==> Do you know where German Shepherds and Children are alike?

They love to play with TOYS!

Top 6 Toys that German Shepherds LOVE

Note that we intentionally start easy in the first 4 to 6 weeks. Enjoy this, because the content of the MYGERMANSHEPHERD PERIODICAL will get progressively more demanding - as you may or may not have heard from fellow subscribers who have benefited from it for years already.

Also, you and we need to see if we are a good match. If you are not interested to learn more about your dog then we are not a good match. In fact, in such case you are not a good match for your dog either.

And obviously we can only fulfil our mission - To help you build the BEST relationship with your German Shepherd Dog - if you are interested and open-minded.

When your GSD is gnawing on your favourite slippers or other belongings then it's time to think about the right new toy for your dog.

Requirements for dog toys

  1. your dog must LOVE it!
  2. it must be SAFE for your dog!
  3. the material must be NON-TOXIC!
  4. it should be USEFUL for education and training
  5. it should be mentally and/or physically STIMULATING
  6. it should be DURABLE
  7. it should be EASY TO CLEAN

A LOT of requirements, I know. But we are not the average dog site just recommending you some dog toys for the sake of it. We are a .ORG for a reason. Everything we do and say is the result of research and deeper thought processes - if not experimentation. Also, you and I don't want to spend money on toys unsuitable for our best friend, or falling apart within days, right? And, we want our dog to be SAFE.

While another MYGERMANSHEPHERD PERIODICAL (much later) will focus on GAMES to play with our dog, this Periodical is about the TOP 6 TOYS of a physical nature. Not really the top 6 toys, but the top toys in the 6 dog toy categories.

So what's the difference between dog toys (this Periodical) and dog games (a future Periodical)?

The key difference is that dog games we play with our dog, ie dog games always are Together-Time with the dog (to improve bonding) - while with dog toys generally our dog can play on its own. Generally, because:

  • While with a toy, we must casually observe the dog, for safety reasons
  • And some toys actually require that we play together with the dog

Now, taking all anecdotal evidence together, we came up with a list of clear winners. However, you know your dog best, so just take these as suggestions:


oneChew Toys

The Nylabone Galileo® is an insanely tough nylon chew bone. You must get the right one though (puppy/ adult dog). The Nylabone Galileo is great to strengthen a puppy's teeth as well as give the adult German Shepherd something to release its immense energy level (and clean its teeth too).

Likewise, Westpaw's Hurley® is a super-tough, multi-functional chew bone that's ideal to be taken outside when you two get some exercise - even in the water!

twoActivity Toys

Chuckit!® is a non-toxic high-impact ball that's made to last, and this ball is more FUN for your dog than the typical tennis ball that you may have found outside your local tennis courts. ;-)

Likewise, Floppy Disc® is huge FUN and exercise for your dog (and you too). Why not use the ordinary frisbee? Because the Floppy Disc's floppiness is safer and healthier for teeth and gums (you have no idea at what force a GSD catches an item in its mouth!), and it flies slower (so that your dog can really see it close while chasing it; we will show you later What Dogs See). - Tip: Throw the Floppy Disc to levitate just above and ahead of your dog's reach. Cool!

threeTreat Toys

Westpaw's Tux® is a good example. It's made of a non-toxic material trading as Zogoflex®. Tux is pliable, bouncing, recyclable, buoyant, and dishwasher-safe too!

Likewise, Kong Extreme® - maybe the toughest non-toxic material of all, this buoy-shaped interactivity toy is perfect for the mental and physical stimulation of a German Shepherd. Place his or her favourite treat inside and watch with fun how your dog tries to get at it, while having FUN on its own with tossing around the buoy.

fourSqueaky Toys

Hartz Roundabouts® is a great example of squeak-only toys. They are made of latex that lasts. Note though that you can't make every dog happy with squeaky toys - some GSDs may find them disturbing or annoying (I do too). But it's worth to try out one of these toys too.


fivePuzzle Toys

Hide-a-Squirrel® is immensely popular among German Shepherds. Surprisingly I'd say, because it's plush and it contains small parts (the squirrels).

Likewise, Dog Egg-Babies is another multi-functional toy that promises your dog loads of lasting FUN, as well as mental and physical stimulation. Just don't get those with small floppy parts (like eg the hedgehog has on its feet), then they last longer and are safer! Note that these toys also squeak - as long as they work. ;-)

sixTug Toys

Most Tug Toys perform poorly, and it's better to just take a strong leather lead or cotton rope or wet sauna/bath towel. However, one toy that isn't actually promoted as Tug Toy does have its merits: Fresh-N-Floss® is tough enough for a short quick pull with your German Shepherd, and while doing so it is proven to be brilliant on your dog's teeth - while gentle enough for its gums.

A good alternative is Vip's Tuffy's Ultimate. A soft Tug Toy of enormous strength with good oral cleaning effect too.

Except for pure Chew Toys, all these toys can be considered Interactivity Toys as they either return sound, light, or movement when your dog plays with them.

Why is interactivity so important?

Because boredom is poison for dogs, and all the more for the active and smart German Shepherd Dog breed. Boredom results in health and behavior problems with your dog. So, do provide at least one dog toy of each dog toy category shown above, to help avoid that your dog gets bored too much.

Note: One toy of each dog toy category is a thousand times better than six toys all of the same dog toy category, or two toys each of only three dog toy categories. - Understood? Good! :-)


  • Don't leave your dog alone with any of these toys, because no toy is 100% indestructible. Just look on a beach what a force as gentle as water can do to a ROCK over time! [Added: Well, one toy apparently is indestructible, even for a GSD's entire lifespan, see further below]
    You don't want your dog choking on parts of a disintegrated toy. So, particularly in the first days or weeks with a new toy, do observe your dog to assess how safe s(he) plays with that toy - like you would do with your child too.
  • For the German Shepherd, generally buy the largest size of any toy. Not because this dog is a large breed (the standard GSD really isn't a large breed, rather medium), but because a toy with larger parts is safer for a larger dog. While say, a small ball may easily get stuck in your dog's throat when (s)he is all excited or physically exhausted, a larger ball cannot.
  • If you put a toy in the dishwasher, do make sure a) that you place it in the top drawer (if the heat source is at the bottom of the machine), and b) that afterwards you rinse the toy very well with clean cold water before you give it back to your dog.
  • Do provide your German Shepherd with a variety of toys in order to train brain, senses, and muscles in multiple ways, and to be more FUN for your dog.
  • Most importantly for behavior purposes: Do not let your dog have several toys at the same time, instead always provide only one toy at a time, and change the toy every hour or so.
  • And when you determine that playtime is over, or when your dog leaves the toy alone (because (s)he is bored with it!!), take away the toy.
  • Even when your dog is playing delightfully with the same toy (ie not yet bored), I would strongly suggest to remove the toy after two hours MAX (swap it for another toy, or take a dog walk, perform feeding, go to sleep, whatever).

(How to remove a toy the right way is not the topic of this Periodical, see above)

So why do we link to Amazon for all toys? Because on Amazon, all the above toys are between cheap and embarassingly cheap. I need to be economical, and I assume you too. But our dogs don't know the price, so we will get away with that. ;-)

Further important

  • If you ever want to use a Laser Pointer to play with your GSD, NEVER risk to point the laser in a direction where your dog's eyes may look into the laser light during chasing it. A fraction of a second is enough to damage the dog's eyes permanently. If you have kids in the house, make sure that they adhere to this advice too!
  • With Treat Toys, only place one or two treats at once inside them (if the treats are separable). When they are eaten, depending on the time lapsed and the amount of treats already given, leave it at that and take the toy away for another day - or repeat the 'search and rescue the treat' toy session one or two more times if your dog is still eager to play (always 'leave on a high').
  • With Tug Toys, most important is that you and your dog are always aware who is ultimately in control (you). Don't play with this type of toy until your GSD has fully accepted you as the Pack leader. Eg your dog must be able to fully adhere to the DROP IT command. Also, don't play with this type of toy more than 3 rounds, then put it away until at least several hours later.
  • Also, with Tug Toys, make sure that you never 'shake the dog by the jaw' from left to right (like you see dog owners and trainers do in youtube videos and movies). That ruins the dog's gums, loosens the teeth, and brings high vet bills upon you. Only use tug toys for straight pulls. If the dog shakes its head during pulling, that's fine, don't stop the FUN because of that.

Added: Above I wrote "No toy is 100% indestructible. - Well, one toy apparently is indestructible, even for a GSD's entire lifespan".

So, what's this toy then? Well, that's a very special 'toy' that doesn't quite fit in the above dog toy categories. Because, it's more a full-blown autonomous exercise instrument for our German Shepherds. It's called the Varsity Ball, and if your GSD plays with this one then (s)he may work out until (s)he's totally pooped! So again, you must be careful and observe your dog initially to see how your dog plays with this ball.

The Varsity Ball costs more than any of the above Amazon-typical toys. But then, like I said, this is more than a toy, it is an autonomous exercise instrument for our dogs. And yes, apparently NO dog, not even a tiger, has been able to destroy this ball. Period.

Varsity Ball Animation

This 'toy' also doesn't fit in the above scheme because this ball is so large and heavy that there's no way for a GSD to choke on it. And since it cannot be destroyed it cannot disintegrate either. Hence our dogs cannot swallow parts of it - which so often happens with standard toys once they disintegrate!

In short: The Varsity Ball appears to be the only toy we can leave our German Shepherds alone with. Even all day while we are at work (after the safety precautions mentioned above).

There are of course other toys on the market too. This is just our list of suggestions of Top Dog Toys in each dog toy category, taking into account the feedback from thousands of other GSD owners too.


Checklist * (see note at the bottom)

TOP TOYS should fulfil the following requirements:

  1. your dog must LOVE it!
  2. it must be SAFE for your dog!
  3. the material must be NON-TOXIC!
  4. it should be USEFUL for education and training
  5. it should be mentally and/or physically STIMULATING
  6. it should be DURABLE
  7. it should be EASY TO CLEAN

Boredom is poison for dogs! Make sure you provide at least one toy of each dog toy category:

  • Chew Toys
  • Activity Toys
  • Treat Toys
  • Squeaky Toys
  • Puzzle Toys
  • Tug Toys

Further notes:

  • Except for the Varsity Ball, all toys can disintegrate. Therefore do observe your dog initially, and later casually, when (s)he plays with any toy!
  • Even with the Varsity Ball - which is more like an autonomous exercise instrument than a 'toy' - you must initially observe your dog.
  • Only the reason is different here, namely you need to be sure that your dog adopts a healthy 'play - rest' attitude, so that (s)he doesn't get dangerously exhausted.
  • IF you want to use a Laser Pointer to play with your dog, NEVER risk to point the laser beam in a direction where your dog's eyes may look into the laser light during chasing it!
  • For dog behavior reasons, always only provide one dog toy at a time, and change the toy every hour or so. The exception is: one chew toy can be left with the dog in addition.
  • When your dog leaves the toy alone (read: the dog is bored!!), take the toy away. And take down a note for yourself: you waited too long. Going forward, swap toys quicker.


==> Next edition: Core Areas of German Shepherd Psychology <==

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    So grateful I found your site! We have 2 GSD aged 9 wks. They are our babies and we love having helpful advice from other owners!!


    Thanks for the advice! My GSD is two years old and I was looking for more ways to stimulate him mentally and physically, so very much appreciated. =] Also great advice on how to properly use the toys and how often!


    I have just ordered a varsity ball and I am looking forward to having Remi wear himself out with it.After reading some of the feedback and seeing the dog's enjoying themselves in the video's I couldn't resist.


    I bought a varsity ball for my GSD. He absolutely loved it, but after less than 15 minutes of play, all the hair and skin was rubbed off the side of his face and the blood was flying. I was so disappointed, as he really enjoyed playing with it. Has anyone else had a similar problem?


      Uups! No, never heard of that! And the company said so too, and they have thousands of customers! There must be sth very peculiar about your dog, any idea what, did you watch play or what else the dog did while you thought he played? Is he SO enthusiastic with anything else?


        My dog loves bottles too, more than any toy but he destroys them so I have to take it away before he pulls pieces from it that he could swallow and hurt himself


        My german shepherd now 10 months old fell head over heals for the varsity ball he would cry when playing with it the neighbors would think he was hurt, he can think of nothing else even when I would put it away, I had to only let him have it for 10-15 minutes or so, he would bleed also the i noticed his teeth started to wear a little on the sides that he used to push the ball around my yard... large yard, at that time he was 7 months old and his teeth were getting worn!!! Sorry to say but I gave them I had to different sizes to the garbage men, I felt so bad, I would have to hide them up high in my garage so he would stop crying and looking for them, best toy ever if you want to get false teeth for them, the ball is very hard and he would bang his teeth on them Not Good Idea. I did love it at first.


        Interesting Cindy, thanks for writing.
        At around the same age (7m) Miguel played so hard and so much with the large Varsity ball that he got bleeding shins (all documented in the New Puppy Diary). We then paused for two weeks (obviously). Next time playing he got it again. We paused again, 4 weeks. Thereafter he never got bleeding shins anymore. Maybe we played shorter, or his shins were stronger by then. I do believe now that for any dog under 1y the ball is too hard. I would have kept the ball for later though, I wouldn't have thrown it away just because it didn't work for the young puppy.

        He never had teeth problems though, the ball is too big to give the teeth much trying. So he basically played football with it, like all dogs do that I have seen with it. If your puppy didn't give up trying to bite into it, I assume it will hurt the teeth, no doubt, the ball is very hard. But then, every quality chew toy will hurt equally the dog's teeth, because a durable soft chew toy has yet to be invented. So out of interest, what chew toy(s) does your pup play with?

        We for example have the Nylabone, but I never even once gave it to him, it is noticeably hard like marble! He doesn't even get it now as adult dog. I too wouldn't want that the dog's teeth get worn out. A bit of training for the teeth actually is very good, but for that nothing hard is needed. I gonna ask the Varsity ball vendor if they can make a softer "puppy version" of it, such that neither shins nor teeth can suffer.


      I know this is an old thread. But I want to add that you must watch how your GSD plays with the varsity ball. I didn't realize that after 1 year of chasing her ball around my yard, my dog wore down all 4 canine teeth on the outsides, to the point that the pulp is now exposed!! Apparently her action of using the side of her mouth to herd the ball, which obviously collects tiny particles of dirt like sandpaper, rubbed down her teeth!! So, if your dog uses her mouth on the ball, BEWARE, this will be a costly vet bill if/when the tooth dies from exposure.
      I have googled this and there are many other owners with similar experience.
      I must say my dog LOVED her varsity ball, and was so depressed when I had to give it away.


    My 4 month old German Shepherd just loves,loves,loves playing with an empty soda bottle.She plays with that more than any of the toys I bought her. She reminds me of a child you buy the most expensive toy for, and she plays with the box!! You have to be careful and watch carefully that they dont chew the cap off and swallow it, or rip the bottle. I use the bigger one so she cannot fit the whole thing in her mouth, and I never leave her alone with it.


      Great! Just stop her instantly when the bottle rips - sharp edges. You must be a very careful observer. I am not sure I could do that.


    Our 15mo old absolutely loves the egg ( same as the ball but shaped like an egg)
    It's the only toy/treat to keep him from going after squirrels/cats (ugh!!) we just say "come get your egg" and he immediately comes and I'll toss him the egg.
    We have to limit his time with it as he could go all day with it. He never gets bored with it.


      Yes Holly limit his time nonetheless, swap all toys after 1 - 2 hrs max. Reasons you saw in the Puppy 101.
      And give the toys from your hand :-)


    best toy,
    Kong filled with peanut butter


    My 5 year old GSD loves tennis balls. They are too big for him to swallow, and they are tough enough that he has not been able to tear them apart.


      Too big to swallow, yes, but I've seen GSDs unable to breathe cause a tennisball got stuck. Not being able to breathe is quite an issue, I can tell ya


    First time gsd owner. Young male. Awesome breed. Thx for info


      David, then pl feel free to jump ahead with the Puppy Taining Essentials linked in the comments of the prior email, you'd get them later anyway, but they will help far more now.
      Any probs, let me know


    I have been lucky enough to buy many of the great GSD toys you have recommended in preparation for our new girl, Heidi's arrival this weekend!!! I will save up for the varsity ball next! Keep up the great work on this site, I love it! Look forward to my new emails every day or other. Thanks, Debbie


      You're welcome Debbie, great that you prepare, that's how it should be! If you get her this weekend, much more important than TOYS is SOCIALIZATION. Pl make sure that you have at least studied the Puppy Training Essentials before you get Heidi home, okay?

      There's not a single day to waste with a puppy: The brain structures form in the first 4 to 6 weeks (facilitation)!
      Any problems, let me know. Love your dog!


    I have many of the suggested toys already.
    I do not have the varsity ball and will be making that purchase soon. Still trying to figure out the best way to play with my girls at the same time as my newest girl Ava only seems to want to chase after my older GSD, Abby when she is playing. One on one play time with Ava... she doesn't like to chase toys or play tug. I have found, hide and seek games seem to be more her thing with the toys. We have even used my grandchildrens clothes for her to find and she does it! I will not stop trying with her though, I WILL find her a toy she wants for play time. Thank you for all the great suggestions and advice. Looking very forward to the next periodical!


      Kim, she may be more into games, if you follow our twitter page you'll see there are frequently the games Periodicals linked ;-)


    Thanks for the good advice. I now know what to look for in a play toy, a very helpful bit of information. My dog loves all these type of toys. I didn't realize you should put a time limit on any of them or to present them one at a time. I usually give my dog her choice. And she does chose different toys at various time. So smart. I love her.


    I was pleasantly surprised when I checked on the list you gave for my GSD. It turns out I've got 3 of the 5! Hide a squirrel didn't last long but the squirrels themselves are a big hit with Harley! Chuck it got us through a long winter since we could play indoors! Thank you.


    help i have gone wrong, always let my german have lots of toys.which i may add she has destroyed most within a short time.is it to late to take away toys and leave with only 1?also what would you suggest is best left with her when she is left alone?only just found this site it looks good.many thanks


    Hi, Tim.

    We adopted a young male GSD just over a month ago from a local shelter; my first but not the families first GSD. I am having concerns about him since he doesn't seem to be very active or even interested in play behaviors. We've tried all sorts of balls, puzzle toys, stuffed squeaker toys, even the varsity ball! We already owned most of the toys on the list above and bought the few we hadn't. He's not interested or willing to play with any of them. He's even ignored the frozen toy/treat play toy we make for our golden to keep her happy and entertained. The only time I can get him to perk up and get moving about, rather then laying on his dog bed for hours or just following me around the property, is when I take him on his hour walks or we head down to the lake to exercise our Golden Retriever in the water. I am worried that I am doing something wrong with him by not being able to get him to engage in normal GSD play and mental stimulation. We had a brief issue of him 'attempting' to chase our cats which settled once our cats adjusted to his presence and stopped fluffing up and hissing; so even that brief surge of activity is gone. I am mostly worried that I can't seem to find a positive way for him to express his energy, he has to have some of that typical GSD energy right? and that by not doing so it will cause problems down the line. So far there is no aggression, anxiety, or dominating behavior going on but I am worried that if I can't find a play/enrichment activity to do with him that such will happen.


    We have some of the toys listed and when I get home the puppy and I go out for a walk and play when we return. When my wife walks in and throughout the night all he does is attack her feet and legs even when we are engaged in an activity. How do we deal with the biting behavior at times he escalates it and breaks skin??????


    We were told 2 1/2 when we adopted him, but the vet says he could be as old as 4-5 since he has some 'greying' on his muzzle. Body wise he looks more like a younger dog not quite grown into his paws fully.


      What did the vet say then? Tested for worms? Anything else diagnosed?
      If not, at his age he should be energetic.
      Causes I can think of:
      a) illness
      b) parasites
      c) pain
      d) trauma
      So then the listlessness must be down to trauma, hm? In any case, you must comprehensively socialize the adopted dog like you had a puppy. Else tons of problems down the line.


    Tim , thank you for responding as quickly as you could.

    No, no worms. We checked since he was so skinny at adoption time. Yes, we had him tested for parasites of all types. Even did the heartworm test though it's not too common here in Washington just in case he picked it up somewhere else along his journey here. He was just finishing up a round of antibiotics when we adopted him; kennel cough they told us. We only had to give the pills to him for 4 days before he finished though. He did seem a little more perky after however and coat and gums are much improved. He doesn't seem to be limping or moving stiffly, normal appetite and water drinking from the 4 bowls scattered around the house.

    So trauma then huh? Are there any steps you'd recommend to try and help him learn to enjoy play time?

    We've been doing our best to socialize him by taking him with us when we go dog friendly places like the local Petsmart and the City botanical park- which we've been making extra stops for just that purpose- and visiting all the friendly animals in the area on our walks. So far he does great with all types of farm animals and livestock, just wants to say hello and wag his tail at everyone :)

    Did want to mention we had a small success in getting him to acknowledge a toy a friend recommended; her lab loved it. It was a plush duck that made a honk sound rather then a squeak and he actually looked at it and bumped it with his nose a bit before looking at me like 'what is this thing?' That is the most reaction we've gotten out of him yet.


      Raquel, thank you for becoming a supporting site member as quickly as you can. And before we have turn off the lights here.

      That may then also allow to provide you with more Periodicals = which is what you have subscribed to - but at the moment there are no funds left because thousands of people like you demand my time for free, and I can't work ONLY for free. Surely you know from your own life? Thanks for your understanding.

      This will be an interesting read too: Finished – or "Business as Usual"?

      Edit: Raquel - never seen again. Like I wrote: Thousands of people like you demand my time for free, and I can't work ONLY for free. Surely you know from your own life?


        I had a GSD that was rescued when he was 5 from a home where he was kept in an outside pen as a guard dog from being a puppy and had nothing in his cage except for water and occasional food. He was kept as a guard dog / deterrent. Even when rescued and happily re-homed with us, he NEVER learnt to play even when the others I had were playing and invited him to join them - he just didn't know how! Despite this he had a happy and fulfilled life with us though even though he didn't know how to play..


        Thanks Nic. He probably would have liked our Periodical on dog play language (comes later).
        Indeed, it's not all that rare that we meet dogs who clearly don't know how to play (the difference between play and fight) - because their owners don't know it either (not your case, we haven't met your dogs). Dog play is perfect for socialization - which is what most dogs miss out on as well.


    Hi Tim&GSD folks,,just wanted to say I'm glad I found your website! We have "Stryker",our now 4mo. old Prue-bread GS(missing papers)for about a month now. His best "fun" toy is the "KONG-AIR",which is larger than a tennis ball&makes squeaky noise! I have been very busy with medical issues over the past month,but try to get on your site as I can. I hope to be able to absorb all that you have to offer as soon as my issues are over. So far,I love what you say&do,and will hope to be a member son. Thank you for your "love"and sharing for all of us GSD lovers. Hope to be back to "normal" soon,take care, Jim&Stryker!


      Wishing you a speedy recovery Jim! New pup? Make sure you can tick off all points in the free New Puppy Checklist. As explained elsewhere, doing everything right in the first four to six weeks is most critical.


    Great first read! I feel better about the types of toys I will purchase for my new God puppy.


    Thank you for the info on the toys AND for introducing me to Amazon! I am a new parent to a 1 yr old GSD and this last month I have spent at least $400 on toys, food and other essentials at petsmart. I have bought her a lot of the toys you have recommended, only to find I have paid double the price! We will be getting the Varsity Ball after I give my credit card a break LOL. Thank you again!


      Thanks Jean, yes amazon is cheaper than others (and certainly than petsmart) HOWEVER note that it's not the number of toys that make a dog happy and well-behaved, but how you provide them and how the dog plays with them (and one at a time).

      I am just seeing proof for the above recommendations: Whenever my new pup has several toys lying around (ie I was too lazy/unobservant to pick them up), he is not for a long time interested in any of them, but rather seeking my attention (ie distracting me from work).
      But whenever I stick to my own advice and let him have only one toy at a time, he's busy with that toy AND happy when I swap it for a different one (plus a chew toy is always there for his teeth settlement, actually two, a harder and a softer one).

      His favorite toy is the Kyjen Squirrel trunk (he sticks his head in) AND two of the squirrels (the third one's squeaker wasn't working from the start), and for Together-play we have most fun with the Booda Spearmint Fresh N Floss tug toy, not with tugging though, but in a room corner I entice him to try to catch one end :-) (ours cost a bit more though, in the Periodical above I linked the cheapest, as always, trying to) and with the Chuckit Kick fetch ball - which he can now grab with his teeth and carry it into the goal, so now he is no longer kicking it... :-)


    Hi Tim! I have found a Kong extreme ball for my 1 yr old Zoey. It's on Amazon (hopefully it is somewhat comparable to the Varsity Ball $70+). Even if this Kong ball lasts a month it's still worth the price compared to the Varsity, $12 approximately with s&h.. My question is how do I order the Xtreme Kong ball so that you get the credit???

    Or should I just go with the Chuck It kick it? I don’t let her take toys outside, unless I am with her and the ball seems like a good choice for her to leave and play with outside.


      Jean, your figures are wrong, the puppy Varsity ball is only $23 and the adult one is $40, on Amazon it's $43. Shipping depends on your location.

      Also, you're comparing apples and oranges: the concept of the two balls is entirely different, pl study their descriptions to understand and decide what your dog wants/needs.

      I did not get the Kong extreme ball (but the treat toy with the same name) but the Chuckit kick fetch ball (same concept, thus comparable), and both the dog and I love it.


    Thanks for the information Tim, this is great. Do you have any advice on games to play with my GSD? Also, how do I appropriately have my children correct him when he gets too excited and nips at their hands or feet during play?


      Jessica, the games Periodical comes later, but since you ask so nicely and seem interested now, here it is for you.

      How old are your children? Unless toddler size, show them how to perform Collar Freeze, how to isolate the dog, how to say and show a decisive NO, how to turn sideways from the dog, and basically all the Sedatives and Distraction Tools in the Dog Training Toolkit.


    Thanks Tim, the kids are 12,10,8,7,4,2.I'm not familiar with "collar freeze" but then again, I'm new to this. I have recently begun utilizing the other correction methods you suggested. I'm assuming this is all detailed in the above book you suggested? Would your book also cover leash training? Thanks again...


      The Collar Freeze is even in the free books. Also the Feeding Routine. This must be performed by every child in the household, to be safe.
      With 6 kids of that age, consistency will be the challenge. I don't know how old your GSD is, but if puppy, never leave him alone with a kid (if adult dog, it depends on his observed behavior).
      Pl follow the advice in the (free) books.


    Sorry Tim! I just found Collar Freeze in New Puppy 101! Missed it the first time reading through too quickly! Can't wait to start Toolkit.


    Hi Tim,

    These periodicals are awesome! Thanks for sending this one :) I am a member and loving it! My question is how do I deal with the fact that my 3.5 month old wick will only play with his toys if I play too? I play with him every day all day so he is definitely getting attn, he also goes on 2-3 20 min walks a day. I love playing games and with his toys but obviously sometimes I need to get stuff done! Any helpful hints from you or other readers would be awesome!

    Also if I don't play with him he eats our furniture and carpet ( I'm always watching to stop him) So obviously I put him in a play pen with his toys to keep him safe but he refuses to play and will just lay down instead and whine...And yes I've tried treat toys he just isn't interested in them even if they are foods he loves!!! I'd like to be able to let him play alone for a few hours a day so that I can catch up on house and home work. Thanks for your help!


      Rose, this is tough. According to our Periodical on dog play styles, Wick is not a Solitaire. Sadly, my puppy is neither, he too requires my attention almost all the time, and it too, wrecks my nerves.
      The only solution I know is: Exercise so much that he's tired and sleeps. Works with mine too.
      "he also goes on 2-3 20 min walks a day" - this is obviously insufficient for a GSD, sorry. At that age, mine got at least 100 min walks with runs (mixed), and he required/needed even more. From about 14 weeks, GSD puppies are so full of energy that it's difficult for one person to exhaust them!
      Try the tail teaser (selfmade ok) and entice him to chase it. 10 min gives about 90 min peace/rest time.

      Treats? I use the Kong. I can't believe Wick doesn't eat! Mine doesn't stop.



    I just had to laugh at this because you must know my pain, I can just imagine you millions of miles away as stressed as I am ! I have been walking and playing with Wick since 7 am (it is now 11:39am) and he is just now taking a nap..although if I didn't take him inside he would have happily played in the yard longer!! I read that periodical about play types, and he is definitely a hauler...the most but also every other type besides solitaire (poor me). I can't wait to make him some buddies to help tire him out :)

    He is uninterested in any treats for the most part, some he will take but barely. So far the only three foods that I have found he is seriously motivated about are tuna, plain chicken, and apples. However they still do not distract him from the inhumanity of being left to play alone... go figure.

    Thanks so much for your tips, and I love hearing about your puppy!


    We have a 13 week old GSD, and this is my first dog ever, so I am devouring any info I can get my hands on so that we can raise him right ( within our limited budget). Raising a puppy seems to have many similarities to raising a child! Fritz definitely loves playing with a variety of toys, and following your advice seems to make sure he never gets too bored with any of his toys, or possessive. And one thing I realized is that, just like a child, he will outgrow some of his puppy toys, and need bigger and different toys as he grows and matures. It has been a bit of a challenge for me, learning how to interact with a dog (I've always been a cat person, ha!), but I'm learning. Thanks!


      Oh Julie, you will see, dogs are SO much easier to interact with. :-D


    Loved reading this article and the great ideas for toys. I am using your advice and only allowing Axel (9 week old GSD) to play with one toy at a time and for only specific periods of time. I am going to purchase the Varsity Ball as it appears to be one of the best, safest toys out there. Keep up the great work and advice for all of us !!


    Please be careful when recommending kong products. A few weeks ago there was a story (yahoo or msn) about a family pet dying from choking on one and I personally had a dear friend who lost her lab when a piece broke off and lodged in the dogs throat and she suffocated. My friend almost lost 2 fingers trying to remove the piece from the dogs throat. my friend was several feet away when it began, so it wasn't negligence. Please rethink use of this type of toy.


      There are stories about everything, and every brand, Barb. I remember many more than this one.
      Please read every Periodical unbiased, here you'll then notice clearly several points that discount any particular toy problem, with any brand. And that's crucial, because if you don't consciously take in the clear points made above, then you may at some point notice a problem with your dog, with any toy, with any brand.

      In My New Puppy Diary you would see how early I take note of toys about to disintegrate - and really, you should too, everyone should. Because all toys disintegrate, except the Varsity Ball (reasons above as well).


    My 4 year old, recently adopted does not seem interested on toys. He does not chew on anything and is very well mannered but other than our daily walk he does not do any other activity. What do you recommend? Id love him to be happy.


    Thank you for the advice. I've got some shopping to do!


    Great article, playing is so very essential for GSD's. I have 4 y.o. Nike, female, 3 y.o. Chance, male, and 1 y.o. Tika, female all of whom have different playing styles and favorite toys. Their most favorite toy is each other, the two youngest are constantly playing together only stopping to nap or eat. The black Kong toys are by far the most durable, the ones that can be filled with treats (peanut butter is the favorite of our pack, they have their own jar of crunchy style in the cupboard), but they also make a ball which I've had since Nike was a puppy and is still going strong. Chance loves to chew on tennis balls like they are bubble gum, exercising his considerable jaw strength and is a joy to see him leap into the air to catch the ball when you throw it to him. Tika on the other hand has a distinct fondness for sticks, she's collected quite a number of them every time we go for a walk. If I don't allow her to bring a stick with her she immediately sets out to find one and brings it to me to throw for her to retrieve. Nike's game is keep away, it doesn't matter what toy she picks up, she wants me to try and take it away from her, then when she's finished she brings me the toy so we can play tug a war, she also plays tug a war with the other dogs. I haven't tried the varsity ball, but I occasionally buy basketballs while I'm restocking tennis balls, Nike's second favorite past time is to tear the cover off of any tennis balls Chance doesn't split open. The basketball only lasts until one of the dogs gets ambitious enough to try and pick it up with their mouths, which results in a puncture. With the three babies I have we need every possible combination of toy, but they don't last very long except for the Kong toys. They all love chewing Nyla Bones but they will chew them down to nubs if I don't take them away for a while.


    Tell me what it LIKES!!!!!!


      Yes, very good, glad you like it too. And whow, you are from Milan Area Schools too? Cool.

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