I have a very active 1-year-old golden retriever/Australian shepherd mix. He loves chewing on bones, but he can be occasionally food aggressive towards my partner and I, and our other dog. We control when he has access to food, but we'd like him to have something that he can chew on to occupy himself when we're busy.

At a friends' house last weekend, he was chewing on a fake plastic bone. I noticed that this kept him interested, just like a real bone, but he wasn't being defensive with it (he does not defend toys at home, just bones and food).

I'd like to get him something like this to play with, but would prefer to avoid plastic both for environmental and health reasons (he's found to ingest some plastic which doesn't sound healthy). I'm wondering if there are other alternatives beside plastic? For instance, I remember seeing antlers at a pet store. Does anyone have any experience with these, or something else?

2 Answers 2


What we do is use Kongs.

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We soak some dog kibble in boiling water, wait for it to turn into a paste and then stuff it into the Kongs. Put these in the freezer and then use them as treats.

There’s not a huge amount of food there, but it’s in a form that keeps the dog occupied for quite some time.

Our Labrador can and will chew most things to distruction but he’s not managed to destroy a Kong.

  • The question ask especially to avoid plastics. Rubber toys are in this category for me. Do you have alternatives? (I like the Kong too, even it is artificial, it lasts (nearly) a whole dogs live, so is much better than buy one after one plastic toy) Nov 3, 2021 at 11:16

There are solid rubber bones or rods, like these random examples:

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The toy should:

  • be solid rubber or a similar elastic material. A hollow sqeaky toy is too flimsy for the jaws of a Labrador.
  • not have a pungent smell. A slight rubbery smell is ok, but a strong chemical smell is a no-go.
  • should be wider than the muzzle of your dog. Most bone-shaped toys have thick ends and a narrow center. If the center is narrower than your dogs jaw, the teeth get squished together every time he bites down, which can lead to malpositioned teeth.

There are also rope toys, but if your dog chews on them until individual threads come loose, you need to replace the toy. If a strand is swallowed, it can get caught in the intestine and (best case) require an emergency operation or (worst case) lead to death. Read more about the safety and risk of rope toys in this question.

  • What is about the worries of the questioner? No plastics (in my understanding rubbers fall also in this category)? Do you have experience with antlers? :) Nov 3, 2021 at 11:14
  • 1
    @Allerleirauh I guessed OP meant hard plastics, which can injure the intestines or leak softening agents into the body if ingested. From a biological point of view antlers are just external bones. Depending on where you live it can be hard to find any or they might have been treated with chemicals to preserver them (or to avoid insect infestation of warehouses and shops). Our dog loved the smell of antler when he had the chance to get one, but his jaw was too weak to actually chew it.
    – Elmy
    Nov 3, 2021 at 15:06

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