One of the greatest joys of having a dog is playing with them, sharing happiness and excitement together, and developing a strong bond between pet and owner. But if your furry friend is getting tired of their mangy old ball or chewed up bone, it is time to look for something a little more interesting.
All sorts of interactive dog toys are available these days to provide you and your pet with hours of fun, mental stimulation, and physical exercise. Not only are toys great for entertainment, but they also play a role in shaping your dog’s behavior, alleviating boredom and anxiety, and influencing their development.
While having a wealth of different smart dog toys to purchase is a great thing, it can also provide the challenge of not knowing which one to choose. Never fear; we have helped to simplify this task with our buying guide of some of the top products available, as well as a rundown of the features that make each one of them so special.
The Best Dog Interactive Toy
If your dog loves to bolt after a squirrel every time they get half a chance, this is the ideal toy for them! Fun and interactive, your dog can play their very own game of hide-and-seek as they try to get each one of the furry critters out of the tree. Each one comes with its own squeaker, and once they have dug them out, you can use them for indoor games of fetch.
Four different sizes are available depending on the size of your dog and how much space you have available in your home. This is the kind of highly engaging toy that your dog can use on their own or with you.
Challenges problem-solving skills finding hidden squirrels
Removable toys with squeakers for indoor fetch fun
Four sizes for different dogs
- BrandOutward Hound
- Weight1.25 lbs
Not only does your dog have the fun of knocking over this wobbler toy, they have the added incentive to keep playing thanks to the treats which you can hide inside! At the top is a twist-off dispenser which allows you to easily refill the toy when the treats have run out.
Just a few of the canine issues that this dog food puzzle can help to solve include chewing, teething, separation anxiety, and boredom. However, you should make sure that you supervise your dog whenever they are using this Kong interactive dog toy.
Classic dog food puzzle toy
Refillable with twist-off dispenser
Suitable for dogs weighing 25-pounds or more
- Weight1.1 lbs
Another option in the treat-dispensing toys category, this one is large enough to fit whole meals inside! Providing hours of mental stimulation and physical activity, the dual chambers can dispense both treats and kibble.
And if you feel like your dog has become too good at getting the treats within, you can present them with a greater challenge by reducing the size of the openings. This is one of the best dog activity toys for preventing the destructive behaviors associated with boredom.
Weighted wobbling bottom
Offers mental challenge and physical activity
Dual chambers with adjustable openings
- Weight1.5 lbs
We all know how much dogs love playing with balls, and they will love it even more if the ball is filled with their favorite treats! As your dog is playing and rolling the ball around, treats will fall out to reward them for their activity. You can adjust the ball to provide a higher level of difficulty as needed.
And when you need to clean the toy, you can simply twist it apart for convenience. It is ideal for both small and medium-sized dogs.
Promotes physical activity and mental stimulation
Adjustable openings for added difficulty
Twists apart for easy cleaning
- BrandOur Pets
- Weight4.6 oz
Large interactive puzzle toy
Three squeaky toys included
Ideal for independent or supervised play
- Weight10.4 oz
A toy which is suitable for dogs of all ages and sizes, the Wobble Wag Giggle Ball has been specially created to help keep your furry friend happy, healthy, and fit. And it is also the kind of toy which you can use indoors or outdoors as you would like.
Built into the ball are six clutch pockets which allow your furry friend to easily pick it up and throw it around. It also helps to keep them entertained with the fun giggle sound which it emits whenever it is rolled or shaken.
Indoor or outdoor use for dogs of all sizes and ages
Clutch pockets for easy pickup
Emits giggling sound when shaken or rolled
- BrandAllstar Innovations
- Weight1.1 lbs
Dogs who are looking for more of a challenge will be delighted by this interactive dog toy, which rewards them for correctly opening various inner compartments.
Start by placing their treats in any or all of the compartments. The unique design means that the cones cannot be knocked over and instead need to be lifted straight up, while the non-slip rubber base ring will hold in place. To increase the difficulty level, you can vary the number and placement of the treats.
Board game with two cones and indentations with hinged lids and sliders
Increasable difficulty level depending on your dog’s skill level
Includes booklet with tips and tricks for better training
- Weight1.1 lbs
A treat-based interactive toy with a difference, your dog needs to think to be able to access the food lying within. Made from a sturdy wooden construction, six sliding disks cover up the treats and your hound has to work out how to move them.
Since this toy presents a challenge to your pet, it helps to eliminate the boredom that can end up leading to negative and destructive behaviors.
Made from sturdy wood, safe on your dog’s teeth
Interactive toy to help boost IQ
Reduces boredom – can be played alone or together
- Weight1.63 lbs
Rather than simply giving your dog a treat, this meal dispensing toy encourages them to really work for it! As your dog rolls it across the floor, it will randomly dispense their favorite snacks. To refill it, you can simply twist apart the two sides. And when it comes to cleaning, you can wash it by hand or in the dishwasher.
This particular toy is recommended for larger dogs of over 20 lbs and helps to stimulate all five of their senses.
Unscrewable toy for easy filling and cleaning
Made from non-toxic plastic
Perfect for slow treat dispensing
- Weight12.8 oz
Choose from seven different types of animal types, and your dog will spend hours digging them out of their dens! And when your pooch finds them, they can play with each of the toys individually as it contains a high-quality round speaker for added entertainment.
Not only is this a beautifully-designed and unique product, but it also encourages the kind of interactive play which provides hours of entertainment.
Seven types of animals and dens
Great for small and medium-sized dogs
Stimulates interactive play
- Weight0.64 oz
A treat-dispensing toy which is designed to stimulate your dog’s mind while also offering them the chance to ‘win’ their favorite treats, entertainment is in no short supply with this interactive puzzle. You have the option of leaving your dog to chew it on their own or you can play games of toss and fetch together.
Made from highly durable Zogoflex material, it is completely dishwasher safe when you need to clean it and it floats if you want to play in the bath.
Perfect puzzle for tough chewing dogs
Suitable for individual or supervised play
Fillable with a wide range of treats
- BrandWest Paw
- Weight11 oz
Test your dog’s natural foraging skills with this easy-to-fill feeding mat. It also engages your dog’s sense of smell, encouraging them to hunt out the treats that you hide within using a combination of their nose and their brain.
Suitable for any age and breed of dog, you can simply throw it in the washing machine when you want to clean it. And ethical buyers can rest in the knowledge that is has been sustainably handmade from a combination of virgin and upcycled materials.
Promotes natural instincts
Sustainably produced toy
Suitable for all types of dog
- Weight1.4 lbs
A toy which is specifically designed for puppies, it is gentle on your young dog’s teeth while also being compatible with a wide range of treats including dry and wet food, kibble, and smerables such as peanut butter. If things become too easy, you can simply twist the two pieces to adjust the challenge level of this interactive puppy toy.
It is dishwasher proof and easily refillable when your puppy has managed to access all the treats that lie within!
Suitable for puppies under 10 lb. and under 6 months
Compatible with a range of treats and food
Washable in the dishwasher
- Weight2.4 oz
Suitable for both dogs and cats, this toy is made using non-toxic soft, non-abrasive safety rubber material. All you have to do is fill it up with your pet’s favorite treats and watch them roll it around as they try to get them out.
As well as encouraging mental sharpness, it also develops physical fitness at the same time. Healthy teething for your pet is another advantage provided by this product which massages the gums, as well as increasing the strength and endurance of enamel.
Rewards healthy play
Discourages destructive behavior
Suitable for cats and dogs of all sizes
- Weight2.4 oz
Physical and mental stimulation are combined in this treat puzzle dog toy. Three different treat feeding features are included, as well as the 20 easy open-close flip compartments and removable bone puzzle pieces.
When you need to clean the toy, you can do so by hand with some warm soapy water, rinsing it out, and drying it as needed.
Three ways to play
20 treat compartments
Four removable bones and eight openable and slidable pieces
- BrandOutward Hound
- Weight1.6 lbs
Best Dog Interactive Toys Guide & FAQ
Things to Consider When Buying Puzzle Toys for Dogs
Before you decide which of the dog activity toys you would like to buy, there are a few points that you need to consider to help you choose the right one.
- Level of Mental Stimulation
While physical exercise is obviously highly important to your dog, you also need to provide the same stimulation for their minds as well. Mental exercises rely on the firing of nerve cells in the brain. Generally, if more neurons are activated, it is better for your dog. Canine puzzle toys are an effective way of enhancing brain development, and the best ones provide hours of stimulation. Some toys allow you to set the difficulty level yourself, allowing you to help your dog improve. Some distribute treats randomly, while others are much more focused on boosting your pup’s problem-solving abilities.
- Exercise and Weight Management
Many of the toys which we have reviewed in this article offer physical exercise as well as mental stimulation. Ball toys encourage your dog to chase after them to access the treats hidden within. You can also throw them around in a simple game of chase or fetch. The same goes for the soft dolls included in many of these toys for bored dogs. And when it comes to weight control, many of these puzzles are specially designed to release treats slowly, helping to slow down overeaters and rapid consumers.
- Suitability for Your Dog
Some of the toys which we have talked about are specially designed for smaller or larger dogs, while others are more universal. Some are meant for puppies, while others are created with adult pooches in mind. A few products even specify that they shouldn’t be used by tough-chewing dogs as they can cause damage to their teeth. You should read through all the specification and match them up with your dog before choosing the one which is best.
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Why You Should Use Dog Interactive Toys
There are plenty of clear and measurable benefits which your dog will experience from using interactive toys for pets. Let’s look at a few of them in closer detail right here so you know exactly what you are getting for your investment.
- Alleviating Canine Boredom
Just as you get bored when you are sitting around doing nothing for an extended period of time, the same goes for your four-legged friend as well. And when they get bored, they can start looking for their own entertainment which may or may not include destroying some of your treasured possessions and/or your house! Providing them with dog puzzle toys will direct their attention into positive pursuits which are mentally and physically stimulating. Remember, some toys require supervision. If you plan on leaving their toys out to keep your mutt entertained while you are out of the house, make sure that the instructions say that you are safe to do so.
- Preventing Dog Anxiety
Dogs can also feel anxious as well, and these feelings are often brought on when they don’t have anything to do. Give them some interactive toys which provide hours of entertainment and you can help to keep these feelings of anxiety at bay. Mental stimulation can also help your dog to feel happier and more fulfilled in their life.
- Creates a Closer Bond Between You and Your Pet
While many of these toys are for individual play, they can also be enjoyed together as well. When you play with your dog on a regular basis, you are helping to forge a stronger bond between you and your furry friend. This is the kind of relationship which will last for life if you give it the proper amount of nurturing and attention.
- Endless Entertainment
Unlike simple toys which provide limited entertainment and often end up being discarded very quickly, interactive dog toys are specially designed to have a longer shelf life and keep your pooch engaged endlessly. Many of these toys also have the added incentive of containing treats to make their appeal even stronger! Providing regular mental stimulation is one of your most important responsibilities as a dog owner to ensure that your four-legged friend remains an active and engaged member of your household.
- Physical Benefits
We have already talked about how toys for dogs can help to keep your furry friend active, bringing all the health benefits associated with exercise, toning muscles, reducing the risk of obesity, and helping the body and metabolic system to function properly. Many puzzle toys are also effective in exercising your dog’s jaw muscles and promoting strong dental health by giving them something to chew on whenever they like.
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Other Ways to Stimulate Your Dog's Mind
As we have already discussed, puzzle toys are an excellent way of stimulating your dog’s mind. But there are also plenty of other ways of doing this as well.
- Let Your Dog Sniff and Explore
Dogs are naturally curious creatures with an adventurous spirit. When you are taking your dog out on a walk, give them the opportunity to stop and sniff around. Even if you have walked down the same path every day, new and exciting smells are always appearing for your dog! This kind of sensory stimulation is great for their mind.
- Teach Your Pup New Tricks
You may have already taught your dog the basics when it comes to tricks, but this doesn’t mean that you have to stop. A new trick or command helps to improve mental stimulation, as well as boosting your dog’s confidence, focus, impulse control, and forging stronger links between canine and owner. Of course, this is an activity which takes a bit of time and patience, but it also one which is ultimately worthwhile.
- Teach Your Dog the Name of Toys
Starting one at a time, you can teach your dog the name of their toys. This takes a lot of repetition and praise whenever your dog picks up the right toy after you say the name. Once they know one, you can start adding more into the mix. And after they know a couple or more, you can hide the toys and get them to bring them to you.
- Walk on a New Route
It is a nice experience to take a different route on your regular walks, both for your dog’s mental stimulation, and your own as well. New sights, new smells, and the possibility of encountering new dogs are all highly exciting and stimulating activities for your pooch!
Best Dog Interactive Toys FAQ:
Q: What are dog interactive toys and how do they work?
A: Interactive toys are specifically created to provide your dog with mental and physical stimulation. Often, they involve a problem-solving element and treats which are dispensed when your dog completes a task. Otherwise, they could include toys which are hidden for your dog to find. They work in a variety of different ways, but all revolve around puzzles of some kind and are suitable for dogs ranging from puppies to adults.
Q: Do dogs need mental stimulation?
A: Providing mental stimulation is one of your most important responsibilities as a dog owner. Boredom can cause your dog to tear up the house, bark all the time or go through other behavioral difficulties. Studies have also shown that mental stimulation can also alleviate anxiety and increase happiness levels. Just like their other muscles need exercising on a regular basis, your dog’s brain is the same. Otherwise, this can end up leading to premature aging. If you have a puppy or a younger dog, mental stimulation can help to teach them good habits, as well as keeping older dogs mentally active. And many puzzle games also help to boost interactivity and closeness with your furry friend as well.
Q: How can I tire my dog out?
A: When a dog has too much energy which is not directed in the right places, they can end up becoming hyperactive. While the point of exercising is not to totally exhaust your dog, you should be aiming to tire them out. We have already talked about how interactive toys play a central role in this task as they provide mental and physical stimulation. You should also be aiming to create a routine for your furry friend which is active and fun. Making sure that you take them out for regular walks is an important aspect of this. While you are out with them, you can also take part in some classic games like chasing a ball or frisbee, as this also provides you with the opportunity to practice some commands like catching, releasing etc. If there is a place that you can take your dog swimming, this is another great way of tiring them out physically. As for the mental side of things, you can try teaching them new commands, playing hide and seek with the names of their toys, or taking them to new places where that can enjoy a host of new sights and smells.
Our Top Pick
Outward Hound’s multi-purpose and interactive Hide-a-Squirrel Puzzle is our favorite of the products on the list. Fill it with the stuffed animals and your dog can sniff out and hunt the creatures hiding within. And when they dig them out, the squeaky squirrels can be used for a classic game of fetch or a simple toss-around. You could even hide the toys around the house and get your dog to seek them out. This is the kind of toy which can be played with your dog individually or together with you.
Four different sizes are available depending on the size of your furry friend. As well as providing mental engagement, this toy challenges your dog’s problem-solving abilities as well. So, if you want to help your dog battle boredom, this is an ideal toy to accomplish this task.
Outward Hound Hide-A-Squirrel Puzzle Squeaking Dog Toy