We absolutely adore families and that includes man’s best friend, too… Dogs, of course! There’s nothing more we love than seeing families bring a pup into their life. Dogs can cheer us up, become our best friends, and be loyal and protective members of a family. But, of course, they really love doing one thing: Playing! It doesn’t matter what size or breed your dog is, chances are that they absolutely love play time. It’s easy enough for dogs to learn how to use a toy since their long genetic history helps them to do so, but sometimes the type of toy you choose can make all the difference. There is a myriad of options out there from squeak toys to actual dog puzzles and everything in between. What we wanted to know, however, is what would be the most conducive to a dog’s training, learning, and health.
Toys have the capability to improve a wide variety of skills based on the type of dog that you own. They can offer anything from increase snout-sniffing skills to common logic and inference. Not only is this a method of self-training, but it’s also something that they thoroughly enjoy doing! We’ve never seen a dog sniff a toy and seemingly say, “Nah, I’m not interested in this” and we’re sure that won’t happen with any of these, either. We’ve done our job to look high and low for the most brilliant dog toys available out there now in order to ensure that your furbaby has only the best.
Table of Contents
- 10 Best Interactive Dog Toys Reviewed
- 1. Outward Hound Hide-A-Squirrel
- 2. Kong Jumbler Large/X-Large
- 3. KONG Wobbler Treat Dispensing
- 4. Trixie 32026 Flip Board
- 5. West Paw Zogoflex Tux
- 6. ZippyPaws Farm Pals Burrow
- 7. Outward Hound Nina Ottoson
- 8. Ethical Pets Spot Seek-A-Treat
- 9. SNiFFiz SmellyMatty
- 10. FurryFido Treat Dispensing
- Criteria Used in Evaluation of the Best Interactive Dog Toys
- The Importance of Play
- Training with Dog Toys
- The Difference Between “Comforting Toys” and “Active Toys”
- Dog Toy Safety
10 Best Interactive Dog Toys Reviewed
Highly versatile Serves as an appropriate reward system Encourages dogs with squeak toys Will provide hours of playtime Comes in four different sizing options The plush toys can easily be ripped open during rough play
1. Outward Hound Hide-A-Squirrel
This is one puzzle that will never get old for your dog. Each squirrel can be hidden in a different hole and the more you switch it up, the more your dog will learn. It's great to ward off boredom and provides a suitable form of play.
What We Like About It
The versatility of this toy is something that we really appreciate. As opposed to most dog puzzles that are straight-forward and only have one use, this one has several. It can be used as a reward or just a way to entertain your dog when they're feeling a bit restless.
Serves as an appropriate reward system
Encourages dogs with squeak toys
Will provide hours of playtime
Comes in four different sizing options
The plush toys can easily be ripped open during rough play
Highly durable Great for large dog breeds Can be used indoors or outdoors Good for hefty chewers Most toys will fit inside It is somewhat pricey
2. Kong Jumbler Large/X-Large
There's some decent versatility when it comes to using this Kong creation. You can shake it, roll it, or even play tug of war with your dog in order to keep them from getting bored. This toy also floats which would make it a great pool or water toy as well.
What We Like About It
The indestructibility of Kong toys is what has us so enamored with them for larger dog breeds. Toys such as these can go through plenty of abuse and withstand it all, making them one of your dog's favorite toys, too.
Great for large dog breeds
Can be used indoors or outdoors
Good for hefty chewers
Most toys will fit inside
It is somewhat pricey
Dispenses food or treats at a steady pace It helps to keep dogs active Can be used for training Good for all sizes and breeds Easy enough to figure out while still providing a challenge It's not really a "chewing" type of toy
3. KONG Wobbler Treat Dispensing
This toy serves a purpose that you might not think of, but may be helpful for some pet owners. A common problem, especially among dogs, is rapid eating. In order to alley this a bit, the Kong can be used for feeding time and will only spill out food at as quick a rate as your pup can "wobble" his or her toy.
What We Like About It
This Kong serves a variety of purposes and we're here for every single one of them. Kong is still one of the leading brands in tough dog toys and it's easy to see why. This is one option that we'd take for any pup because treats really do make the world go round!
Dispenses food or treats at a steady pace
It helps to keep dogs active
Can be used for training
Good for all sizes and breeds
Easy enough to figure out while still providing a challenge
It's not really a "chewing" type of toy
Slightly challenging Will improve your dog's skills Built-in reward system Good for all breeds Encourages the bond between pet and owner Not every dog will be interested
4. Trixie 32026 Flip Board
Not only will your dog be learning as they go and learning how to rely on their natural instincts, but you'll be strengthening your bond with them as well. Many toys require solo play and will allow your dog free reign to chew or squeak their toy on their own, but this one will help bring you closer and encourage trust.
What We Like About It
This puzzle seems more challenging than it actually is and we love that it will encourage a reasonable amount of logic on the part of your dog without being impossible. It's a fun way to help hone their natural skills and acts as its own reward system.
Will improve your dog's skills
Built-in reward system
Good for all breeds
Encourages the bond between pet and owner
Not every dog will be interested
Can be stuffed with anything Helpful for aggressive chewers Can be used as a training toy Highly durable Will last for months Smaller treats are likely to fall out easily
5. West Paw Zogoflex Tux
This is the perfect training toy for dogs that just can't seem to stop chewing. This can be a very problematic habit not only because of what can be destroyed but because not everything dogs chew on is safe for them. This toy will redirect their attention and give them something safe to chow down on without putting them in harm's way.
What We Like About It
What you stuff inside this toy is up to you and that's what makes it so great. You can store frozen treats on hot summer days or even fill them with bits of dog food or your pup's favorite treats. Either way, they'll be distracted enough to investigate their new favorite toy a bit further.
Can be stuffed with anything
Helpful for aggressive chewers
Can be used as a training toy
Will last for months
Smaller treats are likely to fall out easily
Good for small and medium dog breeds High reusability value Hones natural skills Plush provides a soft feel Squeaky toys encourage longer play The plush won't hold up to aggressive chewing or tug of war games
6. ZippyPaws Farm Pals Burrow
This toy can be easily reused time and time again in order to ward off boredom and have your dog practice their burrowing skills. Each squeaky plush toy can be placed in a different location, making the game unique and different each time it's played.
What We Like About It
While many toys are designed for medium to large dog breeds and aren't necessarily small-dog-friendly, we love that this one is. Many small dogs don't need something that's built for aggressive chewing or durability and this is a great option for them.
Good for small and medium dog breeds
High reusability value
Hones natural skills
Plush provides a soft feel
Squeaky toys encourage longer play
The plush won't hold up to aggressive chewing or tug of war games
Challenging but not too difficult Can be filled with any type of small treats Suitable for slowing down eating habits Encourages basic reasoning skills Easy to clean It might get boring for dogs after they figure it out
7. Outward Hound Nina Ottoson
This puzzle is super easy to clean which is also what puts it fairly high on our list of favorite puzzle-themed toys. With a little soap and water, this toy will be ready for use again in no time.
What We Like About It
There are two different ways that dogs can work their way into each treat holder. The first is by flipping a door open and the second is by knocking the cover off each one. This teaches your dog how to use logic and reasoning in order to find the hidden treats inside.
Challenging but not too difficult
Can be filled with any type of small treats
Suitable for slowing down eating habits
Encourages basic reasoning skills
Easy to clean
It might get boring for dogs after they figure it out
Adequately challenging Can be filled with different treats Encourages a bond between pet and owner Can be used with cats as well Easy to clean and sanitary Some pets might get frustrated or bored
8. Ethical Pets Spot Seek-A-Treat
Just because this toy says it's great for use by dogs doesn't mean that it can't be used by other pets, too. Cats will also benefit greatly from a puzzle such as this, as they're analytical creatures by nature.
What We Like About It
We like that this toy provides somewhat more of a challenge than the others. It takes treat-hunting to the next level and will really encourage pets to work for what they're smelling.
Can be filled with different treats
Encourages a bond between pet and owner
Can be used with cats as well
Easy to clean and sanitary
Some pets might get frustrated or bored
Useful for training Can help fast eaters to slow down Can be filled with kibble or treats Helps to hone natural skills Easy to use and properly challenging The fleece pockets can rip if tugged on or chewed
9. SNiFFiz SmellyMatty
This mat serves as a great distraction for dogs who are easily nervous or scared as well. It provides a fun, yet easy, challenge, which will help them to remain occupied and ward off boredom.
What We Like About It
This unique take on a traditional hunt-and-sniff toy is truly one of a kind and will have your dog sniffing their favorite mat even when there's no kibble in it. It's versatile and great for training, but also a great source of random fun, too.
Useful for training
Can help fast eaters to slow down
Can be filled with kibble or treats
Helps to hone natural skills
Easy to use and properly challenging
The fleece pockets can rip if tugged on or chewed
Great for all ages and breeds Easy to fill Useful for puppy training Can encourage slower eating habits Strong and durable Some of the paint can flake off if your dog is a strong chewer
10. FurryFido Treat Dispensing
This is a great training toy for dogs of all ages and breeds. It helps them to slow down while eating but also encourages them to get the proper amount of physical play into their routine.
What We Like About It
This toy doesn't take much effort to make work, in fact, it really takes none at all! Simply fill it and await your dog's curiosity to peak as they sniff around and realize the goodies you've hidden for them inside.
Great for all ages and breeds
Easy to fill
Useful for puppy training
Can encourage slower eating habits
Strong and durable
Some of the paint can flake off if your dog is a strong chewer
Criteria Used in Evaluation of the Best Interactive Dog Toys
Dogs can be challenging to figure out sometimes which is why we’ve come up with a solid list of criteria in order to determine what’s great and what’s not. Depending on the size and breed of your dog, you might notice that you have a strong chewer on your hands or maybe a seeker — One who loves to destroy a toy in order to find the “squeak” inside of it. All dogs have the natural instinct of “play” but that comes from a descendant line of wolves. Since wolves are designed to hunt, feed, and protect their young, dogs have picked up some of those similar attributes in the form of loving treats, engaging fully in play time, and being loyal to their families, usually of which there is one they consider to be an “alpha”. It’s due to this that dogs still get grand pleasure out of new toys and being given the chance to display skills that have been passed down a long line of evolution. If you’ve ever sat back and watched your pup play, you’ll notice how truly interesting it is to see how they do it and what their goal or mission is for the toy at hand.
By taking this into account, we were able to seek out dog toys that were sturdy, durable, and would last through even the toughest of pups. While there’s never a guarantee on how long a specific dog toy will last — it all depends on the amount of play and type of play — these are intended to have a reasonable life. We’ve selected things that would challenge, peak curiosity, and offer a reward to your pup in exchange for figuring out how to properly play. All of these qualities, when combined, created what we believe to be the perfect toys for dogs.
The Importance of Play
For starters, dogs need toys because they’re restless by nature and need something stimulating so that they don’t get bored. Additionally, dogs help to fuel natural instincts but also provide an adequate tool for behavior training as well. Depending on your dog, you might notice that your pup needs something that’s highly mentally stimulating while others need something that’s very active and physically engaging. Every breed is different and that’s something to research on your own in order to learn more about your dog’s personality.
A good way to know if your dog needs something much more stimulating is by paying close attention to their habits: Do they chew things? Are they somewhat lazy and seemingly uninterested in you or others? Do they run around the house and get what is called “zoomies”? Or perhaps your pup displays spiteful behavior when you’re not home, such as going through the garbage or exploring areas they know are off-limits. All of these are signs that are indicative of your dog needing increased physical activity. Boredom can be destructive for dogs as they’re a naturally active species, which is why toys are so important. Walks are an excellent source of activity and will help them to run down some of their energy, but toys are a great solo venture and will prove to be useful when they’re not outdoors.
Training with Dog Toys
This can be especially helpful for puppies and young dogs but still holds true to older, adult dogs as well. Similar to treats, toys can be seen as a reward for good behavior. They can also be used as a distraction, such as immediately giving your dog their toy as soon as the doorbell rings or if they see the mailman and get wound up. Toys can be key to breaking this habits because as soon as a dog’s focus is broken, they’ll be attentive to you and what’s in your hands. You might have seen Caesar Milan on Dog Whisperer and noticed that his goal is always to break a dog out of their focus if they’re engaging in a poor behavior. Using a toy is a good way to initiate this and it’s healthier than constantly handing them treats. Dog toys can also be a reward for good behavior, such as when your dog sits, lies down, goes to their bed, or refrains from barking at someone new. If this action is repeated, they’ll eventually associate their good behavior by receiving their toy, thus enforcing their training.
The Difference Between “Comforting Toys” and “Active Toys”
First and foremost, active or “distraction” toys are what most owners are familiar with. These are any toys, such as a kong, that are able to be played with fairly heavily while withstanding long-term, intentional use. These are great for things such as chewing, rewards, and keeping your dog active and in shape. Active toys are good for the overall health of your pup and will keep them both mentally and physically stimulated, and that’s what we’ve included on this list. What you won’t find on here are “comfort toys”. Comfort toys can be anything that your pup enjoys carrying around, cuddling with, or playing within a gentle way. This could even be something like a shirt, pillow, or blanket that connects them to you. This comfort item is helpful for their mental well-being and serves as a soothing item for when you’re not home or not playing with them, and it’s something that shouldn’t be turned into an active toy. By having both of these, your dog will have a solid balance of toy variety that should keep them healthy mentally as well as physically fit.
Dog Toy Safety
Regardless of how safe a toy seems, you should always inspect each toy thoroughly after your dog has finished playing. They’re not like humans and are actually very akin to babies in the sense that they don’t realize what’s not good for them. While the products on our list are certified “safe“, you never truly know if your dog will accidentally rip one open or chew a piece off and end up swallowing it. You should always allow your dog to play within view of you and if you find that their toy has been damaged in some way, don’t continue to let them play with it — They’ll likely give you puppy dog eyes (literally!) but you could be saving them from disastrous consequences further down the line. This is especially important when it comes to toys that have a squeaker in them, as dogs are naturally drawn to finding and destroying it.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: How would I wash these?
A: For the hard rubber toys, a damp cloth is suitable for wiping down the surface of toys. They shouldn’t get too dirty unless your dog is bringing them outdoors. For the fabric and cloth toys, it’s best to avoid cleaning them often and if you do, ensure that you’re using a pet-friendly and pet-safe soap — Or you could just wash them with hot water, ensuring they’re completely dry and cool before giving them back.
Q: How many hours should I allow my dog to play each day?
A: That depends on the breed type and how interested your pup is in playing. More hyper dogs, such as Jack Russells, huskies, and Staffordshire terriers, will need more time each day to play and will be very receptive to walks in between. More laid-back dogs, such as bulldogs, spaniels, and pugs, won’t need to play as long and will likely do so at their own leisure.
Q: I don’t think my dog likes this toy. How can I get them interested?
A: Easy! If your dog finds that you’re interested, you can easily engage them as well by simply waving the toy in front of them, speaking in a playful and encouraging voice, and getting them to chase the toy a bit.
Q: How will I know if my dog enjoys puzzle games?
A: There’s really no way to know this for certain and it may take some time before your dog fully gets the hang of it. Keep in mind that you’re introducing them to something new and unique and that they might take a bit to comprehend what it is they’re meant to do. Their goal is always to please you by remaining loyal, so be sure to praise them appropriately when they do something right while playing with their puzzle. Show them that there are hidden treats to find and encourage them to sniff others out. It’s work, but it’s worth it!
Q: Will these need to be replaced often?
A: That all depends on how much of a chewer your dog is. You might find that some toys last months while others only last a few weeks. Dogs need constant stimulation so if you notice a toy starting to go, it’s time to move onto something new and fun.
Q: What else can these be filled with other than treats?
A: You can try things such as a little mashed-up banana or peanut butter (all-natural, of course). All these “human foods” should be given in moderation, though — Be sure not to overdo it.