Should you put toys in your dog crate

Should you put toys in your dog crate

A lot of dog owners are wondering if they should put toys in the dog crate and if so which ones are safe. In this article, we will be going over what toys you should use, which are the best and how to use them.

You should definitely put toys in your dog crate to help accelerate the crate training and make the crate a place of joy to your dog.

Just walking down the toy ile in the local pet store could be confusing. There are hundreds of different toys to choose from. Most dog owners just pick what looks interesting or what their dog seems to be liking.

There is more to toys than most people think, each has a different job and access can’t be granted all the time.

You can’t just get a bunch of toys and threw them in the basket for your dog; If you do so you are missing on a great opportunity.

Today I am going to help you choose the types of toys you should have and how to use them.

Using toys for crate training

You can use toys to develop your relationship, to teach important skills and behaviors and make things a lot more fun.

This could be great when crate training a puppy, a toy could be a great way to make it easier to lure and distract the puppy in the crate.

Securing a toy inside the crate especially high value one could make life easier and help you speed up the crate training process.

Just like training treats toys are great motivational tools when it comes to training. You can use it to reward your dog when he does something you like. It also sends good signals about a place like a crate if associated with it.

Toys in the crate are extremely helpful when you are not around ad do a great job keeping your dog calm.

Do toys help with crate training

Toys are not just helpful when it comes to crate training or training in general; they are necessary and don’t start crate training unless you have them ready.

If you want your dog to be cooperative and responsive to your commands you will need rewards. Training treats are great but you should not overuse them or else you will disturb your dog’s nutrition.

The reward part keeps the dog motivated to get in the crate but also gives credibility to your training.

Toys that you can put in the crate are not the only ones related to crate training. If you know a little about crate training then you know that playtime is essential to reduce the dog energy before going into the crate. So using every one of these toys correctly helps you perfect your dog training.

Crate training toys are very useful but not every toy can be put in the dog crate. So how can you know what toy to put in your dog crate? And what’s the difference between the hundreds of toys you can find in the pet store.

What are the types of dog toys

dog toys for training
dog enjoying his toy

All dog toys fall into four main categories, the nature of these toys are pretty self-explanatory by name. So let us go over these toys one at a time and see ho we can use them.

The first error most dog owners fall into is buying a bunch of all four categories and giving them to the dog to choose. So the dog has full access to all the toys all the time which should not be the case.

Chew toys

The first category is chew-toys, these are the most obvious ones. They are designed to be chewed and mangled on a regular basis. So they are generally made of strong rubber or silicone. And they come in different shapes and sizes.

Chew toys can be available to your dog all the time as they please and are encouraged to chew on as this is calming. They can have free accès at early ages and from the beginning.

Chewing releases endorphins that calm your dog down and produce feelings of contentment. Chew trained dogs are less likely to get into trouble when unsupervised.

Using a chew toy to feed a new puppy is a great idea and you can use their own food no need to treats.

You can use food filed chew toys when you are not around and you can tie it to the crate to facilitate crate training. You can tie them to trees to encourage outdoor activities.

And since you are using natural food you are keeping the nutrition balanced and not overusing treats which should not surpass 10% of the daily caloric intake. You can check this article about dog training treats and how to use them.

So basically chew toys help you

  • speed up crate training
  • diminishes boredom
  • Minimize isolation distress
  • helps to treat separation anxiety
  • Reduces stress in stressful situations.

Dental toys

Dental toys are used to scour teeth and massage the gums and promote blood flow. They have knobs ridges and fins to work on the dog’s mouth while he is chewing on them.

Your dog can also have unlimited access to dental toys or after meals since they are similar to chew toys but with a supplement.

Dental toys and chew toys for that matter should be regularly checked and should be replaced when they are too mangled.

Interactive toys

Interactive dog toys
Interactive dog toys

The interactive toys offer great training potential, they are plenty like balls frisbees tug toys and many other shapes. These are toys that your dog interacts with other than just lay down and chew on.

These are great as they offer physical and mental stimulation and offer training opportunities which most dog owners miss.

Interactive toys are only used when you initiate a play session; you keep them away and you decide what game to play and when. Your dog can have a favorite game but he should not have free access.

When you control the access to these toys you can use them as leverage and as high-value training rewards. Training should not always be done with treats, in fact, toys are the best way to phase out on treats.

Interactive toys such as tug are great teaching the dog important behaviors like the soft mouth. Commands like take it and drop it are essential in every training and tug is the perfect way to do it.

These can be used for reducing the tension and energy before going into the crate.

Plush toys

plush dog toys
plush dog toys

These are often misused and if not used properly could teach your dog some bad habits; like tearing apart other things they find like slippers.

You should never allow your dog to destroy his plush toy, chewing toys are for the chewing and tearing; plush toys, on the other hand, are for teaching.

When you use the plush toy you should treat it like a baby or a small animal in front of your dog. By going soft and kind toward it you pass that to your dog.

Any grab or bite by your dog should have a strong reaction from you” a HEY LOOK WHAT YOU DID” should work. Your perspective on the boundaries is different than your dog’s; so you want to make sure you are on the same page.

If you see any strong grabbing or biting you need a few seconds instructive time out and take it back.

These plush toys are great for teaching the dog to be around babies and other pets.

Which dog toys to put in your dog crate

Now that we the different types of dog toys and what’s the purpose of each one we can chooses which toy to put in your dog crate.

So all you need to do is list the facts about what you want with the dog toy what’s the goal.

  • We need it to distract the dog while he is in his crate
  • We want it to calm the dog and reduce his anxieties
  • It needs to be safe and solid for the dog to use while unsupervised.
  • We need it to reduce boredom when the dog is left alone
  • It needs to minimize isolation distress
  • It also has to reduce stress in stressful situations.

If we go over these characteristics we can clearly see that only chew toys fit all these requirements.

So the chew toy is the go-to toy for crate training, using it allows you to keep your dog distracted; It also helps reduce stress through chewing.

The most important features are the ability to minimize boredom and to be filled with food to keep the dog interested.

So what to look for in a chew toy for the crate?

You need a toy that is strong enough to leave it for hours with the dog unsupervised. It also has to be big enough not to be swallowed. And if it can be filled with food it would be great.

What about the other dog toys

So now we now know that the best toy for your dog crate is the chew toy, but why can’t we use the other toys?

Dental toys can also be used in the crat they generally have the same features as chew toys, but they do not come with the option of filling it with food.

This could help a lot keep the dog distracted if you are not around for a long time. You can totally use it after meals when you are around the house for cleaning. but chewing toys do a better job keeping the doy calm.

The interactive toys are used more as rewards with limited access and for them to keep their value as leverage your dog can’t have full access all the time.

These type of toys only you can decide when to use them and as their name explains they need some interaction at some level.

Use these carefully to teach your dog some behavior and not as a distraction; they sure are very helpful at playtime before going in the crate but not in it.

Pluss toys, on the other hand, are only used for one and a unique purpose; to teach the dog that he can’t grab and bite everything.

These simulate living things like other pets or children to supervise his behavior around them. Giving your dog a plush toy to chew on all day is dangerous and sends bad signals.

This one is used under your supervision so you can reward good behavior and reprimand the bad. For this one, you should have very high expectations and set high standards.

How to use toys for training

When crate training I usually use chewing toys and interactive toys. Chewing toys are used in the crate to keep the dog distracted and I fill it with dog food(not treats) to keep the dog interested.

I even use it when the dog is just chilling outside of the crate they do a great job calming the dog.

I generally secure it with a short string to the top of the crate and let my dog work a little to get the food.

Interactive toys are used in between crate sessions to let the dog have some fun and enjoy his time while I am teaching some commands like take it and drop it. (these are two essential commands that every dog should be taught)

Using this combination of chewing toys and interactive toys helps a lot accelerate crate training and keep the dog stimulated both mentally and physically.

The best dog toys for crate training

Now that we know what are the different types of dog toys how to use them and which toy to put in the dog crate. let us go over the best ones you can use.

Just knowing how to use toys and what kind of toys does not help you with the hundreds of toys out there to choose from.

So for each category, we are going to link to the one recommend as the best that we used and find to be efficient.

The best dog chew toy

There are plenty of dog chew toys out there but the one we recommend and the most used by dog trainers and owners is the famous kong. When it comes to chewing toys it’s really the go-to toy.

You can get it here

Why we recommend it:

  • It’s fairly strong and durable material although we recommend having two be ready if one starts showing signs of breaking.
  • This toy is great for staffing with food and actually the best in this case.
  • Safe and approved by veterinarians and dog trainers.

The best dog dental toy

Dental toys are really cool they can serve as chew toys while at the same time help scour the teeth and gum. There are plenty of cool models on amazon our favorite is this one.

Why we recommend it:

  • The number one reason is the convenient Design it makes it easy for the dog to fix it while chewing on it.
  • The material is a durable natural rubber which is non-toxic and eco-friendly.
  • It comes with a chew bone which is great and a brush to clean it up so it’s a complete package.

Interactive dog toys

When it comes to interactive dog toys we prefer using tug toys; if you heard someone at a pet store say it’s dangerous they don’t know what they’re talking about.

It is a great teaching tool and can be very useful for teaching the take it and leave commands.

The one we recommend is actually a mix of a chew toy and a tug and you can find it here.

Why we recommend it:

  • The design is great and gives you a good grib to challenge your dog and interact more.
  • It has the dental cleaning and chewing toy feature which is a great combination.
  • It is safe and durable so you can be assured your dog is safe.

Plush dog toys

Plush toys have a really important role in teaching your dog to be gentle with other pets and children. And we’ve found the perfect plush toy for that.

It is the most realistic plush toy out there and you can find it here.

Why we recommend it:

  • This one I am really excited about and can’t stop sharing it with other dog owners.
  • It is very realistic it has the shape of a real dog and has the “Real-feel” pulsing heartbeat which makes it very helpful.
  • This toy is easier to use for teaching the dog to be gentle with other animals and children since it seems so real not just some piece of plush.
  • If there is one we recommend most of all the products it is this one.

Are toys safe in the dog crate?

Well, this is an important question that I rather finish with; not all dog toys are safe in the crate.

You really need to make sure you chose the best dog toy to put in the dog crate; especially if your dog spends long hours alone in his crate.

Mostly it’s chewing toys that you will be leaving in your dog crate so you want to choose one that is durable and solid.

You also want it to be the right size if it’s too small it can cause some unfortunate incident. It has to be a regular normal shape nothing too weird that can hurt your dog’s eyes while he chews on it.

If you are choosing one that you are going to tie with a string you want to make sure the dog can’t get the string around his neck or something.

You also want to regularly inspect the toy and retire the ones that are too mangled which is why having two is a good idea.

By choosing the kong you really get all of the above covered. Which is why it is recommended by almost all dog trainers.


These are the great guidelines you should remember:

  • You should use toys in the dog crate.
  • Use toys to make crate training more efficient.
  • Toys can really help with crate training as a substitute for training treats.
  • Chew toys are the ones to put in the dog crate.
  • Choose a good and safe chew toy to put in your dog crate.