a fun bonding experience will lead to a happy, fulfilled canine companion.
So grab your favorite flying toy or automatic ball launcher and go have an enriching time chasing your dog today! Their inner hunter will be thrilled to join in a game that stimulates both the body and mind.
Staying engaged with your dog through activities like chase play strengthens your friendship and keeps them mentally and physically fit. So get out and play, laugh, and bond over a good game of chase!