This is our recommendations for gifts for your best friends–your dogs–whether for the holidays or whenever–each of these toys was tried and tested by hounds who, as a breed, are pretty stubborn as playtime goes.  Each toy below passed their scrutiny with flying colors.  Ultimately your dog wants you, your time, and a warm home.  But some of these items will help you connect with your dog.

We bought more than one of some of these over the years, usually so individual dogs didn’t have to share, like the Twist’n’Treats.  Only one of these on the below list ever broke–the Tug-a-Jug–because a human dropped it onto a hard floor and the base cracked, and we replaced it, but over the years we bought at least three and the dogs loved them.

Always monitor your dogs when playing with toys.  Pieces can be chewed off quicker than you might think, and you don’t want an emergency room visit to have something removed if swallowed.  We suggest avoiding toys with “squeakers”–these get removed by dogs easier than anything else and can also be swallowed, choke a dog, or otherwise block her system.

This PetSafe brand Twist’n’Treat rated #1 with our dogs.  It unscrews so you can put small treats, kibbles, or biscuits inside.  It’s easy for a dog to chew, and it takes some time and effort for your dog to unscrew it to get the prize inside.  It’s also easy to tighten it over time after it gets easier for the dog to figure out.

This PetSafe brand Tug-a-Jug rope toy and treat dispenser is a big hit.   Two dogs will play tug-o’-war with it, and if a person holds it, as many as three dogs can take turns pulling the rope down to release a kibble treat.  The holes at the bottom allow the scent of the treats inside outward to attract your furry friend.  It unscrews simply to add more treats or to clean it.

Do you have a dog who loves to work his brain? Then this one is for him/her.  It’s a casino with slots and removable toys for dispensing treats.  Your dog will figure it out, component by component.  Drawers open only after the dog figures out how to remove the bone pegs on top.  It’s from Outward Hound, and you can’t go wrong with any of their educational pet toys.  Make sure you monitor use on this, especially with a bigger dog who might be inclined to chew the plastic bone parts.

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