Well, what a summer it has been so far! As I sit here after the hottest two days of the year (or what feels like the hottest days of my life), all I can do is worry about my two dogs and how they must be feeling with their thick black coats, hot but also extremely bored. This blog is an insight into my favourite dog toys for the summer to help them overcome the boredom.

The most important thing to remember throughout the summer is that ‘heat stroke is no joke’. So many animals visit the vets each summer; because they have gotten too excited when playing in the park or even in the garden on hot days. Therefore one of the biggest questions that dog-owners ask on hot days is ‘how do I keep my dogs entertained in a safe way?’. There are many toys out there that can fulfil mental stimulation of dogs in a safe way whilst also keeping them cool and calm. 

For days that aren’t as hot, it’s always great to take them to the local dog field and have a good play time to wear them out! Having two big dogs, and with one being a breed that is known for bad joints, I have to think a little more carefully about the type of games that we play and how they might do more damage than harm. So I always find it good to look at what toys and games other dog owners are using. And how I could potentially use them or avoid them. It’s better to be safe than sorry so when looking into buying new toys for your dogs, I would definitely recommend talking to your dog trainer or even getting a bit of advice from your local vet on what is safest

How have the toys been tested?

The selection of toys within this blog are tried and tested by myself and my two lovable pups Ronnie and Rae. Toys have always been difficult in our house; with Rae being a hyperactive German Shepherd that LOVES to chew and destruct any toy in sight; and Ronnie not having any interest in anything but sleep or food. It’s been very hard to find toys to keep them both entertained for long enough to create a bit of a distraction. 

My top 5 toys

1) Snuffle Mats (Instagram: @Thecraftypawsuk)

Snuffle mats are designed to enhance training with your dog. They are also just an excellent game for in the home! Spreading food within the strands of the snuffle mats allows your dog to use their senses to retrieve it; stimulating the brain and preventing boredom. The Crafty Paws UK snuffle mat has super long strands which enable you to either place the treats on the top for an easy treat that takes a little bit more time than usual. Or hide them throughout for a challenging snack. 

For my dogs, this play mat is the best toy I have ever invested in! From Ronnie taking no time at all to eat his food, and Rae finding eating her food boring, it makes meal time fun and interactive; it initiates sniffing and foraging parts of the brain to make the task pleasurable for the dog. And don’t forget that snuffle mats help other dogs by:

  • Relieving stress
  • Providing mental stimulation for those dogs on restricted exercise
  • Encouraging slower eating habits for those with no manners

2) The Tug Toy (Instagram: @Thecraftypawsuk)

Another find from the eco-friendly small business that is The Crafty Paws UK, is the tug toy! The tug toy is made of recycled fabrics and knotted in a way to make it stretchy, strong, and also gentle on your dog’s teeth. It is made with a large handle for you to hold onto and is quite appealing on the eye.

I find that these tug toys are ideal for both training and for entertainment purposes. Not to mention that playing tug with your dog enhances great mental and physical workout. Tug strengthens your bond with your dog, and having tug toys available redirects destructive chewing around the house. I bought my first tug toy for Rae back in summer of 2021 and she still hasn’t managed to destroy it (which must be a world record?!). I tend to use this toy on training sessions with the dogs as a distraction technique. Or a simple reward when completing commands properly.

Remember, though, that tug toys aren’t ideal for every dog. If yours has any resource guarding or other behavioural issues, check with your behaviourist first.

3) The Kong Wobbler (www.kongcompany.com)

I don’t think there is a favourite dog toy list that doesn’t include a Kong toy. Now, as many Kong products as there are out there, or new toys that have been created based on these, nothing beats the Kong Wobbler! This toy is a fun, unpredictable game for dogs and it is made of a near indestructible material. We use this during some meal times, filling the Kong with kibble and letting the dogs chase it around the living room to get their food.

The bottom of the toy is weighted and rounded making it unpredictable and very wobbly. This is so the dogs have to follow their nose and also use their paws to try and win. The only problem I find with the Kong Wobbler is that it won’t last through hard chewing. So is best to remove after meal times. Also if your dogs are excitable like mine then your skirting boards will take a bit of a beating as it gets thrown into them!

4) Splash Mats (www.amazon.co.uk)

For warmer days that aren’t too hot but still need some cooling factors, a personal favourite of mine is a large water splash mat. It’s a large circular mat that connects to the outside hose and fires water through small holes out the outer rim; creating a sprinkler for the dogs to play in. Although not really a toy, I do consider this mat a game. My dogs absolutely love to try and catch the water in their mouths, running in circles whilst keeping cool. There are many versions of this toy online. Although I got ours from Amazon just before the heat wave (thank the skies for next day delivery!)

5) Homemade Enrichments (DIY!)

If you, like me, are a lover of the bigger breeds, you will know the pain of buying a ‘SUPER TOUGH & INDESTRUCTIBLE’ dog toy for top prices, to get it home and find it in 1000 pieces after taking your shoes off. Over the past couple of years I have spent hundreds on dog toys (one of the perks of dogs). So recently I have found the making my own enrichment games for the dogs has been a life saver to keep them occupied when buying new toys isn’t an option. Here are my favourites:

  • The egg box: Placing a few treats into an egg box and closing the lid. Then leaving of the floor and allowing the dog to fight it open and retrieve the food
  • The towel ring: Opening up a tea-towel and scattering some treats inside. Then rolling it up and tying the two ends into a knot; allowing the dog to sniff and try attempt to open it (The tighter the knot, the harder the game)
  • Hide-and-seek: I personally play this one on the empty patio by making the dog wait and hide treats in pretty obvious places. Then allowing her to sniff them out. This can be under empty and upside down plant-pots, or simply on top of a step. This game is great as it is also a very good training session for sit and wait. 


The important thing to remember is that no toy is indestructible. So always be sure to watch your dog during play time. And remove any small bits that they may have ripped apart to avoid choking hazards. If your dog is known for eating foreign materials then it is safer to not use weaker toys or easily broken materials. If you think that your dog may have swallowed part of a toy then please speak to your local vet for further advice.

I hope you find this article useful and of course fun!

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