Just like humans, your dog needs mental stimulation too. This can come from playing with you, going for a walk or running around the back garden. But as a dog owner it can be difficult to balance spending time with your dog with other things going on in your life, and this is where dog toys can be really great. Interactive dog toys are something that your pup can play with for hours on end, keeping them excited and active and eliminating boredom. This mental and cognitive stimulation from the toys also helps with their overall psychology, making them generally happier canines and easier to live with and train.
There are so many different toys available for your pup that it can be hard to know which one to choose. Which one is going to ensure they have the most amount of fun? Which one will keep them entertained the longest? Should I get a dog toy that dispenses treats? Luckily for you, we have put together a buying guide below so you can know everything you need to about interactive pet toys and pick the right one for your pup.
What Are Interactive Dog Toys?
Interactive dog toys are any kind of toy that keeps your dog mentally stimulated and engaged. Dogs are sociable animals and need to be engaged with on a daily basis. This isn’t such an issue if you have multiple pets, because they can play with each other and keep each other entertained. But if your dog comes from a single-pet home, they will need a few interactive toys to keep them going — as well as lots of attention from you!
There are a range of different toys out there today. You as a pet owner as spoilt for choice. There are puzzle toys that your dog may have to solve, with some puzzle toys dispensing a treat once completed. There are other treat toys where you hide a treat and your dog has to find a way to get it out. Also, there are electronic toys that use lights and sounds to keep your dog entertained, as well as tension toys and ball launcher toys. All these toys come in different shapes, sizes and textures and it will be up to you to decide which is going to be best for your doggie, because no two dogs are the same!
Benefits Of Interactive Dog Toys
We have already mentioned above some of the benefits of interactive dog toys. First and foremost, an interactive dog toy gives your dog something to play with. This keeps them both mentally stimulated and ensures they aren’t bored. Life home alone while you’re out at work can be uneventful for a doggo, so having a few toys to play with or puzzles to solve can help the time go by until you’re home and ready to play with them. These toys can also help to improve their concentration and puzzle-solving skills, which can be particularly useful if you are training your dog or trying to get them to listen to your commands.
By keeping your dog occupied with a toy, it takes their mind off doing anything they shouldn’t. If they’re chewing on a toy then they’re not going to be chewing on your furniture. Toys can also be a great way to help your dog get rid of any anxiety they may be feeling. It may sound silly, but dogs can feel anxiety just like humans and it can come out in the form of barking, chewing, biting or other destructive behavior. Giving them a toy helps them to concentrate on something else and reduces this kind of behavior.
Another great feature of certain interactive dog toys is that they can help slow down fast eaters. A lot of dog owners have problems with their dogs eating their dinner too fast but, with an interactive toy, the notion of eating can become more like a game where they have to work to get the food out.
What To Look For In Interactive Dog Toys
There are a few things you should look for in an interactive dog toy to make sure it is the right one for your doggo.
Firstly, size is very important. If your dog is small, they’re not going to do very well with a big toy. Likewise, if your dog is big and the toy is small, they can always risk swallowing it. You should pay close attention to your dog’s jaw size and movement when choosing a toy. Some dogs have a very soft bite and won’t be able to handle very hard toys that could end up hurting them. A soft and squishy toy is better for dog’s with a soft bite, whereas a harder plastic toy is better for those dogs with a firmer bite.
The difficulty of the toy is another factor to take into consideration. Dog toys generally come in three levels of difficulty — level 1, level 2 and level 3. Level 1 toys are easy and are designed for dogs who have no real experience with playing with toys. The Level 2 is a little more complex and may be a harder puzzle, and level 3 is the hardest level.
Level 3 will require your dog to complete a number of challenges in order to get the treat at the end. The level you pick for your dog will be based on where they are mentally. Puppies may need an easier toy because they are still young and learning, whereas adult dogs may be able to complete a harder toy. Remember, if you pick a toy that is too hard, your dog will lose interest.
There are three different types of material that generally make up the most popular dog toys — plastic, rubber and plush. Plastic toys are extremely durable and will last your pooch a long time. Rubber is another popular material for dog toys, which you usually find in balls or chew toys. Plush toys are toys made out of softer material. These are generally not as “interactive”, but dogs still love them!
You do not want a toy that makes a great deal of noise. Of course, if you are out all day and your dog is left alone, they can make as much noise as they want to (only if your neighbors are okay with it!). But a squeaky chew toy is going to make an annoying noise if you’ve just come in from a long day at work. That being said, the more noise a toy makes, the more likely your dog is to play with it, so it is up for you to decide!
Many toys out there today are treat dispensing dog toys. These kind of toys are very popular because dogs love treats! These can come in the form of puzzle toys, where your dog has to work to get the treat out, or toys where you can hide treats in different compartments and they have to discover them. Adding treats into toys is a known way to keep your dog playing with a certain toy for years on end.
You always want your dog to be safe. Ensuring the toy is safe before purchasing is extremely important, so you can be sure your dog doesn’t swallow any loose parts and it doesn’t affect their health in any other way. Luckily, all the toys on out list are safe.
If you’re ready to find the right interactive dog toy for your pup, take a look at the best pet toys we recommend below. They are all available to you on Amazon.
The Best Interactive Dog Toys Reviewed
The Wobble Wag Giggle Ball is a toy designed for dogs of all ages and sizes. Made from flexible and durable pet safe, phthalate-free vinyl, this toy comes with six clutch pockets so your dog can easily pick up the toy and play with it. Inside there are tubes that makes noises when the ball is either rolled or shaken, enticing your dog to play and keeping them on their toes. Because of it’s unique shape, a small nudge with your dog’s nose and the ball will begin to move, keeping them entertained with it’s unpredictable movements. Even better, there are no batteries required for this ball to work so you can let your pup play with this toy as long as they want.
The West Paw Design Zogoflex Bumi is a tug and fetch toy that can stretch to twice it’s length for extra fun. Perfect for playing with your dog or for giving two of your dogs to play together, the unique “S” design make it perfect for fetching and tugging while its bright colors make it easy to find. This toy is perfect for playing both indoors and outdoors with, especially in the snow or in water. The tough and durable design make it perfect for heavy-duty tug sessions, yet easy on dogs’ mouths and gums. Made in the USA, this toy is BPA and phthalate-free and FDA-compliant so is therefore very safe for your pup to be using. It is also dishwasher safe.
The Pet Qwerks Talking Babble Ball is a motion activated interactive dog toy that starts when touched. Enticing your dog to play, the babble ball talks to your dog, encouraging them to have fun during playtime and chase the ball with over 20 funny sounds and phrases. The Babble Ball automatically turns itself off until your dog activates it again, keeping the need for replacing batteries to a minimum. The battery replacement is easy, nonetheless, and a battery should last anywhere between four to six months.
This toy is made from a high-impact ABS construction and is very durable, making it extra safe for your dog. It also comes in three different sizes based on the size of your dog, so you can makes sure the ball fits with their jaw.
This throw and fetch toy from West Paw is called the Zogoflex Zisc and is very similar to a traditional frisbee. However, the Zisc is extremely durable except very soft on your dog’s mouth, perfect for those doggies who have a softer bite but still love to run and fetch things. The bright color means it can be used anywhere without it getting lost, even in the snow or in water. The material is BPA and phthalate-free, non-toxic and FDA compliant, making it very safe, and it is also dishwasher safe. You can purchase this toy in two different sizes — 6.5 inch and 8.5 inch — based on the size of your dog’s mouth and their needs. It also comes in a range of other bright colors.
The Kong Squeezz Ball is a durable dumbbell shaped toy that can be used for throwing and fetching, or just if your dog loves to chew. With a built in protected squeaker, this toy keeps your dog on their toes as they play with it. It is also bounceable, giving your dog unlimited play. Because of it’s bright color you can use this toy both inside and outside without worrying about losing it. The toy also comes in a range of different colors and shapes, including a ball, bone, ring and stick, so you can keep your dog interested. It is also available in small, medium and large sizes, based on the size of your dog and the size of their jaw.
The Hide A Squirrel interactive toy from Outward Hound is a plush tree trunk with stuffed squirrel dog toys. The multiple plush squirrels have hidden squeakers, designed to attract your dog’s attention and getting them to hunt and sniff them. The aim of this puzzle toy is for your dog to extract the squirrels from their tree trunk home, but the squirrels can hide at the bottom and the attached trunk top makes it trickier for your dog to remove them! Even better, the squirrels are removable and can be used for games such as fetch too. You can purchase this plush dog toy in four different sizes, depending on both the size of your dog and the level of difficulty they require.
This Ottosson Puzzle Brick also from Outward Hound presents your dog with a challenge, rewarded by treats. This interactive puzzle dog toy comes with 3 different treat feeding features. Firstly, there are easy open-close flip compartments to hide treats in. There are also separate, removable bone puzzle pieces that offer an even more interesting challenge for seeking and eating treats, and, lastly, your dog can easily slide and move each flip compartment to reveal even more hidden treats underneath in the hidden space.
The challenge of trying to extract the treats from this toy ensures your dog is mentally stimulated, engaging them and ensuring they aren’t bored, with the promise that they will get treats at the end. This toy falls under the level 2 category of difficulty, so you should work your pup up to challenges like this. This toy is made from plastic and is easy to wipe clean with soap and water.
The VARRAM Pet Fitness Robot is the perfect interactive toy if you are a dog owner who has to leave their dog alone all day and worry that they are not only bored, but they aren’t getting enough exercise. This robotic toy plays with your pet by zooming around the room and rewards their interaction by dispensing treats. With 16 different preset modes, this toy moves in many different ways, keeping your dog entertained and unsure of what it is going to do next. It also works on multiple floor surfaces.
This toy can be controlled from your smart phone and you receive updates about how your dog is playing with the toy too, receiving your pet’s fitness statistics. It is durable and made to last, with a plastic casing for extra safety. It is made from poly-carbonate material and is also easy to clean.
The SNiFFiz SmellyMatty snuffle mat is the perfect interactive toy for those dogs who eat too quickly. You can hide their treats or kibble within the many hiding places in this snuffle mat and they will have to seek them out using their nose — not only slowly them down, but also stimulating them mentally as they seek the treat. With many different areas on the mat, there are different difficulty levels so it is perfect for puppies right through to adult dogs. You can always switch up your hiding spots too of course, just to keep your dog guessing.
This toy is perfect for every breed with every mouth shape and is both safe and durable. Made from fleece and oxford fabric, the mat has a non-slip bottom and an anti-flip structure for large breeds. It is also machine washable.
The StarMark Bob-A-Lot is an interactive toy that dispenses treats. With a weighted bottom, this toy rolls around and wobbles, enticing your dog to play with it with it’s movements. As your dog rolls it around, they understand that there are treats inside that they need to extract through the hole. The large chamber inside the toy is also big enough to fit a whole meal, so if your dog is one who eats their food very quickly, this might be the toy for them. Although this treat dispenser wobbles around the floor it is not loud. It is made from hard, durable plastic and will not break even if your dog pushes it around. It is also available in two sizes, depending on the size of your pup.
Another interactive toy similar to the Hide A Squirrel toy we mentioned above, this Woodland Friends Burrow from ZippyPaws challenges your dog to extract the plush chipmunks from their wood log! With three squeaky chipmunks included, the noise entices your dog to dig for them and pull them out. You can stuff the chipmunks right inside the log or have them poking out through the holes, depending on the challenge you want to give your pup. The chipmunks can also be removed and used to play fetch with.
Keeping your dog entertained and occupied, the plush material of this toy is great for dogs who do not have a strong bite and need a softer toy. It is perfect for small dogs and medium sized dogs.
Tux is an extremely tough and durable treat dispensing interactive toy from West Paw. You can stuff treats inside this toy and leave your dog to keep themselves entertained while trying to extract them. Keeping your pup mentally stimulated, this dog chew toy will ensure they won’t get bored and they will love the reward they get when they figure out how the toy works! You can put any kind of food inside the Tux, induing their kibble, apple slices, carrot sticks or even broth if you freeze it. This toy is designed for even the most aggressive chewers and is made from safe, BPA and phthalate-free, non-toxic, FDA-compliant plastic. It is made in the USA and is also dishwasher safe.
This swinging dog puzzle toy from Maoyea gives your dog a fun and interactive way to retrieve their food. You can hide their kibble or treats in the transparent container and the spring ensures the container moves around, giving your pup a challenge. Inside the container are bells too to attract your dog’s attention as they move the spring. The unique design can help to slow down dogs that eat too fast, while also stimulating your dog mentally. The toy can be fixed in smooth places such as on ceramic tile, wooden floors or glass. It is made from highly durable, non-toxic ABS material, with the spring being made form stainless steel with good elasticity and no chance of rust.
“Consuela the Cactus” is an interactive 2-in-1 stuffed plush dog toy from BarkBox. Densely packed with fluffy stuffing, this toy is designed to be destroyed, with an even smaller toy inside the outer toy. The smaller toy inside is a squeaker which your dog will reach when they rip the outside of the toy open. The squeaking inside keeps them entertained and interested in the toy too. This plush cactus is perfect for games of fetch or tug-o-war and is made from non-toxic material that ensures it is safe for all dogs. This particular toy is designed for medium to large dogs, although there are other sizes and shapes of toys available.
The Pet Zone IQ Treat Ball dog toy dispenses food and keeps dogs mentally and physically active while they play. You can add treats or their kibble into the toy and they must work out how to roll the ball to get the food to fall out. Your dog will get smarter the longer they play with this as they work out which way to roll the ball to extract the treats. You can also adjust the inside disc to change the difficulty of the ball.
This interactive ball is designed to both limit the number of treats given to your dog during play time, while also slowing down how quickly they eat the treats or their kibble. The ball is made from hard plastic and disassembles for easy cleaning. It is available in two sizes — 3 inch and 4 inch — depending on the size of your dog.
The Outward Hound Nina Ottosson Dog Tornado toy is a level 2 dog puzzle, designed for smart dogs. With twelve different compartments at three different levels, you place treats inside the toy and let your dog try to extract them — all while the toy spins as they nudge it. You can also choose to cover some of the filled compartments with added bone toys, making the game even harder as they try to get the treats out. This toy will keep them mentally engaged as they try to retrieve either treats or their kibble from the different compartments, and can also help to slow down fast eaters. This toy is made from plastic and easy to clean with soap and water.
Another toy designed to help slow down fast eaters, the PAW5 Wooly snuffle mat is perfect for hiding different treats or dog food. Putting your dog’s nose and brain to work and mimicking the hunt for their prey in the wild, your dog must seek out the food in the mat between the grass-like strands. This mat will keep them entertained for a long time and it is perfect for dogs of all ages, sizes and breeds. Easy to fill, this mat is durable as well as easy to clean, so you don’t need to worry about your dog ripping the mat up in order to get the treats out. Even better, this mat is sustainably handmade from a combination of virgin and upcycled materials.
The Trixie Mad Scientist toy is designed for dogs who love a challenge. For dogs at an intermediate level, this interactive toy has for different compartments, each with a different challenge to master in order to retrieve a dog treat, including lids, flaps, knobs, ropes and drawers. The four boxes can be placed on the base and arranged in different configurations to keep your dog excited and entertained and you can vary the number and the placement of treats to increase the level of difficulty.
Made from plastic, this toy is dishwasher safe and has non-slip rubber feet keep the game in place as your dog explores. It can also be added on to other Trixie Mad Scientist products to create the ultimate challenge for your pup.
The PetSafe Busy Buddy Tug-A-Jug is an interactive dog toy that provides multi-sensory stimulation to keep your pet engaged for longer. Designed for those dogs who eat too quickly, you can fill this toy with your dog’s kibble to give them a challenge. The unique tug rope design helps to stimulate your dog mentally, all while getting them to work and play to eat it. Standing up to strong chewers, this toy is very durable and is made from durable, non-toxic materials. The textured rope and rubber also helps to clean your dog’s teeth as they chew. It is also easy to hand-wash. This Tug-A-Jug comes in three different sizes, so you can pick the right size for your doggie.
The GoughNut TuG toy offers your dog a virtually indestructible toy to chew on. Keeping them entertained and giving them something to chew on other than your furniture, this interactive toy is designed for even the toughest of chewers with the strongest jaws. Made in the USA, it is made from strong rubber, although it is very safe and designed to work alongside your dog’s mouth. At nine inches long, this toy is made for larger dogs and is the perfect toy for you to play tug-o-war with them with or to simply throw for them to fetch. Perfect for your strong dog, this toy is available in a number of colors too.
Interactive dog toys are a great way to keep your dog mentally stimulated and to ensure they aren’t bored. With so many different toys out there on the market today, you have such a choice, including shapes, sizes and different materials. Whether you want a toy that dispenses treats, a toy where your dog has to solve a puzzle, or a squeaky chew toy, there will be one out there that meets both you and your dog’s criteria. Remember to always ensure the toy is safe before purchasing and check the size of the toy against your dog’s mouth to make sure it can’t cause your canine friend any harm.