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Are all dog toys created equal?

dog with a ball

New research suggests not!  It has shed light on why dogs find some toys boring very quickly, while others become firm favourites.  The study, by a research team at the University of Bristol’s Veterinary School, found that dogs will view toys in the same way that wolves perceive prey – they prefer those that either taste like food or can be ripped apart!

Co-author of the study, Anne Pullen, said that dogs toys should be “soft, easily manipulable toys that can be chewed easily and/or make a noise.

Toys that quickly cause boredom, on the other hand, are those with hard, unyielding surfaces and those that do not make a noise when manipulated.

However, as no single toy characteristic altered the test results much, it was suggested that growing accustomed to the stimulus qualities of a toy – whether smell, sound, colour or texture – is what most often causes dogs boredom.

Co-author John Bradshaw explained: “For an animal as social as a dog, toys only become really existing when they are part of a game with a person. Few toys will sustain a dog’s interest for long if the owner is not around to offer encouragement.

“If a dog has to be left on its own, it is most likely to enjoy toys that can be chewed, make a noise when played with, or are designed to be eaten as they disintegrate (such as a chew).

The study is published in Animal Cognition.

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