Whether you’re working from home, out in the park, playing with your dog, have a teething puppy or just want to give them something to keep them entertained when they’re bored – there are multiple reasons why you’d get dog toys for a Labrador Retriever.
As an active breed, Labs love to run about. But when that energy isn’t being burnt through walks in the park – toys can be a great way to relieve boredom and keep your Labrador occupied.
This article will look at the best dog toys for Labradors. We will discuss the types of dog toys available as well as the reasons toys can be so important for Labs of all ages.
Best Dog Toys for Labs – Our Top 10 Labrador Picks
1. RUFFWEAR Chew-Resistant Rubber Dog Toy
|RUFFWEAR Chew-Resistant Rubber Dog Toy, Floats on Water, One Size, Dandelion Yellow, Gnawt-a-Stick||Buy on Amazon|
This rubber throw toy is bright, strong, indestructible and chew-resistant. It can be used for fetching and general chewing and is incredibly resilient. Designed by Ruffwear (inspired by Oregon coastal driftwood), a company that is best known for its range of dog harnesses, this dog toy is made from durable natural latex rubber.
Available in a choice of three colours; Dandelion Yellow, Metolius Blue and Sockeye Red. Its brightly coloured rubber toy range makes it great for locating when playing games of fetch – it also floats for water-based fun.
2. RUFFWEAR Chew-Resistant Rubber Dog Toy, Food & Treat Dispenser
|RUFFWEAR Chew-Resistant Rubber Dog Toy, Food & Treat Dispenser, One Size, Metolius Blue,...||Buy on Amazon|
We love these types of treat dispensers, we’ve had several different types over the years, and they certainly keep dogs active, entertained and curious for a reasonable period.
The concept is simple: you fill the toy with small treats and leave the rest to your dog. Their mind and body will be stimulated as they roll the ball around the floor with their nose and paws trying to get each treat out of the hole.
See also the KONG Wobbler.
3. GUCHO Ultra Durable Dog Chew Toys for Aggressive Chewers
|Pet Raincoat,Dog Raincoat,Dog Raincoats Waterproof||Buy on Amazon|
4. KONG Classic Medium
|KONG Classic Medium Dog Toy - pack of 2 - for medium breeds (7-16kg)||Buy on Amazon|
We love the indestructable KONG Classic. Simple and effective – load the cone up with treats and peanut butter and your Lab will lick and chew its way through it for hours.
5. KONG – Tugger Knots Moose
|KONG - Tugger Knots Moose - Tug of War Dog Toy, Minimal Stuffing and Looped Ropes for added Strength...||Buy on Amazon|
6. PULLER Midi Interactive Dog Toy Fitness Tool Set
|PULLER Midi Interactive Dog Toy Fitness Tool Set, purple, 19.5 cm/8 in||Buy on Amazon|
7. Nina Ottoson Dog Brick Treat Puzzle Dog Toy by Outward Hound
|Outward Hound Nina Ottosson von Dog Brick - Interaktives Hundespielzeug für Leckerlis -...||Buy on Amazon|
One of the best sellers from this well-known brand, this brick treat puzzle is a good step towards enrichment for your dog. It features three different ways for your dog to find treats, so it should keep them occupied for a while.
The puzzle provides both mental and physical stimulation for your dog as they try to find a way to the treats hidden inside. There are 20 treat compartments, and the more you use, the harder the puzzle gets. Get creative and have some fun.
Once your dog figures out exactly how the puzzle works, it can still serve well as a quick brain teaser when you’re busy with something that doesn’t involve them.
8. Zicosy Snuffle Mat for Dogs [UK]
|Zicosy Snuffle Mat for Dogs- Feeding Mat for Dogs (12" x 18") - Grey Feeding Mat - Encourages...||Buy on Amazon|
USA and Canada readers can also check out the PAW5 Snuffle Mat
|Paw 5 Snuffle Mat for Dogs. Dog Mat (30 x 45cm) Dogs Toys for Boredom - Reduces Anxiety & Improves...||Buy on Amazon|
Snuffle mats encourage your dog’s natural desire for foraging, and allows them to do so in a safe and controlled way.
This mat will put your dog’s nose and brain to work as they hunt for food. Best used with dry food or dry treat, this snuffle mat is machine washable and dryer safe, so you’re welcome to experiment as well. Wet or raw food might be messy, though.
The snuffle mat can also be used to slow down fast eaters, which promotes better gut health. This mat is suitable, and sturdy enough, for all breeds, though you might need to weigh it down a little with dogs who are excitable or like to pick things up and shake them.
9. Chuckit Ultra Ball
|ChuckIt! Ultra Ball Dog Toy, Durable High Bounce Floating Rubber Dog Ball, Launcher Compatible Toy...||Buy on Amazon|
These bouncy balls have taken over most parks. We can see why as well, the well-coloured balls are easy for dogs to spot in the grass, they fit those ball launchers, and they bounce well against many surfaces. We use them to play squash with one of our dogs!
Made from rubber, these balls are built to last. Don’t give it to a power chewer, though! For those water-loving labradors, these balls will float in the water giving no chance of getting lost (unless your Labrador isn’t much of a retriever).
10. KONG – Dog Training Dummy
|KONG - Dog Training Dummy - Floats for Water Fetch Play and Training - For Large Dogs||Buy on Amazon|
This fantastic durable KONG dummy is a great tool to teach your dog a soft-mouth retrieve, exactly what labradors are supposed to be doing.
The dummy floats in the water so that it can be used in multiple training environments. If you’re not interested in gundog training, you can still have a lot of fun with this toy, including repurposing it for a quick game of tug.
Types of Dog Toys for Labradors
With retriever in the name, the most successful toys for labradors are often the toys which they can fetch, bring back (retrieve), hold in their mouth and usually ones that they can chew.
Labrador retrievers are usually fun and very active, they like running, swimming, fetch, carrying, digging and many other things.
Of course, each Labrador is different, and they might enjoy something else, so let’s look at what types of toys are there.
While you might say many items can be retrieved, which sure is true, these toys need to be carefully selected if you’re training your dog for retrieving tasks.
Whether your Labrador becomes a gundog, or you’re only training for fun, teaching a reliable retrieve is best done with a toy referred to as a dummy.
These toys will usually not have any floppy parts, or a squeaker, as those might end up encouraging behaviours not compatible with the training, e.g. shake or bite hard multiple times to activate the squeaker.
Tennis balls, rubber balls, footballs, and rugby balls, the choice is endless, and the perfect ball will depend on your Lab’s preference.
Many are perfectly happy with a simple tennis ball, while others go crazy for one of the colourful Chuckit balls. Rugby balls are a big hit as well due to their unpredictable path of bouncing around. Experiment a little and see what works best.
As the name suggests, these toys feed into your Labrador’s natural desire for chewing – they love to chew. Some dogs will be happy with a rubber ball, which they are allowed to destroy, but for something more durable, look for the likes of durable rubber bones or rings, edible chew toys, or perhaps a Kong Classic.
Squirrels, Rabbits, Ducks and all other types of animal like soft toys are always popular with dogs. Often with a squeaker, they will pull, squeak and chew on them.
I’ve never known a dog who doesn’t love them, but I’ve also never known a dog who hasn’t ripped them to pieces eventually. Great as a short term toy they will love, but don’t expect them to last too long.
While there aren’t as many of these toys around that are purely made for licking, licking is an essential behaviour for dogs.
It is often suggested that if you’re leaving your dogs for a short period, you provide them with a lickimat or a Kong Classic to keep their mind occupied and their body relaxed.
Licking helps dogs release stress hormones, and with something tasty in front of their mouth, your Labrador is sure to be happy to tuck in and forget all about missing you.
There is a wide range of toys and tools in this section. From feeders made to be used for each meal, particularly useful for dogs who eat too fast, to complex toys for Einstein dogs.
If you’re starting with mental stimulation for your dog, make sure you offer them something simple such as a snuffle mat. If you provide a challenging puzzle too soon, you might end up with a very frustrated dog, and neither of you will enjoy the experience.
Various companies create different levels of toys for progression, so make use of that. Sniffing is a great way to tire out your dog without increasing physical activity too much. This is particularly useful during rest times, bad weather and so on.
These are the toys where you interact with your dog the most. Something as simple as a rope toy for a good game of tug, or a set of the fantastic Puller Interactive rings, which provides a combination of both fetch, tug, and swapping games. Another very popular item here is a flirt pole, which increased in popularity recently.
Why Are Dog Toys Important?
While you might think toys are simply toys and they are just an optional part of your dog’s life, they are very important to your dog’s life and development.
Toys are fun! That is probably their primary purpose in this world. Dogs love toys! At least most of them do, and in some cases, you just haven’t found the right toy for the dog in question. Toys make dogs’ lives much more exciting.
During puppyhood, toys are not just something to use for playing games with your puppy, but also they are tools for learning.
They can be used by owners to teach your puppy some patience, redirect their nipping, and toys can even help with managing pain during teething.
Certain toys will also help manage your puppy’s chewing behaviours so that you can save your furniture and footwear.
Toys can provide proper mental stimulation for your dog too. Bored dogs with lots of energy will find something to do by themselves. Providing them with good toys, especially ones who will push their brain to work harder, will tire them out until they’re ready to go out for a walk.
Toys can also help your puppy or adult dog build some independence. Dogs are social animals, some more so than others, and they can suffer from separation anxiety.
While separation anxiety is something that needs to be carefully managed, ideally with some help from a trained professional, you can help them along the way with toys.
Toys which require your dog’s full attention, and can keep them occupied in one room, will help you slowly build up the time your dog can be separated from you. Be sure to be around your dog before they get bored with the toy.
Enrichment toys, such as snuffle mats promote your dog’s natural desire for foraging, sniffing and exploring. They are great for providing mental stimulation and promoting calmness.
A good sniffing game will likely tire your dog out more than a simple short walk.
Overall a good toy can help your dog relax. Playing can be a self-rewarding exercise for your dog, which keeps their stress levels low.
Finally, toys are not a substitute for your attention. They are much better than that; toys help strengthen the relationship between you and your pooch. Your dog will enjoy your company and love you more for all the fun you’re both having.
If you find your bedpost has been chewed, your shoes are in pieces, and random bits of furniture has been destroyed, your Labrador may be a disruptive chewer. We’ve covered some of these points earlier in the article and though pet toys may help – there can be several underlying causes.
- Your Lab is a puppy and is currently teathing
- The Labrador is bored or anxious
- They’re having separation anxiety, mainly when the dog owner goes away and leaves them alone in the home
- Your Labrador is in need or more training
- They don’t have enough around the house to naturally chew
Though toys can help, you should consider dog-proofing your home, more exercise, increased training and patience to help your dog overcome these disruptive behaviours.
You should never do the following if your dog displays these behaviours as it can cause both distress to your Labrador as well as not helping with the underlying problems:
- Scold or punish your dog for chewing
- Use a muzzle to stop the chewing
- Restrict your dogs mouth with tape
- Leave them locked in a crate for extended periods without stimulation
You must address undesirable chewing in a calm, constructive way – and if required – consult a professional dog behaviourist.
We hope this article has helped you in selecting the best dog toy for Labs. Whether they’re a puppy who is teething, a Labrador who’s a restless chewer or just in need of some entertainment while indoors – there are plenty of dog toys for alone or owner/dog play.
There are different types of dog toys to suit every requirement, and the benefits of using them can not only help gums, teeth, energy and boredom – but can aid in training your dog.