10 Toys to Help Your Dog Exercise

All dogs need exercise no matter what their size or breed. Regular physical activity can reduce behavior problems like chewing and excessive barking. It also helps them to stay fit and slim as they age rather than slowing down and becoming overweight. Many dogs were originally bred to work alongside humans, so most enjoy exercise, but some need a little more encouragement than others. If your dog would rather stand beside you than run around when you go to the park, you can use toys to encourage him to be active. My two dogs love to chase other pets at the dog park, but if we're hanging out in the backyard at home, they tend to stand around and stare at me instead of running. To get them moving, I've tried lots of different toys. Here are 10 of the best toys that encourage dogs to exercise.
Chuckit! Ball Launcher: You can only throw a tennis ball so far unless you're a professional pitcher. For the rest of us, there's Chuckit! This ball launcher, which looks like pole with a small scoop at one end, allows you to throw a ball three times farther than normal. The scoop also lets you retrieve the ball without actually touching it, which is great if your dog tends to slobber or chew on balls. At my house, we always go for the Chuckit! Ultra Balls because they are indestructible, not something that can be said of a standard tennis ball.

Bad Cuz Rubber Dog Toy: The Bad Cuz looks like a strange creature but it's really a super durable squeak toy with the ability to bounce in a totally random way. Because of the feet on the bottom, this "ball" doesn't move like regular balls do. It keeps a dog's attention because they never know which way it's going to go. Don't leave this one lying around unattended though, some tenacious dogs can chew off the feet, which pose a choking hazard.

Hol-ee Roller: Some dogs prefer to play with bigger balls but they can be challenging to pick up if they're too big. The Hol-ee Roller solves this problem with its hexagonal cut outs that make it light-weight, easy to throw and easy for any dog to retrieve. Made of natural rubber, the Hol-ee Roller can also be used as a teething toy for puppies. This ball comes in several sizes. The smaller ones can be used to hold treats to keep a dog occupied when you're busy or leave the house.

KONG Rubber Flyer Dog Toy: KONG is known for making indestructible dog toys and they've expanded they're range to include a Frisbee-style throwing disc. The soft rubber won't hurt your dog's teeth or gums when they catch it and the shape is designed to sail through the air for long distances encouraging your pet to run at top speed.

Būmi Dog Toy: This unusual looking toy has many uses. It's made of a durable, but extremely pliable, material that stands up to chewing, which makes it a perfect tug-of-war toy for two-dog families. For dogs that enjoy water, the Būmi floats so it can be used to play aquatic fetch (as well as regular old fetch). What's even better is that the company stands by the durability with a one-time free replacement if your dog manages to destroy the toy.

Playser Laser Light Toy: Cats are known to enjoy chasing laser light points, but many dogs like them, too. Make sure you have plenty of empty space for the dog to move around if you're going to use this indoors. The Playser is different from most laser toys because instead of a single point of light, it offers 12 different images that you can project on the walls and floor. Experiment to see which one your pet likes the best.

Jolly Pet Push-n-Play
: This extra large and largely indestructible ball is perfect for herding dogs with an instinct to push. The ball is too large for dogs to get into their mouths so they can't chew it up. It's made of very hard plastic, but is light enough for you to roll or toss to your pet, though some dogs are content to roll it around the yard all by themselves. You can kick this ball, but be sure to use the side of your foot or you'll hurt your toes.

Dog Agility Training Tunnel: Even if you're not into serious agility training, you can still have a lot of fun and help your dog get some great exercise with a portable tunnel. It may take your dog a while to warm up to the idea of running through a tunnel, but once they do, they'll beg you to play. You can usually get them started, by tossing a favorite toy or treat into the tunnel.

Squishy Face Studio Flirt Pole: This dog toy, which looks like a larger version of typical cat pole toys, features a 36-inch long pole with a 52-inch cord tethered to braided fleece lure. Swing the lure through the air and any dog with a strong prey drive will chase after it. The lure is designed to be gentle on the mouth but stand up to repeated playing. This is not designed for tug-of-war, though, so you'll want to make sure your dog understand the "drop it" command before playing.

Pet iN Action Dog Toy: While some dog behaviorists discourage playing tug game with your pets, others say it's OK if you know your dog well and have established yourself as the leader. If that's the case with your dog, this colorful rubber tug toy might be just the thing to help work off some energy. It's designed to be durable, but it's best not to leave it lying around the house with aggressive chewers because they could bite off chunks and choke. Most dogs would rather play with you than just a toy anyway.

Cesar'sWay, "Dog Exercise: How to Exercise Your Dog Indoors," www.cesarsway.com, accessed on June 13, 2013.

ASPCA, "Exercise for Dogs," www.aspca.org, accessed on June 13, 2013.