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Dog Training Toys: The 11 Best Toys to Work on Training Commands

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Toys By Kelsey Snyder 15 min read June 29, 2021

Dog Training Toys

All work and no play makes your pup a dull boy, right?

Luckily, you can keep your pooch entertained while learning with dog training toys.

Designed to stimulate his senses as your dog works, training toys provide a healthy outlet and make learning and training fun for your dog.

Let’s check out the best dog training toys together and see what your doggo can play with while learning something new.

Best Dog Training Toys: Quick Picks

  • #1 West Paw Zogoflex Bumi [Best Tug Toy for Training]: Made in the USA from a proprietary material, the Bumi is easy to grip and built to last.
  • #2 Goughnuts Maxx 50 Stick [Best Chew Toy for Training]: Featuring a built-in safety indicator system, this super-durable chew toy is a great choice for power-chewing pups.
  • #3 Classic KONG Toy [Best Treat-Dispensing Toy for Training]: A true icon of a training toy, the Classic KONG is great for chewing, fetch, and doling out the treats.
  • #4 Chuckit! Max Glow Ball [Best Fetch Toy for Training]: This floating, glow-in-the-dark ball is perfect for dogs who love to play fetch.
  • #5 ZippyPaws Skinny Peltz [Best Plush Toy for Training]: These stuffing-free plush toys are a hit with dogs and owners alike.

Why You Should Use Toys to Train Your Dog

Dog toys aren’t just for casual backyard play anymore. They’re being adapted to fit the training of various working dogs, from police canines to water rescuers.

Other than being fun, dog training toys have other benefits, including:

  • Dental Care: Tugs and ropes help clean your dog’s mouth when used properly, keeping your pupper’s teefers and gums healthy.
  • Mental Stimulation: Training can get repetitive, and toys provide a layer of surprise to break up tedious day-to-day exercises.
  • Bite Work: Ball on a rope toys are popular with police dogs, as they give dogs a target to bite while still being fun and playful. 
  • Reinforce Learned Skills: Toys can mimic other activities, allowing your dog to show off what he’s learned. For instance, a floater can replace a fallen duck if you’re training a hunting dog for retrieving.
  • Exercise: While training works out the mind, throwing a toy into the mix can help burn off energy between sessions, improving focus and conditioning muscles and joints.
  • Alternative to Treats: Every dog deserves treats, but we all know too many goodies can pack on puppy pounds down the road. Dog training toys provide a reward that won’t negatively affect your fur friend’s physique.
Dog training toys for teaching

Different Types of Training Toys

Dog training toys are just as varied as the jobs we give our pups, with each encouraging your pooch to use specific skills learned in training.

There are many to choose from, with the most popular dog training toys being:

  • Tugs: Tug toys engage one of your dog’s most valuable assets: his teeth. Beyond that, tugging is great exercise, and not only builds on bitework training but also conditions muscles from head to tail. Combining a game of tug with the “drop it” command interspersed here and there also serves as a great impulse control game!
  • Chews: Like tugs, chew toys help clean your pup’s teeth. And besides cleaning chompers, they provide a nice cool-down activity between blocks of training, encouraging your dog to relax and burn off steam.
  • Treat-Dispensers: Made to stimulate an activity like pawing or chewing for a reward, treat-dispensing toys keep your dog’s mind and body engaged.
  • Fetch: Whether your pooch prefers water-friendly floaters or bouncing balls, fetch toys keep your doggo on the go and reinforce his retrieving skills.
  • Plush: Best for cuddly canines and gentle chewers, plush toys frequently contain pup-pleasing squeakers or crinkling material. They can be used as a reward for a job well done, a hidden prize to sniff out, or a sound-creating distraction. Some owners also choose to teach their dog to go grab a plush toy when they’re overexcited or when visitors come to the door to give them an alternative behavior (instead of barking, jumping up, etc).
  • Interactive: Designed for doggo input, interactive toys require your pup to do something to receive a reward, whether it’s a squeak, chime, or a hidden treat. Some canine puzzles may require a bit of thinking, which is ideal for problem-solving, while others encourage exercise.
  • Flirt Poles: Perfect for tapping into your dog’s prey drive and helping him burn off some excess energy, flirt poles are also great for teaching your dog a “drop it” command.
training toys for dogs

The Best Dog Training Toys to Work on Training Commands

With so many to choose from, we’ve narrowed down the best dog training toys available for reinforcing learned skills and conditioning.

Well-made and suitable for training in the field, these toys enhance the overall training experience for you and your four-footer.

1. West Paw Zogoflex Bumi: Best Tug for Training

About: The West Paw Zogoflex Bumi is a flexible tug that features a unique S-shaped design. It extends up to twice its length when tugged, and the bright coloring is easy to spot during training, regardless of the environment.

Best for Tug Training

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Zogoflex Bumi

West Paw Zogoflex Bumi

Uniquely flexible s-shaped tug toy

A durable, US-made tug toy that’s easy for you to grip and gentle on your dog’s mouth.

Features:

  • Made of 100-percent recyclable Zogoflex® material that is mouth-friendly even during games of tug
  • Manufactured in the USA using US-sourced materials
  • It floats, bounces, and is easy to throw for varied use
  • Non-absorbent and easy to clean — just pop your Bumi in the dishwasher as needed

Options: Available in a small and large sizes. 

PROS

The Bumi’s versatility was a winner with most dogs and owners, as you can use it as a tug or fetch object on land or water, improving several skill sets. Its stretch and shape make it extra fun, keeping your doggo guessing with every yank.

CONS

Your four-footed student can’t happily gnaw on this, as this toy isn’t made to withstand aggressive chewing. Additionally, while most owners liked the toy, some weren’t enamored with the shape or grip style.

2. Goughnuts Tug Toy: Best Tug Toy for Training Runner Up

About: The Goughnuts Tug Toy is a hardy tug that’ll strengthen and condition your pooch’s teeth and body while burning off energy during training. Land and water safe, it’s a versatile pick that you can also use for games of fetch.

Another great tug toy

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Goughnuts Tug Toy

Goughnuts Tug Toy

Ultra-tough tug toy for chewers

This figure-eight-shaped, heavyweight tug toy is made in the USA and a features built-in safety indicator system.

Features:

  • Made in the USA with durable rubber that’s tough enough for chewing but gentle on teeth
  • Figure-8 shape is ideal for maintaining a grip during rounds of tug
  • Features an inner ring that signals you to discard and replace the toy once it’s no longer safe for your pooch
  • Easy to wipe clean, though it can get a little slobbery during play

Options: Available in three color options: black, red, and orange. 

PROS

Strength is the winner here, as the rubber holds up to tug-of-war easily, even with large breeds. It has some stretch to it, making games more comfortable for you and your dog, but it still retains its shape after use. 

CONS

Smaller dogs may find the ring too thick to get a good hold on, and it’s also kind of heavy. So, this toy is best-suited for medium to large-sized pups.

3. GoughNuts Maxx 50 Stick: Best Chew Toy for Training

About: Beating training fatigue is easy with the Goughnuts Maxx 50 Stick, a toy your pup can chew on it after each training session.  Designed for large dogs that are powerful chewers, it’s a lasting addition to your training arsenal. 

Toughest Chew Toy

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goughnuts maxx 50 stick

Goughnuts Maxx 50 Stick

Ultra-tough chew stick

This super-rugged chew stick will keep your dog busy for hours and features the same safety indicator system most Gougnuts toys do.

Features:

  • Constructed of high-quality rubber that can withstand chewing without harming your dog’s teeth or gums
  • Includes an inner safety layer that signals if your dog damages the toy beyond safe use
  • Hardy enough for field use, but it does not float, so keep it away from water
  • Made in the USA

PROS

Durability is the biggest upside to this toy, with the heavy-duty rubber and size ideal for crate training or occupying your pup for extended periods of downtime during sessions. The solid stick shape is a bonus too, as there aren’t any projections  that can be easily gnawed away.

CONS

Since this is exclusively made for larger doggos, the small guys are left behind, which is a bummer. And with black the only color option, it may be  difficult to see if dropped in the dark. 

4. West Paw Zogoflex Hurley: Best Chew Toy for Training Runner Up

About: The perfect toy for on-the-go use, the West Paw Zogoflex Hurley will keep your pup entertained, whether you use it as a chew or a throw.

The lightweight construction has plenty of fun bounce and it floats if you want to practice your pooch’s dock-diving skills.

Another solid chew toy

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Zogoflex Hurley

West Paw Zogoflex Hurley

An all-in-one toy

The Hurley is a multi-function toy that’s not only great for chewing, but games of fetch too.

Features:

  • Made in the USA with US-sourced materials
  • Its Zogoflex® thermoplastic elastomer material is non-toxic and recyclable
  • Can be used for chewing, fetching, water fun (it floats!), and more
  • Dishwasher safe for easy cleaning

Options: Offered in three sizes: mini, small, and large.

PROS

While the Zogoflex® material is strong enough to withstand chewing, it won’t damage your pupper’s mouth or teeth like some hard rubbers. The color options are a bonus too, as many are easy to spot if you bring them along to training class.

CONS

As with any chew toy, aggressive chewers may be able to remove small chunks toward the ends due to its flared shape. Play close attention to sizing too, so you can ensure a proper fit with your pooch. 

5. Classic KONG: Best Treat-Dispensing Training Toy

About: The Classic KONG is one of the most popular training toys on the market, and it’ll keep your dog busy trying to access the goodies inside, which he has to work to get.

The rubber material also has a surprising bounce, allowing it to double as a fun fetch toy.

Best Treat-Dispensing Training Toy

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Classic KONG

Classic KONG Toy

An all-time owner favorite

The Classic KONG is great for fetch or solo chewing fun, and it also makes a great treat dispenser or slow feeder.

Features:

  • Constructed of all-natural, dog-friendly rubber
  • Manufactured in the USA of globally sourced materials
  • Strong enough to withstand pretty heavy chewing but won’t harm teeth
  • Can be washed in the dishwasher on the top-shelf setting to keep clean

Options: Available in six color-coded size options, ranging from X-Small to XX-Large. There’s also a KONG Extreme for power chewers.

PROS

The KONG design can be stuffed with whatever your dog’s favorite treat is, from cookies to peanut butter, and the narrow opening keeps puppers busy while hanging out in their crate. Most of the colors are easy to spot if you bring them along for training, though the KONG Extreme only comes in black.

CONS

Some dogs aren’t keen on the smell or taste of KONG’s proprietary rubber. Smaller dogs may struggle with chewing the KONG, though they can still bounce and paw at the toy to free hidden treats.

6. Starmark Bob-a-Lot: Best Treat-Dispensing Training Toy Runner Up

About: The Starmark Bob-a-Lot is a topsy-turvy toy that your pup nudges with his nose to shake treats free. Its weighted, anti-slip base keeps it upright, which keeps your pup stimulated, as he has to work for the goods.

Another Great Treat-Dispenser

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starmark bob-a-lot

Starmark Bob-a-Lot

Fun kibble dispenser with adjustable difficulty

The Bob-a-Lot is an entertaining slow feeder or treat dispenser, which will keep your dog busy for hours.

Features:

  • Made with durable plastic, but not designed for chewing
  • Difficulty can be adjusted, preventing your pup from getting bored
  • The large can hold up to 3 cups of kibble or treats, while the small holds 1 ½ cups
  • Can be rinsed to stay fresh and prevent bacterial buildup

Options: Offered in a small and large size.

PROS

Filling with treats is simple, as is adjusting the difficulty level. By design, it holds your dog’s attention and encourages natural foraging behaviors with well-earned rewards as he paws and pokes away with his nose.

CONS

Extreme chewers can damage the plastic design. Otherwise, it’s a strong runner up to the Classic KONG.  

7. Chuckit! Max Glow Ball: Best Fetch Toy for Training

About: The Chuckit! Max Glow Ball is a fetch lover’s dream, working well during retrieval training with hunting dogs.

Its innovative rubber texture is easy for your pooch to grip and provides plenty of bounce.

Best Fetch Toy for Training

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Chuckit Max Glow Ball

Chuckit! Max Glow Ball

Glow-in-the-dark fetch

Durable, easy-to-see, and safer than a tennis ball, the Chuckit! Max Glow Ball is a great fetch toy for training.

Features:

  • Felt-free and better for your dog’s teeth than a tennis ball
  • Floats, allowing for doggy-paddling fun as well as field play
  • Compatible with the Chuckit! Launcher, a drool-free way to chuck your pup’s ball further and faster
  • The glow-in-the-dark design makes finding it in low-light a breeze — just give it five minutes in the light to generate up to 30 minutes of glow

Options: Available in a single or double pack and four size options, ranging from small to extra-large. 

PROS

More durable than a standard tennis ball, the Chuckit! Max suits most dog breeds needing more fun in their training routine. The glow-in-the-dark shell makes it a nifty pick for those nights when training class runs late, too.

CONS

The rubber is thick, but not indestructible, so extreme chewers may puncture the ball. The glow time could be longer, though 30 minutes is sufficient for most dogs to get a good workout in after dark. 

8. KONG Extreme Ball Toy: Best Fetch Toy for Training Runner Up

About: The KONG Extreme Ball is a heavy-duty helper in getting your pooch moving during training. Strong yet gentle on your dog’s mouth, it’s the perfect tool to fine-tune retrieving skills and obedience.

Another Great Fetch Toy

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KONG Extreme Ball Toy

A ball for power-chewers

The KONG Extreme Ball is a great US-made, puncture-resistant fetch toy for power-chewing puppers.

Features

  • Manufactured with durable, hard natural rubber that can handle chewing and chomping during intense rounds of fetch
  • Made in the USA
  • Easy to wipe clean to keep fresh
  • The rubber material has some bounce, though it isn’t as springy as other balls

Options: Offered in two sizes: small and medium/large.

PROS

Strength is the top perk of this toy, and its puncture-resistant design is a must-have for dogs who are chomp-happy. It also has a small hole you can hide treats in for a hidden reward.

CONS

Not every dog likes the scent or smell of rubber, which can put the brakes on the fun. The black coloring can also be hard to spot, and it doesn’t float, eliminating water exercises.

9. ZippyPaws Skinny Peltz: Best Plush Training Toy

About: The ZippyPaws Skinny Peltz is a 3-pack of woodland creature plushes for squeaky, floppy fun.

Great for distracting your pooch during desensitization drills or rewarding in obedience, this set enhances day-to-day training.

Best Plush Training Toy

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Zippy Paws

ZippyPaws Skinny Peltz

Soft, squeaky re-direction toys

These stuffing-free plush toys are machine-washable and come in packs of three.

Features:

  • Made with mouth-friendly fleece and no stuffing for mess-free play
  • With two squeakers in each toy, your doggo has plenty of high-pitched happiness in his future
  • The flexible design folds easily for stowing away between bouts of play to keep the focus on training
  • These soft dog toys can be machine-washed on the gentle cycle

PROS

With three toys included, you can get the best bang for your buck by rotating use. The size is great for medium to large-sized breeds too, who are often stuck with smaller plushes that aren’t as satisfying. 

CONS

These aren’t suitable for heavy chewers. The large size may also be a problem for tiny pups.

10. Ethical Pets Skineeez: Best Plush Training Toy Runner Up

About: Stuffing-free and fun to squeak, the Ethical Pets Skineeez can help distract your pup from stressors or reward positive behavior.

Made to resemble a raccoon, this cute toy mimics prey, stimulating your doggo’s natural instincts to shake and flop.

Another Great Plush Toy

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Skineeez Plush Toy

Ethical Pets Skineeez Plush Toy

Stuffing and mess-free soft toy

This stuffing-free, machine washable fabric toy is a great choice for dogs who love plush playthings.

Features:

  • Gentle plush polyester won’t harm your pooch’s mouth
  • With no stuffing, you don’t have to worry about cleaning up fuzz forever if your pup removes a limb or two
  • The loose structure of the toy lets your dog fling it to his heart’s content and allows you to stuff it in your pocket or training bag for on-the-go use
  • Machine-washable for keeping clean between playtimes 

PROS

The size and shape make it easy to tote on your belt or training bag. Outside of training, the adorable design makes for a cute cuddle buddy for your pooch.

CONS

Aggressive chewers need not apply. The small limbs and tail can be shredded off , which may create a choking or obstruction hazard. 

11. Outward Hound Tail Teaser: Best Interactive Training Toy

About: The Outward Hound Tail Teaser gives your dog a healthy energy outlet during training sessions. Featuring a tempting lure, this teaser encourages your pooch to chase, jump, and play.

Best Interactive Dog Training Toy

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Outward Hound Tail Teaser

Outward Hound Tail Teaser

Great for dogs with a prey drive

The Outward Hound Tail Teaser is great for dogs with a high prey drive and comes with two lures.

Features:

  • Measuring 37.5 inches, the wand dangles the included tuggable toy from a 45-inch nylon rope
  • The nylon rope stretches, giving your doggo the chance to tug comfortably while absorbing some of the pull and giving your arm a break 
  • The included lures rattle and squeak for audible rewards
  • While listed as suitable for all dog breeds, the toys run small, so plan accordingly

PROS

Perfect for small pups, the Outward Teaser keeps your dog close, making it great for use during training. The textured grip makes for a firm hold, too, allowing for one-handed use so you can still signal to your pooch.

CONS

While useful for burning off a small dog’s energy in the field, this teaser isn’t large enough or strong enough for many big dogs. It’s also not the most portable for carrying around on the go during a training session.

How Can You Incorporate Toys into Your Training Regimen?

So when you think of toys, it’s natural to wonder how something so fun for your pooch can be useful in training. You may be surprised at how handy dog training toys really are, with uses including:

  • Reward: Your pup needs to know he’s doing a good job, and reinforcing positive behavior like coming when called with a toy solidifies that. 
  • Obedience: Throwing a fetch toy helps build strengths like retrieval and recall, getting your dog in the habit of bringing something fun back to you rather than taking off with it, no matter how fun it is.
  • Distraction: When you’re working on desensitization, using a squeaky plush or similar attention-grabber helps redirect your dog’s attention from the item you’re seeking to acclimate them to, either its other dogs or cars.
  • Occupying down time: Whether in between training sessions or working on crate training, a chew or treat-dispensing toy helps keep your pup entertained. Never leave a dog alone with a toy, however, as accidental ingestion is always a risk.
  • Energy-burning: If you’re working on a lot of repetitive tasks, taking a break for a game of tug or fetch helps your dog get some exercise and burn off pent-up steam, improving focus. 
  • Skill-building: Some dog training toys mimic working-dog duties, helping your pooch hone his skills.

***

Do you incorporate any of these dog training toys in your training routines? Do you use any others? Let us know in the comments!

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Written by

Kelsey Snyder

Kelsey is a K9 of Mine contributor who has worked with dogs as a shift runner and office manager of a boarding kennel. When she’s not writing, she can be found throwing a ball or losing at tug of war. An animal lover to the max, she lives in South Jersey with her husband, her five dogs Boomer, Taj, Batman, Maya, and Moxie, some kitties, and two grumpy turtles.

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