Dog toys are designed for fun, but the best ones should also engage certain innate dog traits, such as hunting, exercising and interacting with other dogs as well as favorite people. This keeps dogs both physically fit and mentally stimulated. Here are six of the latest toys I saw at the recent Global Pet Expo in Orlando that check all those boxes.
Planet Dog Orbee-Tuff LINK™
Made of durable Orbee-Tuff material, these translucent links can be joined into different shapes for diverse levels of difficulty to keep dogs engaged. They can be filled with favorite treats to keep the entertainment simultaneously rewarding. Designed for dogs of all sizes, this treat-dispensing puzzle toy will keep you involved, too, as you create fun configurations for your pup(s). Orbee-Tuff LINK sets are available in Royal Blue/Clear and Orange/Clear color combinations and are sold in four- or eight-piece sets. planetdog.com
The Petlogix Zinger
The Zinger launcher offers a variety of interchangeable toys, making playtime more fun and exciting for you and your dogs. And its hands-free pickup means you won’t ever be slimed by a drooled on toy. There’s a Zinger for medium and large dogs and one, the Zinger Junior, for small dogs and puppies. The Zing Shot accessory toy has a tennis-ball felt texture; the Zing Cube is a soft square for use in smaller environments and the Zing Bumpy, with its uneven surface has an irregular bounce. All the Zing Toys float and are designed for beach and pool water games. www.pet-logix.com
Kurgo Yard Games
Based on popular children’s yard games such as badminton and jacks, these fun, floatable toys from Kurgo provide you with new ways to play with your dog. The Wapple Ball, inspired by the classic Whiffle Ball, has an irregular bounce and can be used with a bat, tennis racquet, lacrosse stick or a standard-sized ChuckIt!—or you could go completely old school and simply throw it. The Tossing Disc is a rough- and-tough version of the traditional Frisbee; the Backyard Birdie replicates a game of badminton with your pooch; and the Target Jack is designed to land with its point up no matter how hard or far you throw it. There are more toys in the range and all are available from www.kurgo.com.
P.L.A.Y. International Classic Toy Collection
Want to indulge your pooch with a tempting buffet of calorie-free food? Well, now you can with a new collection of toys from P.L.A.Y., which includes a pretzel, taco and sushi. The taco has fun detachable components and the sushi pieces are connected by a sliding rope for a fishy game of tug-of-war. Each toy comes with a squeaker inside and is filled eco-friendly PlanetFill® that is made from 100% post-consumer certified-safe recycled plastic bottles. The toys are sold individually and in gift box sets. petplay.com
Nina Ottosson Dog Treat Maze
This treat-dispensing toy from Nina Ottosson, the queen of canine puzzle toys, offers dogs a wacky and unpredictable game of fun as it wobbles and flips, dispensing its tasty treat prizes. It can also be used as a fun bowl to keep dogs working for their food. Designed for dogs or all sizes and ages, it is available in fun two-tone colors. outwardhound.com
The goDog RhinoPlay Toy Line
Of all the colors in the spectrum, dogs can see blue, yellow and gray, which is why goDog’s RhinoPlay line of dog toys feature the first two hues. Made from an environmentally safe and nontoxic foam called PopFoamNT™, RhinoPlay toys can never be punctured and will hold their shape even with the toughest of chewers. They come in four shapes—Vexo, Flip, Circ and Beast—and two sizes: regular and junior. rhinoplay.com
 Coren, S. Ph.D., F.R.S.C (Oct. 20, 2008). “Can Dogs See Color?” PsychologyToday.com
About the Author: Sandy Robins is the 2013 winner of the “Excellence in Journalism and Outstanding Contribution to the Pet Industry Award.” Her work appears on many of the country’s leading pet platforms, such as MSNBC.com, MSN.com and TODAYShow.com. She is a regular contributor and columnist in multiple national and international publications, including Catster, as well as the author of the award-winning books “Fabulous Felines: Health and Beauty Secrets for the Pampered Cat” and “For The Love of Cats.” Learn more about Sandy on her website or Facebook page. #welovecats