Dog Toys for a Toy Lover… on a Budget?!

We have a vizsla. More specifically, MadDogge is a 60lb male vizsla that loves toys more than any dog should. We got him when he was just a young puppy and have had him ever since. When I first learned how much MadDogge loved toys, we had a hard time keeping up with his demand. He could tear up a box of toys before you could blink. Over time we learned a few things and he calmed down (teething was awful). If you are having trouble keeping you pet entertained on a budget, you’ve come to the right place. Tip #1: Don’t shop at Petsmart.

MadDogge Funny Face Blurry
Even at 6 weeks he had a personality.

I have had and been around dogs over half of my life. When I was young I got a Beagle (he’s 15 now, lives with my dad), when I was in high school my parents got Labs, and now we have a Vizsla. MadMan wasn’t any different from me. MadMan’s parents have a Britney and a mutt that they have had since MadMan was in middle school. This being said, we have a slight bias towards  large dogs that perform tasks like hunting. For this reason, we have a good deal of experience in dogs that tear up everything. (hunting dogs like to have fun, what can we say?) I am going to give you the lowdown on how many toys to leave out, what kind of toys to get, where to get the best toys, toys that dispense food, and how to train your dog not to eat your shoe.



How Many Toys Do I Leave Out?

Jul 2017 (4)
He just moves to fast to get a good photo.

This was the biggest problem question I had to deal with when we got MadDogge. If I left out to many, he would drag them all over the house but only play with two. (Then I would step on them and hurt my feet. Not an option.) If I left out to few, he would be bored and mess with things that he shouldn’t. (Also not an option.) Over time and lots of experimentation I found that having anywhere from 8 to 12 would make him the most happy. I could rotate these toys weekly and to him, he got “new” toys every week and never got bored with one toy in particular.

**While they remember a toy when it gets rotated back in, they are often as happy as when they got it the first time. Don’t know why, but it’s true. Do you know why this is the case?

It’s important to think about what toys you are leaving out. When picking toys, make sure you have at least one of each of these kinds: pull toys, chew toys, destroy toys, puzzle toys, squeaky toys, and food toys. If you have one of each of these, your dog will have all the kinds of stimulation that they could possible need. I learned this the hard way. MadDogge loves toys he can toss around. If he doesn’t have a soft tear up toy, he tosses around rubber toys, which is not good for the condition of my house.

How Many Toys Do I Have Overall?

I think, right now, I have about 40 toys. These range in size, cost, and type from the cheap and squeaky to the expensive and tough. While the 12 that I leave out are in the living room, these are hidden in a box in our closet. MadDogge is well aware of this and will stand by the door if he wants a new toy. (He still doesn’t get one, though it is impressive.) Where do I get all these toys? How Much? Good questions.

Toys don’t have to be expensive.

MadDogge frowning
He doesn’t know the difference between a $1 toy and a $20 toy. To him they’re both thrilling.

I have tried getting toys from all over the place. I have gotten toys from the dollar store (never a good idea), Bullymake (bad experience), Petsmart, and Burlington Coat Factory. The last one is the only place I regularly shop for dog toys now. I can get dog toys for $1 or $2 when they have the same quality as the $10 Petsmart toys. I will still go to Petsmart on a rare occasion (big toy that wont tear apart) but overall MadDogge’s toys are from Burlington.

Bullymake: This is a subscription based company that sends toys that “won’t tear up.” We got this for four months before requesting our money back. Each month they were sending more and more plastic toys that not only tore up fast, but were hurting our dog. Other’s have had wonderful; experiences, we just did not. If you have about $30 a month and the desire to get new toys each month, I would give it a shot. They also have a box that treats can come with, though that’s not the one we got.


Silly Dog. Shoes aren’t toys. Or Pillows…

MadDogge as a Puppers
A sleeping MadDogge – May 2016

The above photo was taken a few days after we got MadDogge.
It was the first time he had spent more than a few hours away from me.
He got upset and fell asleep on my shoes then my mom took this photo. 

MadDogge never had this problem, though past dogs we’ve had have. The best advice is to puppy proof your home from a young age. If they don’t see the objects they aren’t supposed to have, then they won’t eat them. As they get older, you can leave your shoes out but you must train the to “leave it.” They will learn in time that this is something that should be left where it is and the toys they have been given are much better for them. If you start with an older dog, start with step 2.

Steps: 

  1. Keep everything away from puppy until at least 4 months old. I mean REALLY puppy proof your home.
  2. If shoes gets left out, let the puppy sniff them.
    1. If the puppy walks away without touching, give reward.
    2. If the puppy tries to bite shoe, say no.
  3. When the puppy walks away give a toy and praise.

These steps are about the dog making the right decision. If you let them make the decision to walk away they will learn much quicker than if you reprimanded then for even sniffing the shoe.

Note: This tip will work for anything from food to shoes. It’s a way that dogs learn. MadDogge is now trained to only go for his toys. He never tries to get our food, shoes, towel, or anything else laying on the ground. (The cat is fair game)


MadDogge with a new toy.
He loves these fire hose toys.

What is your dog’s favorite toy?
How many toys does your dog have?

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