Providing appropriate mental and cognitive stimulation for dogs while allowing them to have fun reminds more of the aims of early childhood development. It is for this reason that interactive toys for dogs are highly recommended to help promote a more well-balanced temperament, making dogs a lot easier to train and helping minimize canine behavioral issues that stem out of boredom and frustration. Picking the right interactive plaything for your pooch need not be difficult. You can start with our list of the 10 best interactive toys for dogs.
Our Top Picks for the Best Interactive Toys for Dogs:
1. Wobble Wag Giggle Ball Dog Toy by Allstar Innovations
One of the interactive dog toys that you might want to buy for your pooch is the Wobble Wag Giggle Ball. It’s a ball after all and everyone knows just how much dogs love chasing after balls. The thing with the Wobble Wag is that it has a very uneven surface that it can go any direction at any moment.
Sounds and giggles are emitted from the Wobble Wag every time your pooch gives it a push. Picking it in its mouth is quite easy, too, since there are already built-in clutch pockets for your dog’s teeth to latch on. Forget your tennis ball for a while and use the wobble Wag instead.
- Irregularly shaped ball with flattened surfaces for unpredictability
- Emits giggles and other sounds when rolled
- With 6 clutch pockets for easy pick-up
- Constructed of durable and pet-safe material
2. Hide-A-Squirrel and Puzzle Plush Squeaking Toys for Dogs by Outward Hound
Playing to the predatory instincts of dogs is the name of the game of Outward Hound’s Hide-A-Squirrel and Puzzle Plush Squeaking Toys. These dog puzzle toys mimic a tree stump complete with holes upon which you can hide the accompanying squirrels. Your pooch will have a heyday trying to sniff through the holes and attempt to pull out these furry toys.
Of course, you can also throw or toss the squirrels so your pooch can go and fetch them for you. Both the tree stump and the squirrel toys of Outward Hound are made of safe materials so even if your hound does decide to keep it in its mouth, you’d still feel safe.
- 2-in-1 play mode: standalone plaything and toss and fetch
- Tree stump hideout design with 5 holes
- Includes from 3 to 6 plush and pet-safe squirrel toys
3. StarMark Bob-A-Lot Interactive Dog Toy
StarMark’s Bob-A-Lot Interactive Dog Toy reminds us of the Classic KONG except that this one has only one bulbous container. It is more like a really fat and short bowling pin with 2 compartments that hide 2 of your dog’s favorite treats. It comes with a mechanism that allows you to change the size of the opening of the treat dispensing toy. At least, your pooch will have all the time to figure out how to get those tasty treats from the Bob-A-Lot.
These toys to keep dogs busy are so popular nowadays and the Bob-A-Lot simply goes with the flow. If any, its weighted bottom should add a certain level of challenge not seen in other dog activity toys.
- Treat dispensing toy with fully adjustable openings
- Dual chamber for different kinds of treats
- Weighted bottom for wobbly effect
4. Zogoflex Tux Interactive Treat Dispensing Dog Chew Toy by West Paw
The Zogoflex Tux is an interactive dog toy that we honestly think draws its inspiration from the Classic KONG. Instead of having 3 progressively smaller balls stacked one on top of another the Zogoflex Tux has 3 balls attached centripetally. On hindsight, the Zogoflex resembles an oversized finger fidget spinner. There’s a hole under the Zogoflex and this is where treats are supposed to come out. How? It’s up to your dog how it intends to manipulate the 3 circular knobs to widen the opening at the bottom, making the Zogoflex
Tux one of those dog puzzle toys that are quite fun to give to pooches. It’s perfect for water-related activities, too, as the Zogoflex Tux is highly buoyant. It can be thrown or tossed, too.
- KONG-inspired treat dispensing design
- Extra-strong and durable construction
- Free from BPA and phthalates
- Bounces, floats, and dishwasher safe
5. Monkey ‘n Banana Burrow Squeaky Hide and Seek Plush Dog Toy by ZippyPaws
These three squeaky monkeys hiding inside a fat and short yellow banana from ZippyPaws is currently one of the best dog toys money can buy. These puppy toys are perfect since they are made of pet-safe materials and are also gentle on the still-soft jaws of puppies.
Like the Outward Hound, the ZippyPaws monkeys can also be used in toss and fetch play activities while the banana can be played with in a tug with your pup. However, we don’t necessarily recommend this as your young pooch might rip apart the banana. At least, these interactive puppy toys are sure to keep your young dogs busy.
- Plush and soft whimsical banana hideout
- 3 small plush and squeaky monkeys
- Safe for small and medium sized breeds
6. Talking Babble Ball Dog Toy by Pet Qwerks
Dogs love playing with balls. And when you have a talking ball like the Qwerks Babble Ball you can just imagine the curiosity in your dog’s face as it tries to figure out where the 20 wisecracks and other sounds are coming from. This interactive dog toy is sure to raise the brows of your pooch for a long time. The sounds are activated by the ball’s movement and automatically stops once the Babble Ball also stop moving.
Available in 3 sizes the Babble Ball can be used as great interactive puppy toys especially if you want them to develop their intelligence. The only downside we see in the Babble Ball is that it has electronic parts. If this inadvertently ventures into a puddle or perhaps be soaked in your dog’s saliva, then there might be problems. Plus, you’d need batteries to keep it running. It’s got a friendly price for an electronic toy though.
- Motion-activated talking ball with 20 sounds and wisecrakcs
- Auto shutoff
- Durable construction
- Requires batteries to operate
7. Wooly Snuffle Mat Feeding Mat for Dogs by PAWS
Don’t mind the price of the PAWS Wooly Snuffle Mat as we can guarantee this is one of those interactive dog toys that you’d want to give to your pooch. The Wooly Snuffle Mat is more like a fluffy area rug with extra-long fibers that simulate tall grass. Just sprinkle your dog’s favorite treats through the fibers of the Snuffle and just let your pooch be. It will be more like foraging for truffles, for delectable treats. It’s a great training tool for sniffers.
The good thing is that the Snuffle Mat is made of up-cycled fabric so it also has a certain degree of eco-friendliness to it. As PAWS says in its ads, the Snuffle Mat is perfect for any pet, even potbellied pigs.
- Handwoven materials sourced from up-cycled fabrics
- Simulates natural dog instinct to forage for food
- Machine washable and easy-to-use mat
8. Mad Scientist for Dogs by TRIXIE Pet Products
The Mad Scientist for Dogs is just one of two dog puzzle toys from TRIXIE that is sure to stimulate the problem solving skills of pooches. Three tubes or beakers are skewered on a stick and propped on double A-frame stand. Lids come with holes just large enough to allow the treats to be dispensed.
Your dog’s job is to learn to flip the tubes so that the treats will slide through the holes. The lids can also be changed to allow for greater challenge. The Mad Scientist comes in durable construction and a stable base so your pooch won’t be tipping it over.
- Science laboratory-inspired treat-dispensing toy
- Made of durable and pet-safe materials
- Sturdy and stable base
9. Busy Buddy Tug-A-Jug Meal Dispensing Dog Toy by PetSafe
One of the best toys to keep dogs busy is the PetSafe Busy Buddy Tug-A-Jug. It’s a combination of three interactive dog toys in one. First, it’s a treat dispensing toy with the treats safely contained in an elegant yet very tough plastic jug.
Second, it has a lid that’s covered with a knobby rubber ball resembling a stress ball. Completing the Busy Buddy is a strong rope made of pet-safe fibers for tugging the rubber ball lid and gain access to the treats inside the jug. The knobby ball and the rope double as dental chew, cleaning your hound’s teeth.
- Multiple elements providing for a variety of sensory experience
- Combination of stress ball and rope toy in a treat dispensing mechanism
- Made of pet-safe and durable materials
- Intended for pooches heavier than 40 pounds
10. Hedgehog Den Burrow Squeaky Hide and Seek Plush Dog Toy by ZippyPaws
If you don’t like ZippyPaws’ Monkey ‘n Banana, then maybe you’d like the Hedgehog Den Burrow. These interactive puppy toys work like any other hide and seek plaything that can also double as a toss and fetch toy. They’re safe for your young pooch to mouth, too.
- Hedgehog den made of plush materials
- 3 whimsical hedgehogs made of soft squeaky material
- Designed for small and medium sized breeds
Best Interactive Dog Toys Buying Guide
There are many interactive dog toys in the market. Each one has its unique advantages over others. Understanding what these types of doggie toys are and what benefits your pooch can derive from these things can help you decide on the right interactive toy to purchase for your canine friend.
What are Interactive Dog Toys?
In its simplest definition, interactive dog toys are playthings that keep canines fully stimulated. Dogs are highly social animals. They thrive on interaction with members of the pack. If you have several pets in the household, canine boredom is usually not an issue since they can at least play among themselves. Unfortunately, for single dog households, the same cannot be said especially if you are too busy with work or if no one is left in the house to keep your pooch stimulated.
Interactive dog toys can come in many forms. There are puzzle toys that use treats as the primary motivation for pooches to try and solve the puzzle. For instance, the treat can be hidden in a mechanism that hounds will have to ‘solve’ to access the treat. There are also toys that squeak or make funny noises as well as move. These play to the dog’s predatory instincts. There are toys that come in various textures, tastes, and even sounds. Like human development, these things stimulate the brain. As we all know by now, stimulating the brain simply means working it so that it becomes sharper, primed for optimum canine training.
How to Choose the Right Interactive Dog Toy
Since the pet market is actually littered with lots of toys, picking the right one for your pooch can be quite challenging. You no longer have to fret about such things as we’re here to help you choose the right toy for your dog. Here’s how.
Understand your pooch’s jaw characteristics
While dogs can actually play with their paws, the principal organ that is involved in playtime activities is still the mouth. As such, even before you start buying toys for your pet, it is imperative that you have a clear understanding of the characteristics of its jaws especially its bite force.
Generally, puppies have a much softer bite than fully-grown adult dogs. Also, there are certain breeds that, even though they are already fully grown adults, still have a relatively soft bite. For instance, the Labrador retriever is well regarded for its gentle bite, something that it needs to pick up felled prey without necessarily shredding the prey to bits. There are also breeds that, small as they are, will have the bite force of a croc, pun intended just to make a point.
For gentle chewers, a soft squishy, hollow ball is usually sufficient. For aggressive chewers, one that is perfectly round and comes in a single color is ideal, although you can always experiment but with caution.
Choose appropriately-sized interactive dog toys
It goes without saying that you need a toy that is appropriate to the size of your pooch’s jaws. Too small and you risk choking your dog. Too big and your canine friend will lose interest in an instant.
Always go for interactive dog toys that are safe
Make sure the toy you choose is made from safe materials. It should also be sturdy enough that it will not be easily broken into bits and risk indigestion or even choking in your pooch.
Understand the different kinds of interactive dog toys
As we have already said, the market is saturated with a lot of dog toys. There are balls, discs, plush toys, squeakers, rope toys, tug toys, floating toys, treat or food dispensing gadgets, and, of course, interactive toys.
Benefits of Interactive Dog Toys
There are many reasons why a lot of animal experts recommend giving interactive toys to dogs. For the most part, the benefits our canine friends derive from these types of playthings are simply great. Here are some of them.
Helps prevent undesirable behaviors
Interactive dog toys work to keep the dog’s mind busy so that it will not be tempted to do things that are considered undesirable. For instance, instead of chewing on your furniture or barking incessantly when you’re not around, it can focus all of its attention and energy in ‘solving’ puzzle toys or chewing on dental chew toys.
Alleviates canine anxiety or grief
Canine anxiety, like that of humans, can be manifested in a lot of ways. There’s barking, jumping, destructive chewing, and many more. When pooches are ‘sad’ because you’re going to leave them alone for several hours, it can be particularly devastating for them. Giving them interactive toys can help them vent out their anxious energies into more constructive mechanisms.
Provides mental and physical stimulation
Training your dog requires it to listen to and obey your commands. This can only happen if it can focus on the task at hand. Giving them interactive doggie toys help train their minds to focus on a particular activity at any given time. Puzzle toys also help sharpen their problem-solving skills which can come in handy in dog training.
Slows down fast eaters
Treat dispensing toys that come in the form of puzzles can help slow down fast eaters. This is helpful if you have a pooch that is susceptible to bloating. It’s also helpful for obese dogs that definitely need to lose weight.
Keeping our pooches mentally and physically stimulated can be made a lot easier with the use of the right interactive dog toys. It is, therefore paramount that we take ample time looking at the various products made available to us. By making sure that these products are of the correct size and corresponds well to the unique characteristics of our dog, you, too, can easily pick out the right interactive toy for your hound.