Many dogs have distinct preferences that make it difficult to find your dog’s favorite toy. While you can bring your dog into the store to try to pick out a toy, it can be a time-consuming process. And sometimes when your dog picks out a favorite toy, he brings it home and promptly forgets or destroys it. So, what’s a dedicated dog owner to do?
Mud Bay decided to tackle to problem of pairing dogs with toys by creating our play preference tool. Each toy is placed in a specific category that should appeal to a particular type of dog. Our hope is the play preference increases the chance that each dog owner finds their dog’s favorite toy the first time.
To find out more about play preferences and how to use them, we talked to Marney McGovern. Marney has worked at Mud Bay for 19 years and chooses all the dog toys that Mud Bay has to offer. She agreed to explain how the play preference was developed and how it benefits dogs.
MB: Why did you decide to create a way to categorize toys based on an individual dog’s play preference?
MM: We wanted to come up with a tool for customers and staff to help them easily find their dog’s favorite toy. We knew that dog owners sometimes have trouble finding the right toy for their dog. Certain toys may only appeal to certain dogs.
It also helps narrow down your search. You can easily see which toys fit your dog’s play preference in the store so you can focus on the toys most likely to delight your dog.
Muddies wanted to make sure that customers were more satisfied with the toy they bought. Some people would return toys because they were disappointed about how their dog reacted to the toy. Sometimes their dog would tear the toy up immediately, while other dogs would completely ignore a toy. Our play preference toy selector is all about finding the right toy and making people and dogs happy.
MB: What are the five play preference categories? And how do you distinguish between them?
With dogs who have the snuggler play preference, the name says it all. These dogs like to snuggle—not chew—their toys. They carry the toys around in their mouths, and they’re very gentle with them.
Dogs who want to pull are tuggers. These lovers of tug-of-war want something they can use to play with another human or dog. Dogs who love ropes or springy plush toys fall into these categories.
Thinkers are dogs that have the patience and intelligence to do puzzle toys. Dispensing toys that can be filled with kibble or treats also fall into this category. Thinkers tend to be very food motivated, so puzzle toys that hold treats tend to be very popular with dogs who are thinkers.
Fetchers are the dogs that are constantly trying to get you to throw things for them. It could be a ball or a stick or another toy, but dogs in this category tend to want to play fetch as often as they can.
Destroyers are the dogs who are really tough on toys. These dogs like to play by tearing apart most other toys. Toys in this category have to be strong to withstand rough play and chewing.
MB: How do you recommend someone pick a toy for their dog using their individual play preference?
MM: Try to observe how your dog plays. Does your dog immediately start tearing off pieces of his toy or is he happier to just carry it around in his mouth? Does your dog like to learn tricks and is highly food motivated? He might be a thinker.
Also, don’t be afraid to ask a Muddy in a store, with or without your dog. Muddies can’t see your dog at home, but they can help by asking questions to narrow down what your dog might like.
Dogs may have play preferences that follow specific breeds, so you might want to use your dog’s breed characteristics to choose a toy. Knowing the standard temperament for your dog’s breed can definitely help when choosing a toy.
MB: Many dog owners become frustrated with their destroyer-type dogs. Any advice for them?
MM: Destroyer dogs genuinely enjoy tearing apart toys, which can be frustrating for owners who just spent $20 on a new toy! But there are a few techniques to try.
First, you might want to consider having both chews and toys. Sometimes your dog will be chewing a toy with the back of his mouth, and a chew is more suitable for that type of behavior. So, giving that dog a bully stick or other chew toy, and taking away the toy for a while, might be the better option in those situations.
All dogs can benefit from having both chews and toys, but some owners just prefer to give their dogs toys for whatever reasons. If you just want to give your dog a toy, you can try taking it away when your dog starts to chew it apart. Then, after a while, you can try giving your dog back the toy.
Supervision with any dog is also important because you don’t want your dog to swallow part of the toy. But destroyers tend to be more likely than most to swallow toys. So, watching them closely is important!
Some dog owners can’t seem to convince their dog not to destroy toys, so we recommend more indestructible, hard rubber toys. Many dog owners like plush toys, but even the toughest plushie won’t withstand constant chewing.***
Marney McGovern has been with Mud Bay since 2000 and is one of the category managers. You can find her at the home office researching and testing toys and treats for Mud Bay along with grooming supplies and small animal products. When she is not at Mud Bay, she is enjoying time with her family or competing in 3-day eventing on her horse Tonga Coral. She also enjoys spending time with her dogs and chickens!