So you finally got your dream puppy.
What about toys? Puppies need toys – play things stimulate their minds, relieve boredom, help them learn, and most important, give their needle-sharp teeth an outlet beside your flesh.
We examined the various types of toys and features that make them attractive and suitable for puppies. A review of five top products follows to help you specifically determine the best toys for lab puppies.
Quick Picks: The 5 Top-Rated Lab Puppy Toys
Last update on 2020-03-26 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
Check our best pick above, or keep reading for product reviews and buying guide!
What are the Different Types of Dog Toys?
Toys satisfy different playtime needs for your puppy, depending on his age, your goals for him, and your availability to engage with him.
Distraction toys do not require your presence to entertain your dog but make sure you determine how your dog handles a specific toy or treat before you decide it is safe to leave him unattended.
You do not want him to chew a plastic bone in half and leave jagged edges or chew a plastic ball into a dozen small pieces.
Food delivery toys – provide a built-in reward system for your puppy. These gadgets are also appropriate for older dogs and may even help with behavioral issues such as bolting food and destructive behaviors associated with separation anxiety. You insert dry kibble or treats into the toy, and your pet must work out how to retrieve it.
Puzzle toys – are similar to food delivery toys but even more complex. Your puppy will not only need to maneuver the toy with his mouth to get a morsel of food. He will need to solve some form of a problem to get his reward.
Chew toys – allow your puppy quiet time to himself to focus on something entirely his. Chewing may relieve pain from teething. However, chewing is a normal behavior for dogs of all ages. Beyond exercising their jaws, it soothes them, reduces stress, and is the way they explore objects in their world. Providing objects for your puppy to chew is possible insurance against him chewing your favorite sleepers.
Even chew toys come in a few varieties:
Dental chew toys – can break, and your pup may safely eat these pieces. As the name would suggest, these toys were originally intended to help with dental hygiene. The act of chewing is essential to jaw strength in dogs which correlates with dental health.
Hard rubber hollow toys – usually have holes at either end. They are designed so you can put food inside to encourage your puppy to start chewing them. Otherwise, it is just a sterile chunk of rubber for your dog.
Chew challenge toys – are similar to dental chews, but they are more difficult to break into pieces. The goal is to provide your puppy with potentially hours of entertainment.
You probably do not remember carrying a pacifier around when you were a toddler. But now maybe you turn to a favorite TV show for comfort. Dogs find comfort in familiar things as well, and toys can satisfy this need.
Stuffed toys – are suitable both for dogs who like to carry stuff everywhere with them and puppies who want to practice killing everything. Depending on what type of personality you are dealing with, you need to find a soft toy of an appropriate size. It should be easy for your pup to lift and carry but not so small he could swallow it or choke on it.
Comfort toys – true comfort toys will often be simply an article with your scent on it. Have you ever left an old shirt with your dog at the veterinary hospital during an overnight stay? Pillowcases and blankets all serve the same purpose for your pup.
Finally, an interactive toy is a compelling reason to have a dog in the first place.
Fetch toys – can be anything that your puppy is interested in chasing. Frisbees, soft flying disks, tennis balls, and ragged dolls can be a great source of enjoyment for you and your puppy all the way into adulthood.
Tug-of-war toys – we do not recommend tug-of-war games with rope toys since they encourage aggressive behavior in dogs. Also, as dogs seek to re-grip to gain better purchase, they can accidentally bite your hand or another dog at the other end of the rope.
What Features of Dog Toys Make Them Suitable for Puppies?
Toys must be of an appropriate size for age and breed of the puppy and for its purpose. If the toy will be carried around by a two-month-old Labrador puppy, it should fit comfortably in his mouth. At the same time, he should not be able to engulf and swallow it. Aim for lightweight and bulky.
If your puppy shakes toys like he wants to kill them, the SPCA recommends they be the size of real-life prey. A very small lab puppy may need a toy the size of a gopher, whereas a large eight-month-old puppy would need something closer to a rabbit or goose in size.
The shape does not seem to matter to puppies and dogs as the ability to fit a toy comfortably into their mouths. When it comes to toys, puppies especially are more orally oriented than visually inspired. Fun shapes are often for our benefits.
Do you think colors do not matter to dogs? For the most part, you may be right. With the exception that dogs cannot become fully interested in something to play with if they do not see it.
Although on a much smaller scale than ourselves, dogs do see colors. Where we see reds, oranges, yellows, greens, blues, and purples, dogs only see browns, yellows, grays, and blues. Perhaps scrap the red balls.
You will have to test your dog’s preferences, but many pups seem to like blue and yellow toys best. These are probably most visible to dogs as they contrast with the surroundings.
At six weeks of age, a Labrador retriever and a miniature poodle may be able to enjoy the same toys, but the landscape will change dramatically in four months for a lab.
By the time a Labrador puppy is six months old, he will be at least 15 inches tall at the shoulder and weigh 40 pounds. You must take into account size and strength variations when it comes to selecting toys for large-breed pups like labs.
You should keep all your pup’s toys in good working order.
Make sure to inspect your puppy’s toys on a regular basis. Make sure your dog has not broken small pieces off his toy that he can swallow.
Ensure the stuffing is not unraveling where it could pose a choking or toxic hazard. In my experience over the years, I have not seen a toy that is truly indestructible.
Make sure to keep all toys reasonably clean.
What are the Best Toys for Lab Puppies?
These rope toys come in various shapes, including rope balls. They can serve as either distraction or interactive toys. Some dogs prefer the texture of rope in their mouths to bone or wood. Do you have a problem with your puppy chewing on the carpet or furniture upholstery? He may accept rope as a fine alternative.
Rope often involves heavy chewing activity. It works great for puppies and dogs known to be aggressive chewers. The benefits of such chewing are stronger jaws and gums, supporting healthier tooth growth and health.
- Provides a good chewing outlet and great chewing exercise for your puppy.
- You can also use it to play fetch with your dog, or he may engage in predatory activities with it.
- Good quality cotton and floss fabric makes it more durable than other similar toys.
- A variety of shapes and multiple toys provide great day-to-day options for puppies who may become quickly bored.
- Puppies usually take easily to them because they are easy to grip.
- Once the toy starts to fall apart, your dog may ingest too many strings that he pulls off. Supervise chewing, especially as the toy starts to exhibit signs of wear.
- Tug of war games between dogs can build bonds and establish pack structures, but they can also lead to severe fights.
I would have loved to have one of these when my dogs were very small pups. A SmartPetLove Snuggle toy is for me the ultimate comfort toy. It is essentially artificial intimacy with a heartbeat and everything packaged into what looks like a real-life puppy friend.
The greatest use for this toy is likely when your puppy first arrives home and experiences separation anxiety from his previous household or his littermates. However, your pet may find ongoing comfort from it for years to come.
- Warmth and a pulsing heartbeat can create comfort for your puppy and make him feel he is still with a littermate.
- The toy provides physical comfort to enable your puppy to rest and sleep.
- It is machine washable.
- The heat pack lasts 24 hours, is safe for animals and people, and is disposable.
- May reduce howling, whining, and barking associated with anxiety.
- Some puppies do not like this form of a friend. They may find the heartbeat or other aspects of the toy objectionable.
- It operates by battery and mechanical failures can be an issue.
- Dogs may become dependent on it for relieving anxiety.
Nothing says fun to a puppy quite like food. Turning a toy into a food dispensary rewards pups for occupying themselves with the toy. When your puppy would rather chew on your shoes, food may be a nice motivator to transfer his preference to a plastic relatively boring apparatus.
Binkie is a fitting term because the material in these Kong toys is more flexible and yielding than usual. Kong creates puppy Binkies for the small needle-sharp teeth and sensitive gums of very young pups. I would have loved to have something like this for my pups when I was training them to stay home alone.
- The soft rubber material is especially designed for teething pain.
- A built-in food dispenser gives positive reinforcement for chewing on “acceptable” items.
- Depending on what types of food materials you use, you can provide hours of entertainment for your puppy.
- Toys like these engage your puppy’s mind, enhancing development.
- Its material design and pacifier make it sturdy as well as soothing to sore gums; it is a good toy for teething puppies.
- It can be tossed or picked up and is also a good distraction toy.
- Breeds with narrower snouts may struggle to get their mouths around it. Lab pups should have no issues.
- Dogs that are not very food-motivated may not take to it.
- The food dispenser may be difficult to clean.
Nylabone makes an assorted collection of chew toys designed for puppies under 25 pounds. Each selection is an excellent choice of a distraction toy for young lab puppies probably around six to twelve weeks old. Nevertheless, there are flavored dog chews and a Dino toy, so a little something for all ages.
Here you basically create your own puppy starter pack from various options. Along with the T-Rex toy, there are teething pacifiers, chicken-flavored chew toys, and bacon-flavored puppy treats for pups.
- You can design your own starter pack of chew toys and treats.
- Flavored toys encourage appropriate chewing by your puppy.
- The pacifier is made with natural rubber, a pliable material that massages the gums and is soothing for teething puppies. Bristles actually arise during chewing to facilitate tooth and gum health.
- The Dino is a dental chew toy with raised bumps that also helps with teething discomfort.
- Nylabone adds DHA and omega-3 fatty acids to benefit your pup’s young brain and developing eyesight.
- Watch size guidelines. There was a report of a teething ring getting caught around a puppy’s lower jaw.
- Some of the chews may not last long for more powerful bites.
- Although meant to be safe to ingest, larger pieces can wreak havoc on the digestive tract if swallowed whole.
ZippyPaws features toys that come in three different characters. If your puppy likes animal-like plush toys or stuffed animals, this choice may be ideal for you both. It can fit two of the categories of toys: interactive and comfort.
While they do not stand up well to steady chewing, they are a dream come true for the predatory puppy who likes to toss, rip, and fetch.
Each animal is about 18 inches in length. You can choose between a fox, a squirrel, or a raccoon.
- 100 percent stuffing free so these toys are less messy than typically stuffed toys.
- Each toy has not one but three squeakers.
- The size of each toy is great for medium-sized pets. This would be good if your lab puppy is between three and five months of age.
- These toys are highly durable, especially for a stuffed toy premise.
- They are aesthetically pleasing for you, but dogs do take a keen interest in them.
- Large dogs may ingest these toys.
- They are not suitable for unsupervised play.
- If your dog does get to the squeakers, they may be small enough to pose a choking hazard in smaller dogs. They could be a foreign body concern for a larger dog.
Taking into consideration our past puppy experiences and careful research, KONG – Puppy Binkie – Soft Teething Rubber, Treat Dispensing Dog Toy came out as the clear winner among the products we reviewed.
Kong provides uniform and consistency in quality of materials. They also place emphasis on suitability for dogs and seem to have an intuition for what fits canine behavior. Although I did witness one Kong toy get destroyed by a dog, overall the safety of their products is unparalleled.
We were quite impressed by the SmartPetLove Snuggle Puppy Behavioral Aid Toy for its innovative approach to the comfort toy niche and its effectiveness in anxiety issues.
The other toys we reviewed had high quality and usefulness and resonated well with most customers.
Kong has a long history of creating dog products they make the best toys for lab puppies based on quality, safety, utility, and customer satisfaction.