We tested the best puppy toys 2024 for chewing, play, and enrichment

Dog with a toy in his mouth
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Buying the best puppy toys is an investment worth making. Dogs are smart animals, and, as puppies, sometimes they can be challenging as well as bags of fun and love. Pups need mental and physical stimulation daily to prevent problems due to stress, boredom, or discomfort from situations such as teething or separation anxiety.

Toys for puppies can also help as a second pair of hands if you are busy (which, let's face it, most of us are) and can’t give your full attention or in circumstances when you are learning how to crate train a dog for example.

Toys burn off energy helping your puppy to settle physically and mentally, and they're also super handy when your dog is teething so that you redirect them onto a toy instead of nipping your hands. The journal Applied Animal Behavior Science, adds that play develops a dog’s motor skills and assists with social cohesion so there is a lot more to it than just fun. 

As pet owners, we've spent more than enough time (and money) finding out what makes great puppy toys worth it. We tested several products from cuddly companions for helping our pups sleep to fetch toys and chewy options to sink their teeth into. Assisted by vet and pet behavior consultant, Joanna Woodnutt MRCVS, we've rounded up nine options we'd buy time and time again and we've highlighted the benefits of each choice too.

“Puppy toys provide mental stimulation, learning through play, and an outlet for their chewing instinct,” Dr Woodnutt affirms, so here are our favorites.

Sophie Bird
Curated by Sophie Bird

As Editor of PetsRadar, Sophie lives and breathes all things pets but puppy toys are a thing she knows plenty about having bought more than she'd like to admit for her pup, Wally - an English cocker spaniel with wild amounts of energy and plenty of personality too. Sophie, like most puppy owners, searched high and low for puppy toys that were safe for her dog, durable so that no teeny bits broke off and became a choking hazard, and kept her pup occupied so she could work or take care of other tasks. In this guide, Sophie pulls together all of her advice on what to buy and to consider before you buy puppy toys.

The best puppy toys 2024

How we tested the best puppy toys

Hands on testing

We couldn't bring you a guide to the best puppy toys without putting each product through its paces with the experts...puppies! Each and every one of the products in this guide has been tested by real puppies and used for several weeks (and much longer in many cases as you'll see above) to see how well it fared. 

Durability and safety

We took into account things such as the durability of each toy and whether it was safe for a little pup with razor sharp teeth to play with because the last thing any pet parent needs is potential choking hazards for their pooch. 

Since puppies can have a tendency to tear things up, especially when they're teething, we considered how long lasting these toys were and whether they were also easy to clean to keep them hygienic. 

Squeaks and fun elements

During testing, we made note of any fun elements that made the toys even more appealing to our puppies. Squeakers are great fun for dogs but not all owners will be keen on listening to them so we've taken this into account. Some of the food-related toys we tried also needing testing for how difficult they were for the pups to figure out as anything that's too challenging can be incredibly frustrating for the dog, rather than engaging.

Should my puppy always have toys?

Your puppy needs toys to prevent them from becoming bored, but whether or not a puppy should have toys all of the time is another question entirely. In general, it's never a good idea to have too many toys out at once and to only bring out playthings when you feel a puppy will benefit from them. It will stop a pooch from becoming overwhelmed while keeping their interest high.

“It’s generally a good idea to give your puppy free access to at least one toy, especially when they’re going through a chewing phase,” says veterinarian Dr Joanne Woodnutt MRCVS. “However, keeping most toys hidden away and rotating them stops them from becoming boring.”

It's also a good idea to remove toys during mealtimes so that a puppy's focus is on food rather than play. Unless the toys are robust, you should also try and supervise play sessions rather than always leave puppies to their own devices.

Dr Joanna Woodnutt BVM BVS BVMedSci MRCVS
Dr Joanna Woodnutt

After graduating as a veterinarian from the University of Nottingham, Dr Joanna Woodnutt went on to practice companion animal medicine in the Midlands. She quickly developed a love of consulting and helping clients with medical problems such as dermatology, behavior and nutrition - anything that involved helping clients understand their pets better. Jo now is a regular contributor for PetsRadar, sharing her expert advice with pet owners across the globe.

How to choose the best puppy toy

It can be tempting to just stock up on the cutest, brightest, and perhaps cheapest puppy toys when buying for your new dog but it pays to do some research before committing to buy. 

Cheap toys probably won’t last very long and those which are non-durable toys can leave a lot of mess behind – even presenting a choking hazard for very young dogs. It's a good idea to invest a little more money and look out for toys that claim to be durable. Check the type of material used: rubber tends to be a good option for most puppies because of their sharp teeth. 

It's a good idea to buy toys with little to no stuffing, especially for destructive puppies. Stuffing can be easily ripped out and spread around your home, while those that feature other materials, such as rope, tend to last a lot longer.

Toys with flavorings, such as vanilla, mint or meat flavorings can help keep your puppy’s attention for longer, giving them extra motivation to chew. And look for toys that feature squeakers if your dog likes sound stimulation – although be aware that many puppies will try their hardest to rip out and destroy squeakers.

What toys should you not give to a puppy?

All of the toys we have listed here can be freely given to a puppy to play with but you should be aware that not all toys are suitable. Shy away from cheaply-made squeaker toys because there's a chance they could break apart and end up being swallowed. Also, avoid giving puppies toys with loose parts including batteries: you don't want to risk your dog swallowing such items. 

Don't give puppies toys made for human children either – they're not robust enough to last enthusiastic chewing. Finally, if you are looking to give a puppy a food-related toy, avoid rawhide chews which can get lodged in a puppy's intestine. 

“Avoid anything that isn’t made for puppies or seems to be poorly made.” says veterinarian Dr Joanne Woodnutt MRCVS. “Those teeth can get through many toys easily and you don’t want your pup to need surgery to remove a broken toy from his stomach!”

How many puppy toys should a dog have at once?

It can be tempting to open up the toy box and have many playthings available to your fur baby at any given time. But experts suggest rotating your puppy toys weekly so they have only access to four or five, each offering a variety of uses. These can include their favorite comfort toy, a rolling toy that will keep them busy, a chew toy to gnaw on and a puzzle toy to keep their mind active. 

Should puppies have toys in their crate?

Adding toys into the crate can be a great way to associate that space with fun and interesting things for your pup to do. It’s worth making sure you rotate the toys so that they are still fresh and interesting to your dog, rather than leaving them in there for long periods of time.

What is the best toy for a puppy to chew on?

Dogs and puppies are usually very willing to give most toys a try, particularly where chewing is concerned. Toys made of harder rubbers tend to be good and safe contenders for chewing which also last. They are generally made in various shapes and sizes to cater to different mouths and teething stages. Thick knotted rope toys are another good option especially if they like tug-of-war games as well as chewing and gnawing. Balls are a further option to consider however the popular tennis ball is not a great one to offer, whilst it is good for fetch games they don’t hold up to chewing.

Check with your veterinarian if you are thinking about offering a rawhide chew product as these present a potential choking hazard plus many rawhides are by-products of the fur trade. 

Do eight week old puppies need toys?

Toys should be classed as a necessity not a luxury for any dog and puppy due to their benefits. It is recommended that toys are offered to puppies between the ages of two and 10 months old as during this period they are experiencing rapid development. The toys given to your young furry friend need to be age appropriate but their breed and personal preference will also likely play a role in their favorite choices. 

Sophie Bird

Sophie is Editor of PetsRadar and has been working in publishing for seven years. Leading the team and daily direction of the website, Sophie has worked across some of PetsRadar’s biggest sister sites including LiveScience, TechRadar, and was most recently, Editor of Fit&Well. While she’s not busy making sure our readers have the very best advice to keep happier and healthier pets, Sophie is training her teenage cocker spaniel, Wally. Having found heaps of conflicting information out there when it comes to helping a reactive dog, or even choosing the right nutrition, Sophie is determined to cut through the confusion and bring the very best expert-led knowledge to PetsRadar.