Herding dogs are intelligent and hard working. Without routine exercise and stimulation, those qualities can lead to negative behavior. This article will discuss five highly recommended toys for herding dogs that are sure to keep your pup on their best behavior, including our favorite…
We will also tell you what you should know so you can buy toys your herding dog will love.
What To Know About Herding Dog Toys
Herding dogs were bred to work hard and play hard. Owning a herding dog is a rewarding experience, but they can also be a handful if you’re unprepared. You may live in a city where cattle and sheep are nowhere to be seen, but that doesn’t mean that you can take the herding out of the herding dog.
Their instincts are still just as present. Without the right tools to keep your herding dog happy, you may grow frustrated by their behavior. Let’s dig into the factors you should look for in toys that will meet the needs of your herding dog.
Types of Toys for Herding Dogs
There are many different types of dog toys out there, but which one do you want for your dog in particular? You may even decide that you want one of each! The type of skills you want to teach your dog may help determine what type of toy you should buy.
If you’re not particularly interested in teaching your dog any specific tricks, then you should consider your dog’s temperament and what their habits are. Generally, toy types can be broken down into: fetch toys, chew toys, rope toys, and interactive toys. Let’s take it a step forward and explain the differences.
You’re likely familiar with fetch toys. They can include different types of balls, frisbees, launchers, and sticks.
You might use them indoors, outdoors, or in water. Fetch toys are great for exercise and endurance training. Whether you purposefully use fetch toys for teaching your dog retrieving skills, you’ll enjoy getting their excess energy out they’ll enjoy the shared playtime.
Chew toys are a godsend for energetic and hard-working breeds. They help keep your dogs chewing focused on appropriate items and curb misbehavior. For highly intelligent dogs, like herding breeds, chewing toys are great for mental stimulation and preoccupation. Chewing toys should be durable and without small parts to help prevent choking.
Rope toys are my little herding dog’s personal favorite. He’s a Miniature Australian Shepherd and he loves to chew, fetch, and tug on rope toys.
Rope toys are great for bonding and if you have multiple dogs like I do, they can enjoy playing with the toy together. Tug-of-war is an obvious game to play with a rope toy, but they can also be used to play fetch.
Interactive type toys make great toys for herding dogs. Herding dogs are highly intelligent and can learn a number of complicated tasks.
To keep your herding dog happy, you should consider buying an interactive toy to keep them mentally stimulated, even when you’re away from home. These toys can be designed with puzzles and compartments for treats and hidden prizes.
Features to Consider When Choosing Toys for Herding Dogs
Dogs, in general, can be destructive and tough on toys. Toys with high-quality materials and durable designs will be more likely to last through all the abuse your dog inflicts on it. If your dog likes to play outside, consider whether the toy can handle water and sun exposure.
If your dog is a chewer, you may want to pay extra attention to the quality of the materials. If your dog is a herding dog, you should assume that whatever toy you purchase them is going to get a lot of action, so pick your materials wisely.
You should purchase a toy that is appropriately sized in accordance with your dog’s size. Small toys may be a choking hazard for large dogs. If your toy is too large or heavy, then smaller dogs may struggle to play with it and give up trying altogether.
Generally, size also depends on the type of toy you want to purchase and the type of play your dog will use it for. For toys that may get time in the water, you should choose a toy that will fit well in your dog’s mouth and won’t allow them to accidentally swallow water.
Herding balls, on the other hand, should be large enough that your dog is unable to pick it up, while also not so big that your dog can’t push it around. It all comes down to what works best for your specific pup and how they like to spend their time.
Safety should always be an important design focus with any toy. There are several points of interest to consider when you’re evaluating the overall safety of a toy. As mentioned before, size is an important feature, since small toys can be swallowed by large dogs.
Speaking of choking hazards, toys with squeakers may need to get checked off your list if your dog likes chewing. My Miniature Australian Shepherd is notorious for destroying plush toys. I know if any of those toys have squeakers inside, he will find a way to access them.
Toys that can be machine washed are great options since they can easily be disinfected. Finally, many manufacturers now advertise that their toys are chemical-free. It’s always a plus if you can purchase a toy that is non-toxic.
You’ll notice that some toys designed specifically for herding dogs are heavier than other dog toys. For instance, herding balls can be filled with water, sand, or gravel to add extra weight.
These balls are designed to aid in herding training, so if you’re interested in building your dog’s natural skills, you may want to consider a toy with a little extra weight, like a herding ball. Our favorite toy, the Jolly Pets Push-n-Play Ball, is an example of a toy ball specifically designed for herding dogs.
If you’d like to see a dog playing with a herding ball, you can watch this video:
Herding balls can be left to roll freely or be weighed down for a heavier push. As you can tell from the video, herding these toys is a challenge dogs can’t resist.
Our Favorite Toys for Herding Dogs
The Jolly Pets Push-n-Play Ball is highly trusted by herding dog owners because of its hard durable plastic and skill-building success rate. It’s perfectly designed for herding dogs and can be purchased in several different sizes. The balls are intended to be large and heavy so your dog can push it around, mimicking the feeling of herding a real animal.
They can be weighed down with water, gravel, or sand. The size, constant motion, and weight make it a great tool for exercising those important herding dog muscles.
- Made of a hard plastic to keep your dog’s teeth from damaging it
- Can be purchased in varying sizes to fit your dog
- Reasonably priced
- Available in three color options
- Mimics the feel of herding large animals
- Your dog will be entertained for hours trying to unsuccessfully pick the ball up with their mouths
- Designed to be pushed around the yard to reinforce herding skills
- Designed to float in water
- Can be weighed down with water, gravel, or sand
- Heavy, but not so much that you can’t throw the ball across the yard
- Some buyers complained that the toy was a little too durable and wore down their dog’s teeth
- Some buyers reported that after suffering some abuse, the exterior of the ball could develop sharp ridges that may scratch your dog’s nose, though sanding down the ball with sandpaper alleviated this issue
The launcher holds most standard size balls and is excellent for herding dogs that like to chase and retrieve. It’s also a great tool for waring down those highly energetic pups who need to run themselves to sleep. The launcher is also great for helping build and increase stamina.
The launcher is ergonomically designed for your comfort so you can play for hours. Perhaps the greatest feature is its hands-free ball pick up design, so you never have to touch a slobbery ball again.
- Ergonomic design for your personal comfort
- Inexpensively priced
- Made of durable lightweight plastic
- Hands-free ball pick up so you never have to touch a gross slobbery ball
- Allows you to throw balls much further
- Great for energetic dogs
- There are multiple sizes to fit and hold whatever ball size you commonly use
- Compact for easy transportation and storage
- Helps save your arm
- Can also be used with standard size tennis balls
- Easy to clean
- Ideal for outdoor use, wide-open spaces, or for launching across the water
- Depending on where you make your purchase, you may be unable to choose your preferred color
- A small number of buyers complained that the handle is not padded, though this was a rare complaint
I’ll go ahead and put myself out there and say that this toy is pretty darn cute. It’s highly interactive and great for hide-and-seek games. It will help build your dog’s problem-solving skills and keep them curious and occupied.
It’s affordably priced and can be purchased in several different sizes depending on the age and experience of your dog. The small plush squirrels also squeak, which is an added bonus for dogs who love auditory stimulation.
- The toys can be kept together or separate during playtime
- Affordably priced
- The smaller toys are great for hiding and playing fetch
- They include squeakers for dogs who enjoy auditory stimulation
- Interactive and cognitively stimulating
- Can be purchased in varying sizes
- Great for dogs with excess energy
- You can purchase other small plush animals to refill the stump
- Soft and plush
- Can be cuddled during naps
- May not be ideal for active chewers
- Squeakers may be a choking hazard for dogs who like to destroy plush toys
- Some dogs may require supervision while they play with this toy
I personally cannot say enough about Chuckit! products. Their rubber balls are practically indestructible. I’ve already mentioned my Miniature Australian Shepherd, but I also own three other dogs.
My Labrador Retriever-mix, German Shepherd, and Siberian Husky all love the Chuckit! Ultra Ball and for good reason. Their rubber material is durable and feels good to chew on. They have a great deal of bounce and are designed to float in water. They also fit in most standard ball launchers, including both manual and automatic launchers.
- Comes in several sizes so you can pick the size that’s right for your dog
- Designed for outdoor, indoor, and water play
- Extra-thick rubber for durability
- Fits most standard size ball launchers
- Inexpensively priced
- Can be purchased in multi-packs
- Easy to clean
- Available in most retail stores and online
- Can be purchased in a variety of designs and styles to fit your dog’s favorite kind of playtime
- Highly visible
- A few pet owners reported that the ball faded when left out in the sun, though this was not a common complaint
- The rubber can make a lot of noise while your dog is chewing on it, which may be distracting if you’re trying to concentrate on other tasks
The Nina Ottosson Outward House Puzzle is highly recommended for herding dogs as an interactive and stimulating toy. Your dog will love trying to figure out the puzzle and finding the hidden treats.
It is designed for curious dogs who like to physically manipulate and explore objects. It’s also a great training tool because it helps your dog learn to associate treats as rewards for successfully completing tasks.
Again, herding dogs like to think and they like to learn and perform complicated tasks. This great cognitive toy will keep your dog mentally preoccupied and stimulated even if you’re not in the room.
- Has no removable parts so you won’t need to worry about hunting down small pieces or your dog chewing and choking on loose parts
- Easy to clean
- 7 treat compartments with sliding cups and flaps
- Toy is easy to clean and dishwasher safe
- You can purchase other toys by the manufacturer with varying levels of difficulty if your dog gets bored or if you want a simpler puzzle
- Durable composite material
- Buyers reported that the puzzle was sturdy and not easily knocked over
- May not be ideal if your dog is an active chewer
- A few buyers complained that the compartments were too easy to open, so simple swatting at the toy could accidentally open compartments
Wrapping Up: Toys for Herding Dogs
In our opinion, the Jolly Pets Push-n-Play Ball is a herding dog toy that is hard to beat. It helps build all those core skills herding dogs need to succeed and will keep your dog healthy, strong, and mentally stimulated.
Your herding dog will love pushing this ball around for hours! It is made with tough plastic and can be purchased in whatever size fits your dog best. It’s highly trusted by herding dog owners and definitely a top competitor in the herding dog toy world.
Toys that stimulate the mind are great for herding dogs. Puzzles, games, treat dispensers, and hide-and-seek toys are fantastic toys for keeping your dog mentally captivated.
Toys that can handle and support the needs of herding dogs should be durable, safe, mentally stimulating, and physically motivating.
Herding dogs require extra time and patience, but they are incredible dogs that we can personally learn from. They love completing tasks and are always eager to work and play.
We hope that our article gave you some great tips and that our recommendations helped you narrow down your choices.