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Deciding what toy to buy for a restless pup isn’t an easy decision. There are countless options touting their benefits: durability, dental protection, or just plain cuteness.

Over time, most owners gain a better understanding of their own dog’s preferences. But sometimes, after agonizing over the decision and bringing it home, your dog barely touches it… or even finds the packaging more entertaining!

Why are dogs so picky? How do they decide what toy seems more fun than another? A recent study published in the journal “Animal Cognition” set out to get to the bottom of this mystery. The study introduced Labrador retrievers to a single toy for 30-second periods of time until they stopped interacting with the toy, and the results may confirm what you’ve already noticed with your own dog.

  1. Dogs look at toys the way wolves look at prey. So it’s not surprising that they tend to like toys that either taste like food, can be torn apart, and/or make a noise.
  1. Dogs find harder and quieter toys less interesting. After all, if they can’t chew into it and it doesn’t even make a peep, what’s the point? They want softer toys that can be more easily manipulated.
  1. Dogs are interested in new things. The Labs in the study were intensely interested in almost all of the toys… at first. But once they became familiar with them, they tended to lose interest.
  1. Dogs are more interested when you participate. As social creatures, our dogs become more excited when we’re excited. Engaging a dog in play using a toy is much more engaging than playing alone. A tug toy isn’t much good if there isn’t someone on the other side.

Recently, we asked you via Cesar’s Facebook and Google Plus page which toys your dogs like best and why. Here’s what you said: chew toys, rubber toys, ropes, tug toys, balls, socks, stuffed toys and, oddly enough, plastic bottles.

Post by Cesar Millan.

Each dog has a unique personality and energy level, and therefore will have a unique preference for the type of toy he or she likes to play with. The bottom line? Playing with you is best, but if you hope to keep your dog engaged on his own, toys that can be chewed or easily manipulated are more likely to keep his interest.

Warning: It’s important to note that toys that are easily torn apart can cause health problems if your dog accidentally (or, let’s be honest, intentionally) swallows pieces. Monitor his interaction with a toy, and be aware of the signs that he may have ingested something he shouldn’t have.

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