All dogs need a positive outlet for their build-up of energy. Interactive dog toys are an excellent way to stimulate your dog’s mind and provide a healthy outlet for physical exertion. Because these toys keep dogs busy for longer, they often are a better option than bones and ropes.
Moreover, interactive toys for dogs actually hone a dog’s cognitive abilities. These toys aid their mental development and allow them to focus their energies on something positive. The interactive toys come in handy especially in curbing destructive behavior that stems from boredom and frustration.
What Are Interactive Dog Toys?
Interactive toys are designed to be multi-functional and give your pup hours of fun. There are a variety of interactive dog toys in the market. They range from interactive dog balls to puzzles to chew toys. Many of these toys have dispensing mechanisms that slowly release treats for pups as rewards. Moreover, there are interactive dog toys for large breeds as well as small ones. Some companies make interactive toys for heavy chewers, while others are aimed at stimulating an inquisitive dog’s mind. Point being, there are a variety of dog toys in the market. Here are some categories:
- Treat dispensing puzzle toys (with varying difficulty levels)
- Treat dispensing balls
- Snuffle mats
- Wobble toys
- Hide & seek toys
- Squeaky interactive toys
- Stimulating dog toys
The best interactive dog toys are the ones suited for your dog. There is no objectively superior toy. But there are toys that might work best with your dog. Therefore, we have curated our list of the most popular interactive dog toys. These products are, in our opinion, the best ones available for purchase.
How to Choose the Right Interactive Dog Toys?
We shall discuss the important features such as size, durability, difficulty levels, and safety in much detail to help you make the right choice for your pooch.
Safety of perhaps the first aspect you should focus on. Dog toys of all sorts can have numerous potential safety hazards. We’ll tell you about a few things you should beware of when buying toys.
- Cheap toys from unknown origin: There’s no way to know if the toy is made from easily breakable, and toxic materials
- Choking hazards: Make sure the toy does not have small parts that your pup might ingest
- Breakable plastics: Some toys are not consumable. Some plastic bone toys can break and possibly hurt your dog. Therefore, read the labels carefully
- Human toys: If you’re re-purposing soft toys for children, make sure the toy is robust. Dogs play rough, and will easily tear through and access polyester inside these toys
Dogs’ toys are made to withstand chewing and biting. But, some dogs with a strong bite may ruin the toy easily. In fact, it’s pretty common for dogs to treat their chew toys like rag dolls and ruin them quickly.
You should know how strong your dog’s bite force is. If it tends to tear up regular toys, you should buy one that more durable. There are plenty of these “indestructible dog chew toys” on the market. Generally, high-quality toys will generally be much safer and last longer as compared to cheaper ones. Therefore, instead of going with the best toy you can get for the least amount of money, you should focus on quality when buying interactive dog toys.
Most puzzle toys are for a specific difficulty level. Smart or well-trained dogs engage well with difficult puzzles. But, other dogs will soon get bored if they find the puzzle too hard for them. Choose the puzzle according to your dog’s capability.
These toys range from various snuffle mats to shuffleboards and treat dispensers. Moreover, with time, your dog will able to hone his skill and easily solve its puzzle toys. If the puzzle toy isn’t much of a challenge, your pooch will quickly get bored. But fret not, because there’s always more challenging toys you can go buy.
While you may not think of it, this is another key aspect you should look into before buying. There are two obvious tests a material should pass regardless of the toy type, quality and safety.
High-quality toys use robust and durable materials. Be it plastic or rubber, high-quality materials will last longer. They not only increase the life of the toy but are much safer. But perhaps what’s more important is how safe the material is to chew. Some chew-able toys are made from weak plastic that can break. If these broken pieces are ingested by your dog, they can prove fatal. Moreover, some cheap toys are may be made from toxic materials. There’s just no way to know! Therefore, it’s best to stick to a known brand that you know will use high-quality materials safe for your pooch.
Some toys are designed to squeak when bitten. Some dogs are especially charged by this noise. If your dog likes it, it will chew the toy non-stop. It’s interesting how charged up some dogs get when their toys squeak. Some people theorize it is because the noise resembles a small animal being killed. They say the squeaky toy trigger’s your dog’s animal instincts, and it takes pleasure out of “killing” its squeaky toy.
Interactive toys like squeaky balls or laser pointers may trigger your dog’s hunter spirit. These toys may actually train your dog to chase around or try to “hunt”. So, consider these factors when buying the toy. Even if that doesn’t happen, the constant squeaks may become a nuisance in your day to day life.
12 Best Interactive Toys for Dogs
We’ve ranked products according to the value for money provided, the ease of use, how long they will keep your dogs mentally engaged and stimulated, and also how well-built and durable they are.
Here are the most popular interactive toys for dogs:
1. Outward Hound Ottosson Puzzle Brick Dog Toy
- Manufacturer: Outward Hound
- Material: Plastic
- Type: Puzzle treat dispenser
- Color: Blue
The Ottosson Puzzle brick toy is an incredible choice for intelligent dogs with inquisitive minds. On the Outward Hound difficulty scale, it is rated at 2. This toy offers a fair bit of difficulty for your dog. The Ottosson brick is made from high-quality materials. It is safe for your dog, as well as visually appealing and engaging due to its striking blue color. Moreover, it features 20 compartments and can be played in 3 different ways. In addition, it can be used with both wet and dry food. Lastly, the toy is easy to maintain, and can easily be wiped clean.
With its additional features and stimulating challenges, this toy is one of the bests. However, there is no perfect product, and unfortunately, the Nina Ottosson brick toy has its flaws too. The product description does not specifically say that the toy is non-toxic.
2. VARRAM Pet Fitness Robot
- Manufacturer: VARRAM
- Material: Plastic
- Type: Electronic companion toy
- Color: White
This toy is really one to look at, it’s pricey, but its a head-turner for sure. This toy is an electronic companion/treat dispenser. Accessible through an app, this toy is designed to keep your dog busy while you’re not around. It can: be controlled through the app, release treats for your dog, and can even track statistics.
The biggest benefit of this electronic interactive dog toy is perhaps its versatility. It can dispense treats, track your dog’s activity levels, be controlled via an app, and keep your dog physically active. Moreover, this is made from polycarbonate that’s durable and easy to clean. An obvious downside of this toy is that its expensive. While it’s made from strong materials, there’s a chance that its electronics may be destroyed by overly aggressive dogs.
3. Ritastar Upgraded Interactive Pet Toy Ball
- Manufacturer: Ritastar
- Material: TPU
- Type: Electronic companion toy
- Color: Green, Pink
Ritastar offers yet another unique toy that checks a lot of boxes. This rubber ball is a full-fledged electronic toy. Its main features include:
- USB rechargeable 9-hour battery life
- RGB LED strip
- High-quality durable plastic
- 360-degree auto-roll feature with a built-in gravity sensor
The interactive rubber ball and its features are sure to keep your dog busy for hours. Moreover, its LED strips with vibrant RGB colors make the toy all the more appealing. The durable TPU is way more safe and durable compared to normal plastic. So there’s no need to worry about your dog tearing apart the toy or hurting its teeth. Lastly, it charges up quickly.
While this toy has its plethora of features, its got a few shortcomings as well. The toy features a plastic LED strip that can prove to be a weak point. A dog that’s too aggressive may break the toy and hurt itself.
4. XiaZ Retractable Tug of War Rope
- Manufacturer: XiaZ
- Material: Polyester and rope
- Type: Outdoor pulling toy
- Color: Yellow and Orange
The retractable tug of war toy from XiaZ is targeted towards heavier dogs. This means your medium to large breed dog can play with this rope to its heart’s desire without breaking it. The toy has been reinforced with thicker straps. Moreover, it’s been covered with a polyester weave so it is difficult to chew. The toy is rated for weight up to 260 pounds (120 kgs).
The toy keeps your dog busy for hours of fun. It allows for pulling, swinging, and tugging action. Over time, this kind of exercise helps your dog train and gain muscle. It can be used in multiple ways. for instance, you can hang it from a beam in your porch, or wrap it around a tree branch. While this may be one of the best toys in the market, it is still a rope. Although it’s durable, it can be chewed up by some dogs. If you’re looking for indestructible dog chew toys, then this one’s isn’t for you.
5. Outward Hound Plush Hide and Seek Toy
- Manufacturer: Outward Hound
- Material: Plush
- Type: Hide and Seek toy
- Color/Style: Bee, Squirrel, Bird, Hedgehog, Rainbow
This little puzzle toy serves as an outlet for hours of fun as well as an irresistible squeaky toy for dogs. It comes in various shapes, such as a tree trunk, a birdhouse, etc. All these styles are available in small, medium, and large size. Moreover, this challenging puzzle comes with a reward dispenser. Watch as your dog figures out this puzzle, and earns the reward hidden inside.
The toy comes with a number of interactive features such as squeaky toys, and a challenging puzzle. This allows your dog to bust boredom and learn to sniff, hunt, and fetch its reward. Because it’s so engaging, it really enriches and hones your dog’s IQ. One recurring problem many people face is inconsistent quality. Some of these Outward Hound toys tear easily due to low-quality plush material.
6. RENZCHU IQ Treat Ball
- Manufacturer: RENZCHU
- Material: Environmentally Friendly Non-Toxic plastic (TPR)
- Type: Treat Dispensing ball
- Color: Blue and Pink
RENZCHU sells a simple yet very engaging treat ball that works like a charm. It’s intended for small to medium-sized dogs and keeps them busy for an hour, deterring it from chewing on socks, shoes, etc. Moreover, the toy has a slow-feeding mechanism, especially effective against dogs that eat too fast. In addition, it’s easy to clean and safe for chewing. To prolong its life, wash it with warm water and dry it before refilling.
Because it’s got a slow feeding mechanism, it helps prevent indigestion due to fast feeding. The material is soft and can be chewed up without posing any health hazards. The toy is easy to clean and maintain. Moreover, the toy comes in a pack of two. A clear shortcoming for this toy is its soft material. Some small to medium-sized dogs can easily chew through it in no time.
7. ZippyPaws Holiday Burrow
- Manufacturer: ZippyPaws
- Material: Plush and Polyester
- Type: Hide and Seek Burrow
- Color/Style: 15 different styles
The holiday comes in 15 different shapes such as a Christmas gift, box of chocolates, Chinese lanterns, etc. The burrow comes with a number of plush squeaky toys (chipmunks, teddy bears, etc.) that all dogs will love. It requires the dogs to dig out the chipmunks through the holes in the burrow. Suitable for small to medium-sized dogs.
Dogs just can’t get enough of it. Hide and seek burrow engages your dog’s inner hunter and keeps it busy. Unfortunately, this toy is only suitable for little pups or calm and playful grown-ups. Larger or more aggressive dogs will easily tear through the fabric.
8. StarMark Bob-A-Lot
- Manufacturer: Starmark
- Material: Plastic
- Type: Treat dispensing wobble toy
- Color/Style: Green
This incredibly fun toy is perhaps one of the most popular interactive toys. It’s available in small and large sizes, has a simple treat dispensing mechanism, and keeps dogs hooked for a long time. It’s also easy to clean and comes at a cheap price. Moreover, the dispensing mechanism has a variable opening system, which allows you to adjust the difficulty.
The obvious benefit of this toy is how simple yet interactive it is. Moreover, the variable opening mechanism allows you to adjust the difficulty, keeping your dog engaged for longer. Moreover, the treat slot is large enough for bigger sized kibbles, which isnt always the case with these toys. While it comes in a large size, it is vulnerable to larger breeds. This is definitely not an interactive dog toy for larger breeds. Similarly, it’s also prone to breaking easily if your dog is a heavy chewer
9. Blinkbrione Automatic Rolling Ball
- Manufacturer: Blinkbrione
- Material: Plastic
- Type: Interactive dog ball
- Color/Style: Blue
This interactive rolling ball has smart auto-roll functionality. This feature, coupled with vibrant LEDs is bound to attract your pup’s attention. Similar to other interactive pet toys like this, the Blinkbrione rolling ball can be charged via USB and provides 5+ hours of fun. This upgraded version is made from TPU material. While this is an electronic interactive toy, its waterproof and can be used in almost any condition.
TPU used to manufacture this toy is soft and durable plastic. Not only is it safer, but it lasts way longer. For most dogs, this is an indestructible dog chew toy. Additionally, it has all the benefits of other such toys, such as bright LEDs for attracting your pet. While the company is reputable, some customers have received poor quality toys. There have been complaints of toys made from silicone type materials that don’t roll properly on any surface.
10. West Paw Interactive Treat Dispensing Dog Chew
- Manufacturer: West Paw Design
- Material: Non-toxic and FDA complaint plastic
- Type: Chew toy
- Color/Style: Green, Orange, Yellow
The West Paw Design chew toy is a premium product for dogs. This particular toy comes in small and large sizes. The toy itself is made from high-quality materials and comes with a 100% guarantee. It is made in the USA and is completely recyclable.
The toy comes with a guarantee against dog bites, which means it’s one of the few indestructible dogs chew toys in the market. Moreover, US-based manufacturing reflects good quality and ethical standards. The toy is easy to clean as its dishwasher friendly. And last but not the least, it’s environmentally sustainable. While the company promises its durability this chew toy can be damaged by some dogs. Dogs with strong jaws and teeth will chew this toy up in minutes.
11. Dog Self-Playing Rubber Ball
- Manufacturer: Matoolz
- Material: Food-grade TPR rubber
- Type: Chew toy
- Color/Style: Blue, Purple
This self-playing rubber ball/rope is ideal for small to medium dogs. This multi-purpose toy comes with a rope attached to a suction cup at one end, a rubber ball at the other, and a teething toy in the middle. The TPR rubber used to manufacture this toy is food-grade, environmentally friendly, and completely safe for dogs.
A unique feature of this toy is the teething – it helps keep your dog’s teeth clean, and freshens their breath. Additionally, this toy is very versatile. The suction cup allows this toy to work as an excellent tog and pull toy, while the high-quality chew ball provides hours of fun. While the concept is interesting, the suction cup doesn’t hold against the dog’s strong grasp. Many people have complained about the suction cup losing its grip and hurting them or their pets.
12. OSPet Interactive Dog Slow Feeder
- Manufacturer: OSPet
- Material: ABS Plastic
- Type: Tret dispensing puzzle
- Color/Style: Green
This slow feeder comes with a striking design. It features a water wheel styled dog treat dispenser through which crunchy kibbles fall down into a tray. The tray is designed with deep grooves, so as to prevent the dog from eating too quickly. In addition, the toy is manufactured from ABS plastic that’s safe for pets.
The slow feeding process works like a charm and prevents bloating in your dog’s stomach. In addition, the design is unique compared to other treat dispensers, which is sure to keep your dog intrigued for longer. And the benefits don’t stop there, the ABS plastic used to make this toy is very durable, and “non-toxic” and “non-harmful” according to the manufacturer. While the design is unique, is had one major flaw, it is not sturdy. Many users have complained that the toy tips over easily.
Interactive Dog Toys – FAQ
Dog toys come in all shapes and sizes. Pet owners are often confused about which toys would their pooch enjoy, and which ones are the safest. The following list of questions discusses some common queries regarding dog toys.
Can Toys Keep my Dog Busy?
Dogs love toys and can be kept entertained for hours by them. From small treat dispensers, to chew balls, to rope toys for the backyard, dogs are a sucker for toys. But, not all toys are suitable for all kinds of dogs. There are safety precautions you need to consider, as well as how intelligent or aggressive your dog is.
Make sure the toy you buy is made from high-quality materials. It should be durable and hard to break. It should also be non-toxic. Dogs can accidentally swallow pieces of toys, especially is if they break them. A toy made from hard plastic or toxic material could potentially harm our dog if ingested.
Moreover, you should get a toy that’s durable enough for your dog. A small treat dispenser wouldn’t last longer than a few minutes against a German Shepherd. Getting a rope toy for the backyard is probably more suitable for these dogs.
How can I Mentally Stimulate my Dog?
There are multiple ways to mentally stimulate your dog, provided that you put in the effort and required time with your dog.
- Try teaching your dog a new trick. It will help calm your dog and reduce anxiety
- Use interactive toys to indulge your dog in mentally stimulating activities
- Introduce your dog to new and interesting stimulants. For example, you could take your dog to run errands, car wash, meet a friend
- Introduce your dog to new faces. Take your dog to meet your friends, or other pets in the park. The more you socialize your dog, the better
Do Smart Dogs like Interactive Toys?
Regardless of how smart your dog is, canines inherently enjoy intellectually stimulating toys. Furthermore, These toys act as a positive method for letting out their built-up energy. Toys such as puzzles, IQ balls, hide and seek toys, and other varieties keep dogs busy for hours. Moreover, toys like these can actually increase your dog’s mental capacity.
One aspect to consider with smarter dogs is that they need relatively challenging toys to stay invested. For example, a basic level one puzzle will probably bore your smart Labrador in little time. What you need is an advanced puzzle or a challenging treat dispenser toy that your lab can really appreciate.
What type of Interactive Dog Toy Should I Buy?
If you’re looking to buy interactive toys for your dog, you should get one that’s safe for your dog, durable, and easy to use and maintain. Here are a few of our suggestions:
- Outward Hound Ottosson Puzzle Brick Dog Toy
- RENZCHU IQ Treat Ball
- Blinkbrione Automatic Rolling Ball
We suggest getting a few interactive dog toys and keep rotating them so your dog doesn’t get bored and always has something new and interesting to play with.
Interactive dog toys can be great for the mental and physical health of your dog. Consider purchasing one or more mentioned on our list or go out looking for one that matches your and your dog’s criteria. They are sure to help your pup feel happy and stimulated.