All dogs need toys to keep their brains and bodies busy.
In fact, toys aren’t only important for keeping your pupper happy and preventing boredom, they’re also useful for addressing problematic behaviors, such as destructive chewing or nuisance barking.
The problem is, typical toys come in one of two varieties:
- “Boring” toys, such as chews, which don’t really do anything. Some doggos will enjoy these types of toys (particularly power-chewing pooches), but others will quickly lose interest.
- “Co-play” toys, such as tugs and tennis balls. These types of toys tend to keep a dog’s interest longer, but you’ll usually have to participate in playtime to make them fun.
But as you probably already know, your dog will often want to play when you have other things to do. Fortunately, there is a solution – interactive dog toys!
Interactive dog toys come in a variety of forms, but they all feature one thing in common: They make playtime fun for your dog without you having to do anything (aside from setting up the toy and teaching your dog to use it).
We’ll highlight our favorite interactive dog toys below, so you can help your pooch fight off boredom on his own.
Best Interactive Electronic Dog Toys
Check out some of the best electronic dog toys we’ve found below! We’ve included electronic toys of varying price levels, ranging from crazy cheap to relatively pricey.
About: CleverPet is an electronic dog toy that is somewhat similar to the old Simon Says game console you may have played with as a child.
Designed to keep your dog’s brain busy while you’re away, CleverPet requires your dog to press illuminated buttons to earn a reward.
Features: CleverPet is an 11-pound, plastic-shielded console that you’ll place somewhere your dog can access it easily. You’ll simply need to load it with up to 2.5 cups of dime-sized or smaller kibble, plug it in, and let the fun begin!
The pre-loaded software is designed to start with very simple programs to help your dog learn how the system works. Over time, the games will begin to vary and get harder.
You can control CleverPet and monitor your pet’s progress via a phone app, and you can even limit your pet’s ability to access the food if need be.
The programs and games are designed by, as CleverPet notes, “dog-loving neuroscientists,” and intended to stimulate your canine’s brain and keep him happy.
New games are released on a frequent basis to help prevent boredom and keep challenging your canine.
CleverPet certainly seems to catch the interest of many dogs, and several owners reported that their pet continued to play with it for weeks or months after the initial purchase. The unit seems to be well-built and easy for dogs to figure out and operate. Many owners were quite tickled to watch their pooch improve and graduate to increasingly difficult games.
The biggest downside to CleverPet is its price tag — this is not a cheap toy. Non-tech-savvy owners may also find it challenging to set up, but CleverPet’s customer service department appears responsive and eager to help owners navigate the setup procedure.
2. Ricochet Dog Toy
About: The Ricochet Dog Toy is an electronic interactive dog toy from PetSafe designed to keep your pup running and playing without any prompting from you!.
- AWARD-WINNING INNOVATION - Winner of the 2019 Pet Business Industry Recognition Award (IRA) for...
- HIDE and SQUEAK NOISE – The PetSafe Ricochet Electronic Dog Toy includes two coupled toys that let...
- INDEPENDENT BUSY PLAY - Perfect for households. When your dog plays with one of the toys, the other...
- LONG TIME PLAY - Both toys automatically turn off after 60 minutes inactivity (to save battery);...
Comprised of two hard plastic balls, the balls are charged and then synced together via Bluetooth.
When your dog begins to play and roll around one ball, the other ball will begin to squeak to get your dog’s attention! As your dog draws his focus to the squeaking ball and begins to knock it around, the opposite ball will then go off.
The two balls will continue to work together to draw your dog back and forth between the balls, keeping your dog’s interest and encouraging movement!
The two balls can be positioned as much as 30 ft apart while still staying synced. Despite using AAA batteries, the Ricochet automatic moving dog toy can last for up to a month of daily use without changing batteries since the toy is automatically programmed to turn off after 60 minutes of no activity.
The dual ball design encourages your dog to move physically as well as stay mentally stimulated, and since the Ricochet electronic balls are made of hard, durable plastic and contain no stuffing or fabric, this is a great toy for rough chewers who normally decimate other toys.
Many owners note that their dogs just aren’t into this toy. Some simply aren’t amused while other more skittish dogs are actually afraid of the sounds. The toy is also quite pricey so it can be frustrating to buy the Ricochet and have your dog be uninterested in it. Some owners also find the sounds to be obnoxious.
3. Petcube Bites 2
About: The Petcube Bites 2 is an interactive dog camera that allows you to communicate with and dispense treats to your pooch while monitoring them from the Petcube companion mobile app.
You can set up the Petcube camera to share your dog’s stream with friends and family too!
- 🎥 Ultimate pet monitoring – With Petcube Bites Wi-Fi pet camera, watch your pet with 1080p full...
- 🚀Quick 2-minute setup – Petcube Bites 2 is the only pet camera to support 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz Wi-Fi...
- 🍖Treat your pet remotely – Toss treats short, medium, or long distance or schedule automatic...
- 🔔 Smart sound & motion alerts – Real-time notifications tell you when your pet is active and...
- High-quality video. 1080p HD video, night vision, 4x digital zoom, and a 160-degree wide-angle lens which lets you see the entire room.
- Treat-dispensing with varying amounts and distance. With Angry-Birds-esque swiping you can shoot your dog’s treats out at varying distances. In addition, you can program the Petcube to dispense treats at specific times of the day to keep your pup occupied.
- Quality mic and clear sound. Full duplex sound, 4-microphone array, and a speaker bar result in crisp and clear audio that’s phone-call-level quality between you and your pup.
- Alexa’s included. The built-in Alexa assistant can play music for your pooch right from the camera.
- Ability for smart alerts, bark alerts, and moment capturing. With a Petcube Care subscription, the camera can notify you when your dog is barking, identify intruders (it can tell the difference between pets and people), and can even be programmed to auto-capture your pooch’s cutest moments.
Want more info about PetCube? Check out our full PetCube Bites 2 review here!
The Petcube Bites 2 is a fantastic pet camera. It’s easy to set up, works on both 5GHz or 2.4GHz WIFI connections, and the ability to toss treats at varying distances is really fun.
It’s a shame that some of the most useful features – such as the bark alert and human intruder alert – require the Petcube Care monthly subscription. However, this is true for other pet cameras (like the Furbo) as well.
Petcube Bites 2 not right for ya? Check out the eufy D605 pet camera!
4. Babble Ball
About: Aside from sticks found in the backyard, balls are probably the oldest dog toys in existence. But the Babble Ball brings this old-school toy into the 21st century, by adding flashing lights and sounds to the fun!
Easy to use, yet captivating for canines, the Babble Ball is a great tool for providing your pooch with additional mental stimulation.
- Interactive Dog Toy: The Blinky Babble Ball is motion activated, flashes and makes sounds; A great...
- Keep Them Busy: As your pet breathes on it or walks past it, the bright light starts blinking and...
- Healthy Chew Outlet: The Babble Ball helps dogs satisfy their natural instinct to chew and helps...
- Strong And Durable: Made with high impact ABS construction, the Babble Ball can stand up to...
Features: The Babble Ball is a fairly typical ball that features internal electronic components that produce the lights and sounds associated with the toy.
You don’t need to train your dog to use it, either — simply turn it on and let your pupper go to town! The toy produces 18 different sounds in total, so it will keep most dogs interested for a long time.
This toy does require 3 1.5 volt (AG13/LR44) button cell batteries, but they’re included with your purchase. According to the manufacturer, these batteries should last for approximately 12,000 to 15,000 phrases or sounds, and replacing the batteries is a fairly easy exercise.
The manufacturer reports that the Babble Ball is designed to be durable, but it isn’t intended for outdoor use (you may break it by chucking it around the backyard), nor would you want to play canine catch with it.
Additionally, it is not designed to be a chew toy, so you’ll likely want to take it away from your dog if he starts to gnaw on it.
One of the best things about the Babble Ball is its price. Unlike some of the other interactive toys on the market, which cost a fortune, it won’t even cost you 10 bucks to try out the Babble Ball! Most dogs seemed intrigued by the toy, and several owners reported that it stood up to their power-chewing pooch for quite a while.
A few owners reported durability concerns, but the most common complaints involved dogs that were afraid of the sounds. It’s also worth pointing out that you can’t turn this ball off — it becomes “active” and starts emitting sounds when it senses vibration.
5. VARRAM Pet Fitness Robot
About: If you’re ready for a space-age dog toy, you should certainly check out the VARRAM Pet Fitness Robot.
This moving, treat-slinging, polycarbonate-encased device is designed to interact with your pooch and stimulate his mind when you don’t have time to play.
- STAY INTERACTIVE WITH TREAT REWARDING AND FUN ACTIVITIES: Take care of your pet like pro even when...
- IMPROVE PHYSICAL AND MENTAL HEALTH: Physical activities for your pet is essential to keep their mind...
- Durable Design: Our pet fitness robot is durable and built to last. It is made of poly-carbonate...
- CONVENIENT AUTO SCHEDULING & EASY TO MANAGE APP: You can simply access our app to schedule and...
Features: Measuring about 6.5 inches wide and 4 inches high, the VARRAM Fitness Robot features two large wheels, a cute set of robot eyes, and a treat-ejection port.
You can use any treats that will fit through the port, and the treat receptacle is easy to wash and load.
The VARRAM Fitness Robot comes with several pre-loaded movement patterns and programs, and you can also create your own (and control the device in many other ways), via the associated smartphone app.
A feather lure is also included with the toy, although this is likely to be more fun for cats than dogs.
The VARRAM Fitness Robot enjoys an IPX4 water-resistance rating, meaning that your dog’s slobber won’t harm it.
The tires are capable of tackling hardwoods, carpet, or tile floors, and it features obstacle-avoidance software to prevent it from running into things or becoming stuck.
Generally speaking, the VARRAM Robot enjoyed good user reviews, and it seemed to catch the attention of most canines. Comments like “What I’ve been looking for FOREVER,” and “The first legitimately good autonomous dog toy” litter the review section. Several owners also specifically praised the app and the ability to schedule play sessions for their pooch.
A few owners complained that the toy was difficult to update. But the majority of negative reviews centered around the toy’s durability — it does not appear robust enough to withstand destructive doggos. A few owners also complained that the movement was a bit slow and unexciting for their dog.
6. Hyper Pet Doggie Tail
About: The Hyper Pet Doggie Tail is a moving dog toy that wiggles, vibrates, and barks(!) to keep your pupper’s attention.
When it’s time to play, simply turn the ball on and then toss it to your pooch — the toy will take care of the rest!
- PLUSH SQUEAKY DOG TOY THAT WIGGLES, VIBRATES, & BARKS – Entice your dog to run, chase, play, and...
- REDUCE ANXIETY AND BOREDOM – With funny sounds and erratic movements, these funny dog toys & plush...
- TIPS TO ACTIVATE: Pull out tab and give hard shake. If toy does not turn on, feel around for ON/OFF...
- BATTERY OPERATED PROLONGED PLAY – To change batteries, remove the plastic ball from plush toy...
Features: The Hyper Pet Doggie Tail is basically a plastic, motorized ball with a faux-fur cover that makes the ball look like some sort of cute critter.
When you turn the toy on, it will wiggle and move around for about 10 seconds before stopping. Once you or your dog shake it again, it’ll come back to life and move around for more fun.
The toy does require three AAA batteries (not included). But, because the toy automatically shuts off when your dog stops moving it, the batteries should last for a while.
The Hyper Pet Doggie Tail is only available in one standard size, but it should work well for medium to large dogs. Replacement covers are available in case your pooch destroys the cover.
Overall, this seems like a really fun toy for dogs. Most seemed to love the way the Hyper Pet Doggie Tail moves and found the prey-like appearance captivating. Reports like “Best Dog Toy in the World!” were very common. Also, the automatic on-off capabilities help to prolong battery life, which is helpful.
The biggest downside to this toy seems to be its durability — some dogs destroyed the toy in a matter of minutes, so it isn’t great for power-chewing pooches. Several owners also had trouble opening the ball to install the batteries, and it appears that you’ll need a small jewelry-style screwdriver to open the compartment.
7. PetSafe Manners Minder Treat & Training Remote Rewarder
About: The PetSafe Manners Minder Remote Rewarder is a simple way to remind your doggo who’s the bestest boy, even when you’re not right next to him. With a remote range of up to 100 feet, you can dispense treats to your pooch to redirect from distractions like the doorbell or that pesky squirrel on the porch, or you can work on commands in the training ring.
- PRAISE YOUR DOG: Trains your pet through positive reinforcement
- COMMUNICATE: Links a food reward to desired good behavior
- VERSATILE: Extendable training wand can be used with or without the base
- TRAIN FROM A DISTANCE: Hand held remote operates up to 100 feet away
The PetSafe Manners Minder is remote controlled, so you — rather than your pooch — remain in control of when the treat comes out. This is a very helpful feature for the gluttonous goobers out there.
It’s also fantastic for teaching your dog new skills. Just use the included target stick to help your dog learn things like a “go to your bed” command. Additionally, this interactive game can be used for training commands or as a positive reinforcement for avoiding nuisance behaviors, like door rushing.
This is a batter-operated device, so you don’t have to worry about finding an outlet that works with your desired placement, just add four D batteries.
The included training manual and DVD are great for those looking to use the device to its full potential. Compared to other treat dispensers, the noise isn’t that loud either, which is a win for shy dogs.
The remote range is only 100 feet, so it’s not a device that you can use when you aren’t home, which is a bummer. It’s also not something that your pooch can use on his own, since it needs your input for the reward to be dispensed. It’s a little pricey, too.
Treat-Dropping Interactive Dog Toys
If you have a food-motivated pooch, one of these epic treat-dropping toys discussed below should work perfectly!
8. Hound Games Hide N’ Treat
About: The Hide N’ Treat is a unique treat-dropping toy unlike any we’ve seen before. This toy functions by allowing you to hide a high-value treat wedged in what resembled a ball-and-socket joint. Your dog must yank the rounded ball section out of the socket hole in order to access that tasty treat!
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This is an especially great toy for owners who are concerned about weight gain. While many other food-based puzzle toys involve serious quantities of kibble, the Hide N’ Treat works great with just one treat, so long as it’s motivating and desirable enough for your dog to work for it!
Once your dog gets the hang of pulling the toy pieces apart, you can up the difficulty. Each toy section is labeled with a 1-5 difficulty rating. After your dog masters level one, you can graduate him to level two, three, and so on!
And don’t worry – even if you catch your dog chewing hard on the toy, you’re in good hands. This toy is made with super durable non-toxic rubber that holds up even against rough chewers (trust us, we’ve tried it)!
- Doesn’t require a ton of extra treats, keeping calories low
- Ultra heavy-duty to withstand tough chewers
- Difficulty can be adjusted to make the game more challenging
- Dishwasher safe, so easy to clean
- Dogs who are new to puzzle toys may find even level one too frustrating – you may have to help them by keeping the toy wedged apart slightly at first
8. Starkmark Treat Dispensing Chew Ball
It not only holds edible items your dog will have to work to access, it also rolls and bounces like a regular ball. It even floats, making it fun at the pool or beach.
- item size 4” wide x 3.75” high
- Fill with food or treats to keep your dog happily entertained
- Stronger and longer-lasting than natural rubber
- Recommended for tough chewers
Features: Made without any latex, vinyl, or phthalates, the Starkmark Chew Ball is made from what the manufacturer claims is a “virtually indestructible” material.
In fact, Starkmark specifically recommends the toy for tough chewers. It is also dishwasher safe, making it easy to keep the toy clean.
The ball features a central cavity that can hold your dog’s favorite treats or kibble. Flexible plastic tabs prevent the kibble from falling out too easily and require your dog to work hard to get his reward.
You can also trim the tabs to make it easier to get the treats, if need be.
The Starkmark Chew Ball is available in two sizes: medium and large.
Be sure to check out our video review of the Starmark ball (along with several other epic treat-dispensing balls) below:
Overall, the Starkmark Chew Ball received positive reviews from owners. Most dogs seemed to love playing with the toy, and it seemed durable enough to hold up to the chompers of most canines. A few owners also enjoyed the fact that they could use the ball in several different ways.
Some dogs found the treats a bit too hard to reach, but you can trim the tabs to make it easier for your dog to get the treats if necessary. Aside from that, the only other common complaint related to filling the ball — some owners simply found it too difficult. But, at least one owner sidestepped this challenge by making an improvised funnel out of a 2-liter bottle.
About: The Bob-A-Lot is a bowling-pin-like toy designed to slowly release treats or kibble as your pooch plays with it.
Large enough to hold a full meal’s worth of kibble (up to 3 cups), the Bob-A-Lot can work as an interactive toy or slow feeder.
- Exercises and feeds your dog at the same time. The Large bottom Chamber fits up to 3 cups of Food -...
- Adjustable openings at the top and bottom accommodate most types of dog Food and allow you to...
- Weighted anti-slip bottom makes the toy wobble erratically enticing your dog to play
- Every dog plays differently and, since not all toys are created equal, it’s always best to keep a...
Features: Made from rigid plastic, the Bob-A-Lot features a weighted, anti-slip base, which helps make it wobble in ways most dogs find interesting.
It comes with an adjustable port through which the treats will fall out when your dog shakes or rocks the toy. If your dog finds it too difficult to get his reward, simply make the opening larger; if it’s too easy, you can make the opening smaller.
It’s easy to fill or empty the Bob-A-Lot — simply unscrew the top cap to access the interior compartment. You can get the Bob-A-Lot in two sizes: large and small.
Want to see this toy in action? Check out our hands-on review of the Bob-a-Lot here!
The Bob-A-Lot enjoyed pretty positive reviews from most pup parents. The way it moves definitely seems appealing to most dogs, and the adjustable port makes it easy to customize the difficulty level to suit your dog. Owners also loved how easy the toy is to load.
Most owners liked the Bob-A-Lot, but a few complained that the toy was quite loud, but this is a relatively minor concern.
10. Kong Wobbler
About: The KONG Wobbler is a durable, more-or-less pear-shaped dog toy with a hollow interior and an access hole at each end.
To use the toy, you simply stuff it full of treats, kibble, or a pet-safe spread and let your dog try to figure out how to get the delicious reward inside.
- Large Dogs (Up to 65 lbs): The KONG Classic red rubber toy is 2.75" by 4"; it helps satisfy dogs'...
- Fetch and Chew Toy: The KONG Classic's unpredictable bounce makes for exciting games of fetch and...
- Stuffing: The stuffable KONG Classic is even more enticing when treat filled with bits of kibble,...
- Vet Recommended: Veterinarians and trainers worldwide recommend the KONG Classic as one of the best...
Features: The KONG Wobbler — like most other KONG toys — is designed to not only be fun, but safe and durable too.
It is made from a food-grade, high-strength polymer which is dishwasher safe, making cleanup a snap. It’s also made in the USA, which will give most pet owners peace of mind.
Loading the Wobbler is easy too, as the top simply screws off to give you access to the interior. The bottom half of the toy is weighted, which helps to make it fun for your pup to play with and helps prevent it from rolling away, like some similar toys commonly do.
The Wobbler is available in two sizes: Small and Large. The small version will hold ½ cup of food, while the large version will hold a full cup. This means you may even be able to use the Wobbler as a slow-feeder as well as an interactive toy.
If you want to see this toy in action, definitely check out our hands-on review of the Kong Wobbler to see a video of how it works.
Note: If your dog is exceptionally clever, you may want to opt instead for the KONG Genius. It’s a similar toy, but it is designed to be a bit trickier for pups to figure out.
Most dogs loved playing with the KONG Wobbler, and the difficulty level seems pretty well-suited to most pooches. Most owners found it easy to load and wash, and the toy seemed to remain interesting to most dogs for long periods of time.
Despite KONG’s dedication to producing durable toys, some dogs were capable of tearing the Wobbler apart. So, it probably isn’t a great option for power-chewing puppers. A few dogs did manage to get their teeth or mouth stuck in the treat port, so supervision is wise during the first few play sessions.
11. PetSafe Chilly Penguin
About: The PetSafe Chilly Penguin is a plastic mold which is designed to hold a dog-appropriate frozen liquid or filling for your dog to lick at.
After filling up the penguin (wet food or beef broth work great), you just pop it in the freezer, and then give it to your dog once frozen solid.
Your pup can then enjoy the tasty and refreshing treat — but it’ll take him a while to do so, thanks to the plastic flaps that partially block the frozen food.
- FROZEN FUN: The PetSafe Chilly Penguin Freezable Treat Holding Toy holds your dog's favorite frozen...
- SAFE AND SATISFYING: The Chilly Penguin gives you the option on the treat ingredients so you know...
- EASY TO CLEAN: The Chilly Penguin toy can be easily cleaned by putting it in the top rack of your...
- CUTE COMPARTMENT: The adorable snowflake-shaped design helps hold in flavored water, broth or your...
Features: Made from durable, vanilla-scented rubber, the Chilly Penguin is designed to work with a variety of different substances.
Peanut butter, dog-safe broth and fruit juices, yogurt, and commercial pet spreads are just a few of the things owners have used to keep their dogs and busy. You could even fill it with kibble or treats if you like.
Despite having a rounded base (which allows it to wobble and wiggle in a way that drives wild), the Chilly Penguin is stackable, which makes it easy to keep an entire regiment of frozen treats at the ready.
Once your dog has finished lapping up the cold-and-delicious treat, you can just toss the mold on the top rack of your dishwasher to get it squeaky clean and ready for reloading.
The Chilly Penguin is available in two sizes: small and medium/large.
Dogs seemed to love the Chilly Penguin — especially the tantalizing way it wobbles. But when they’re ready to get down to business, it seems easy for most dogs to hold. Owners reported that it was easy to use, a snap to clean, and kept their dog’s interest for quite a while.
Most owners described this toy as durable, but a few ultra power-chewing puppers have made quick work of it in the past.
12. PAW5 Wooly Snuffle Mat
About: Snuffle mats are somewhat like dog food puzzle feeders, except that they are designed to tap into your dog’s foraging instincts, rather than his problem-solving skills.
There are a number of snuffle mats on the market, but the Paw5 Wooly Snuffle Mat is one of the best ones we’ve found.
- Happy Dog Promise: Our premium snuffle mat for dogs will keep your puppy calm & occupied, fulfilling...
- Improves Metal Health: Ideal for all-sized dogs, Paw 5 dog enrichment toys make mealtimes fun &...
- 100% Pet Safe - 7 years of R&D: Whether you’re using it as a dog snuffle mat or dog beds for small...
- Stops Destructive Behavior: Keep your dog occupied & entertained for hours when left alone, by...
Features: The Paw5 Wooly Snuffle Mat is a machine-washable snuffle mat made by environmentally conscious manufacturers in Thailand and Ghana who use upcycled materials in the process.
To use the mat, simply sprinkle some kibble or treats among the fibers, and then let your dog try to sniff them out.
This mat is only available in one size and one color (Modern Gray), but it should work well for most dogs and match just about any home decor.
The PAW5 Wooly Mat received very positive reviews from most owners. Most reported that their dog loved foraging for edible items in the mat, and that it was easy to clean too. Several owners reported using the mat for many months or years, proving that this product will likely provide value for a long time to come.
Some dogs damaged their PAW5 Wooly Mat during normal use, so durability may be an issue for dogs who really like to dig. A few owners also mentioned that it takes a bit of effort to get the kibble to sink down into the mat’s fibers.
13. PetSafe Busy Buddy Tug-A-Jug
About: The Tug-A-Jug is a unique interactive toy that requires your dog to pull, twist, and tug on a rope to access the treats contained inside the toy.
This is a challenging gadget that is best-suited for brainy breeds and mighty-smart mutts.
- SUSTAINED PLAY: Interactive dog toy provides multi-sensory stimulation to keep your pet engaged for...
- LONG-LASTING: Durable non-toxic materials withstand prolonged use
- PROMOTES DENTAL HEALTH: Textured natural rubber wrap cleans teeth and gums
- EXTEND MEALTIME: Perfect for overly eager eaters; use as a kibble-dispensing feeder to make...
Features: The Tug-A-Jug is essentially a three-piece toy. It features a clear plastic bottle, a thick rope that passes through the bottle’s mouth, and a textured rubber wrap (complete with gum-massaging bumps), which provides additional chewing fun for Fido.
To use the toy, you simply add a handful of tempting treats and give it to your pupper.
The rope blocks off most of the bottle’s mouth, but treats can sneak by and fall out of the bottle when your dog wiggles and works the rope in *just* the right way (some owners found it helpful to demonstrate the mechanism to their pooch).
The Tug-A-Jug is available in three different sizes to suit your pooch: X-small, Small, and Medium/Large.
If your dog is food-motivated and “gets” the Tug-A-Jug, he’ll likely love it. And because it’ll hold a relatively substantial amount of food, it can keep your pup busy for quite a while — it may even work as a good slow feeder for some dogs.
One of the biggest downsides of the Tug-A-Jug is its country of origin: It is made in China and Taiwan, which may give some owners pause. Additionally, this toy was simply too difficult for some dogs. It’s probably a good idea to figure out how smart your dog is before buying this toy.
14. West Paw Qwizl Treat-Dispensing Puzzle Toy
About: The Qwizl Puzzle Toy is a combination chew-toy/treat-dispenser designed to keep your dog busy and make your treats last longer.
Like many other West Paw toys, this one is built with durability in mind and backed by the manufacturer’s 100% guarantee against damage.
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- EASY TO GRASP DOG CHEW TOY: The curved shape of this dog toy puzzle is easy to grasp and hold in...
Features: In a nutshell, the Qwizl is a vaguely bone-shaped chew toy with a hollow compartment you can stuff full of treats.
The Qwizl Puzzle Toy is made in US-based factories and from FDA-compliant materials. It is dishwasher safe, and you can even make sure it won’t end up in a landfill once you’re ready for a new one, thanks to West Paw’s recycling program.
The Qwizl is available in three colors (Aqua Blue, Tangerine, and Granny Smith), and it comes in two sizes: Large and Small. The former has a ¾-inch opening, while the latter features a ½-inch opening.
The Qwizl was a hit with most owners who tried it. Several power-chewing pupper parents reported that it held up to everything their canine’s teeth had to offer, and a few specifically mentioned that it helped make treats last much longer.
A very small number of dogs were able to destroy the toy, but that happens with every toy on the market — no matter how “indestructible” it claims to be. It was tough enough for most power chewers though!
15. Hyper Pet IQ Licking Mat
About: The Hyper Pet IQ Licking Mat is an interactive toy composed of a mat that’s filled with treats for your pup to lick away at.
The Lickimat can be helpful for a variety of applications.
You could not only use it to keep an unattended pet busy, but you could also use it as a distraction during nail trims, or as a soothing device to help stressed dogs feel better when thunderstorms or fireworks are booming outside.
- YOUR PET WILL LOVE IT: Studies show repetitive licking increases endorphins, which in turn calms...
- YOU WILL LOVE IT: This dog treat puzzle & cat treat puzzle companion provides tons of interaction...
- FUN HEALTH BENEFITS: Great for cat and dog dental care at home, our dog lick mat and cat food mat...
- THOUGHTFUL DESIGN: Our quadrant design helps guide portion control when spreading cat food, dog...
Features: The Hyper Pet IQ Licking Mat comes in three different styles, but they’re all fundamentally similar: They are flat plastic mats with ridged or textured surfaces.
To use it, just smear something delicious and doggo-safe on the top, and then lay it down in front of your pupper. The non-slip base will keep it in one spot, while your dog starts licking and lapping up the stuck-on savory goodness.
The licking mats are available in two sizes (Small/Medium and Large) and come with your choice of three different textures.
- The “Soother” is green, featuring small, rounded bumps
- The “Buddy” is orange, featuring raised “x” signs
A variety of edible items will work with licking mats, including peanut butter, canned pumpkin, yogurt, and canned foods. They’re also freezer- and microwave-safe, giving you even more flexibility.
They’re dishwasher safe too! Just make sure to put them in the top rack.
Learn more about how licking mats work by checking out our video review below:
Many owners were surprised by how much their doggo liked this toy and how long it kept their canine’s attention. It appeared effective in addressing a wide variety of issues, ranging from separation anxiety to light-speed feeding behavior (which can be dangerous), but some owners just used it as a fun enrichment tool.
A few dogs tore through the licking mat quickly, so they might not be great for dogs who can’t resist chewing things (the mat is, however, backed by a 90-day chewing warranty). Don’t give your dog a licking mat unattended – you’ll need to be there to take it away when they’re done eating so that they don’t destroy it!
16. Nina Ottosson Outward Hound Hide-N-Slide Puzzle Toy
About: The Hide-N-Slide is a flat, treat-holding toy that requires your pup to manipulate sliding and spinning covers to access treats concealed inside.
Part of a six-model interactive toy lineup, the Hide-N-Slide is one of the intermediate (Level 2) models in the series, making it a good starting point for most canines.
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Features: The Hide-N-Slide is made from a composite material that is designed to mimic natural wood.
Unlike some other interactive toys, which are a bit on the flimsy side, the Hide-N-Slide is well-built. It weighs more than two pounds and measures 14.5 inches long, 11.8 inches wide, and 2 inches thick. The bottom features a non-slip surface to keep it from sliding around the house.
The Hide-N-Slide comes with seven different treat-holding compartments, which can hold a variety of small treats or kibble.
All of the moving parts remain attached to the toy for safety, and you can clean the Hide-N-Slide with a bit of soap and warm water.
Generally speaking, the reviews for the Hide-N-Slide were quite positive. Most dogs seemed to enjoy trying to figure out the toy, and owners reported that it was well-made and easy to clean.
The only consistent complaint from owners was that the toy was a bit easy for dogs to figure out. So, while it may keep your dog occupied for 5 minutes or so the first time he plays with it, he’ll likely figure it out in a matter of seconds during subsequent play sessions.
17. Pet Zone IQ Treat Ball
About: The Pet Zone IQ Treat Ball is a transparent plastic ball that is built to slowly release tasty morsels as your dog rolls it around in specific ways.
You can fill it with small treats and use it as a brain-stimulating toy, or you can also load it with kibble and use it as a slow feeder.
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Features: The Pet Zone IQ Treat Ball is a customizable dog toy that gives you the ability to adjust the difficulty level by spinning an internal adjustment ring. This will help keep your pup interested after he’s figured out the basic method for getting the treats.
A two-piece toy, the Pet Zone IQ Ball is easy to fill, and cleanup is a snap — just take the two pieces apart, wash both pieces with soap and warm water, and then let it dry completely.
The Pet Zone IQ Treat Ball comes in two sizes: a 3-inch-diameter version for small dogs and a 4-inch version for bigger pups.
Many dogs seemed to love playing with the IQ Treat Ball, while owners loved how easy it was to load, clean, and use. The fact that you can adjust the difficulty level is also quite helpful, and it means that most owners should be able to customize the toy to suit their canine’s cranium.
Although this toy seemed to keep the attention of many four-footers, some dogs simply weren’t interested in playing with this treat ball. It is also important to monitor your dog carefully while using this toy, as it is not designed to hold up to power-chewing pooches.
Ball-Launching Interactive Toys
Picking a toy for a fetch-obsessed furball is pretty simple: You just need to pick up an automatic dog ball launcher. One of the options discussed below should fit the bill for your pooch!
18. IDOGMATE Ball Launcher
About: The IDOGMATE Ball Launcher does exactly what you’d expect it to: It allows your dog to play fetch all by himself!
Your dog simply drops a ball in the hopper, and the device automatically launches it a few seconds later.
- Made For BIG DOG -- The big ball launcher is suitable for mid sized and big dogs with 3 pieces...
- Money saving -- IDOGMATE is powered by AC Adapter or Rechargeable Batteries, Li-ion Battery support...
- Remote Control -- Adjust speed options by a remote controller or click the machine button...
- Creative and Programmable SPEED Setting --Programmable RANDOM speed setting; Remote controller with...
Features: The IDOGMATE Ball Launcher is a fairly simple toy, which basically consists of only two items: The launching station and an included remote control, which can be used to adjust the distance the ball is thrown.
You can set the device to launch the ball 10, 20, 30, or 40 feet, and it also has a random mode, which varies the distance the ball is tossed.
This interactive dog ball launcher also comes with a handy carrying case, so you can take the toy to the park or lake, and it also comes with three specially manufactured balls.
These balls are very similar to tennis balls in terms of size, but they feature a special non-abrasive felt, rather than the teeth-grinding felt used to make traditional tennis balls.
However, you can use regular tennis balls (or any balls about the same size), if you prefer.
The toy can be plugged into a standard outlet, or you can use the rechargeable Li-ion batteries that come with the unit. The IDOGMATE Ball Launcher can be used indoors or outdoors.
Most dogs seemed to love playing with this toy and owners appreciated the toy’s ability to toss the ball for their pooch. The trickiest part of using the toy for most owners was teaching their dog how to load the balls, but most puppers learned to do so pretty quickly. Additionally, the hopper’s design makes it very easy for most dogs to load.
A few particularly clever canines learned to anticipate the ball flying out of the device, so they’d simply stand right in front of it and catch the ball inches away. A couple owners reported that the toy simply stopped working after a short period of use, but such complaints were relatively rare.
19. Playball by Couch Potato
About: The Playball by Couch Potato is another automatic ball launcher designed to keep your retrieving Rover busy and his tail wagging.
However, it is important to note that this particular ball launcher is specifically intended for small dogs, as it uses balls that are small enough to be a choking hazard for big pups.
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Features: The Playball by Couch Potato is a small, hopper-style-loading ball launcher with an attractive red housing.
It works just like most other ball launchers do: You switch the unit on, give your dog a ball, and he drops it in the round hopper located on the top. A few seconds later, the toy fires a ball out and your pooch gets to chase after it.
The Playball utilizes special balls that are not only slightly smaller than standard tennis balls (they measure about 1.5-inches in diameter), but they’re also covered in a special material that prevents the launcher from becoming jammed when the balls are wet and slobbery.
You can set the Playball to launch balls for three different distances, based on the amount of space you have available. It comes with a power cord and features a series of LEDs that light up to indicate the current range setting.
Many owners were happy with the Playball, and explained that their pooch loved playing with the toy. It appears very simple to set up and use, and the multiple distance settings make it easy to adjust to suit the amount of space you have available.
The Playball is only suitable for small dogs, and it is only capable of launching the ball about 20 feet, but that’s not a huge issue for smaller pooches anyway. Nevertheless, the biggest complaints most owners reported were that the launcher jammed easily and the balls didn’t stand up to their pup’s chewing.
20. PetSafe Automatic Ball Launcher
About: The PetSafe Automatic Ball Launcher is a full-sized ball launcher that is designed to work with standard tennis balls, but you can also use smaller balls if you have a smaller pupper.
Unlike many other ball launchers on the market, the PetSafe Ball Launcher features more adjustable features and a neat safety sensor that prevents your or your pup from getting pegged at close range.
- SAFETY: Multiple sensors keep you and your dog safe; a FRONT MOTION SENSOR protects pets and people...
- DISTANCE: Launcher throws between 8-30 feet; has 9 distance settings and 6 angle settings; pull out...
- PAUSE: The Automatic Ball Launcher features a 15 minute rest interval after 15 minutes of play; the...
- OPTIONS: The PetSafe Automatic Ball Launcher can be used both indoors and outside to entertain and...
Features: The PetSafe Ball Launcher utilizes a hopper-style loading mechanism to make it easy for your pooch to use. He simply drops a ball in the loading mechanism on top and waits for it to launch a ball out.
The launcher will accept up to three balls at a time, which may be helpful for dogs who take their retrieving seriously. An audible tone sounds right before a ball is launched.
This ball launcher gives you the chance to set it at any of nine different distance settings, and you can also adjust the angle at which it fires out the ball.
It comes with a couple of cool safety features, including a motion-sensing sensor that prevents it from launching a ball when your dog (or anyone) is within 7 feet of the front, and it triggers an automatic 15 minute rest period after every 15 minutes of continuous play to prevent fetch-obsessed dogs from wearing themselves out too much.
The PetSafe Ball Launcher is water-resistant, and it can be used indoors or outdoors. It will work with the included power cord or you can add six “D” cell batteries, when you don’t have an outlet handy.
A lot of owners were really happy with the PetSafe Automatic Ball Launcher and reported that it worked well with their pooch. The adjustable distance and angle controls earned a lot of positive comments, and the audible tone that proceeds ball launching seemed helpful to many dogs.
Unfortunately, there were quite a few complaints about the product’s durability. Additionally, the unit seems very loud — loud enough to frighten some dogs away. Finally, the 15 minute cycle is way too short for some slow-moving dogs, almost defeating the purpose of the toy (to keep your dog occupied for significant periods of time).
Hide-And-Seek Interactive Toys
If your pooch likes to search for things by using his sniffer, these hide-and-seek-style toys are a great choice! Better yet, grab both of them, so you can switch them up and keep him interested!
21. Zippy Burrow Interactive Squeaky Hide and Seek Plush Dog Toy
About: The Zippy Burrow Hide and Seek Toy is a soft four-piece interactive plaything that will force your dog to flex his problem-solving skills.
To use this toy, you simply stuff the three unicorns inside their rainbow home and let your dog try to figure out how to extract them.
- Squeaker: 1 round squeaker in each unicorn
- Burrow Dimension: 7 x 4.5 x 4 in.
- Package Quantity: 1
- Excellent Quality.
Features: All pieces of the Zippy Burrow Hide and Seek Toy are made from high-quality plush fabric.
Each of the unicorns features an internal round squeaker to drive your dog wild, and the rainbow home has two openings — one on each side.
The toy’s soft texture means that this toy is not only suitable for interactive playtime, but that it’ll work well as a cuddle toy too. The manufacturer does caution that this toy is not suitable for aggressive chewers.
Many owners were genuinely surprised by how much their dog loved the Zippy Burrow Hide and Seek Toy. It kept many dogs busy for long periods of time, and the squeakers provide additional pup-pleasing value. A few owners were also pleasantly surprised by the toy’s durability.
There weren’t many complaints about the Zippy Burrow Hide and Seek Toy, but a few owners complained that it didn’t hold up to their dog’s teeth. Although as Zippy Paws notes, it’s not for heavy chewers!
22. Outward Hound Hide and Seek Toy
About: The Outward Hound Hide and Seek Toy is a multi-piece kit that challenges your dog to extract small toys that fit inside a larger “hiding spot.”
During playtime, you place the small toys inside the hiding spot and then give the toy to your dog, who can try to extract them via holes built into the hiding spot.
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Features: Outward Hound describes their Hide and Seek toy as an activity puzzle. Taking the hedgehog version as an example, the toy consists of a soft fabric “tree trunk,” and two included “Hedgiez” (stuffed hedgehog toys). The tree trunk comes with two small holes and a connected top flap, which also provides access to the toys.
If your dog isn’t interested in hedgehogs, you can choose from four other versions of the toy, based around rainbows, squirrels (see our full review of the Hide-A-Squirrel here), bees, or birds. They all vary slightly, but essentially work in the same way. For example, the bee version comes with a beehive rather than a tree trunk.
The small toys all come with internal squeakers, to help keep your canine’s attention.
You can purchase additional Hedgiez (or bees, birds, or squirrels) to replace any that become damaged or simply to give your dog more things to search for.
Outward Hound’s Hide and Seek Toys come in three sizes: Small, Large, and X-Large.
This toy received very positive reviews from most owners who tried it. Several were quite surprised at how much their dog seemed to like it, as well as how long it kept their dog’s attention. Owners also liked the opportunity to purchase additional small toys for these kits.
A few owners noted that this toy did not stand up to their dog’s teeth, so it isn’t a good choice for dogs who are aggressive chewers. Additionally, the internal squeakers can represent a choking hazard, so this toy should be reserved for supervised playtime only.
Specialized Interactive Dog Toys
Haven’t been able to find a perfect interactive dog toy for your pooch? Don’t worry — one of these four specialized interactive toys should work well for your doggo!
23. iDig Digging Toy by iFetch
About: The iDig is an innovative toy that stimulates your dog’s natural digging instincts. You simply set up the toy, hide a few treats or toys inside the flap pockets, and let your pooch have at it!
- Let the diggers dig! Finally, a positive outlet for your dog’s natural digging behavior.
- Bury the treasure: load the pockets of the idig flaps with your pup's favorite toys and treats and...
- Tire them out: the mental energy It takes to figure out how TO uncover the “loot” will tire them...
- Washing machine friendly: The flaps can be removed and thrown into the washing machine. Easy-peasy.
Features: The iDig features three fabric flaps that each come with different types of pockets. The flaps attach to the base of the toy along one side, allowing your dog to move them around and “dig” them up to access the hidden goodies.
The iDig Digging Toy is available in two slightly different versions. The iDig Stay is designed for home use and features a paw-proof plastic base, while the iDig Go is a travel-friendly version, which features a fabric base that’s easy to fold up and take with you.
The flaps are interchangeable, so you can use them with either version of the toy. They’re also machine-washable and emblazoned with a cute dog-paw graphic.
Although not every owner was happy with the iDig, it seemed to appeal to most dogs. It is one of the few toys on the market designed for doggos who love to dig, and even those who figured out how to find the hidden treats quickly seemed to remain interested in the toy for long periods of time.
Durability concerns were unfortunately common with this toy, and many dogs damaged the fabric flaps within a short time. However, replacement flaps are available, and most owners who experienced problems praised iFetch’s customer service department.
24. Tumbo Tugger Tug-Of-War Toy
About: The Tumbo Tugger is a tug-of-war-style toy, except that your dog can use it by himself!
You simply attach the toy to a sturdy tree limb (outdoor version) or your ceiling (indoor version) and let your pup go wild! He can then latch onto the included rope ball and pull to his heart’s content.
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Features: The Tumbo Tugger is a pretty simple toy, consisting of a long bungee strap, a small rope ball that serves as your dog’s handle, and a mounting attachment.
The outdoor version features a cord that wraps around a tree branch, while the indoor version comes with a hook you can install in your ceiling.
The bungee strap features an outer cover for protection, and the mounting cord features a “no-knot” design that makes it easy to adjust the height of the toy.
According to the manufacturer, you’ll want to attach it to a tree limb between 8 and 13 feet high (most standard residential ceilings are 8 feet high, so indoor mounting is hassle-free).
You can pick up the Tumbo Tugger in indoor or outdoor versions, and it comes in two sizes — one for small dogs and one for bigger dogs. You can also purchase replacement rope balls if your dog damages the original.
Most dogs loved the Tumbo Tugger and owners were equally thrilled. Several mentioned that it will keep their dog occupied and happy for much longer than they’d initially thought. Additionally, it seems quite durable, and more than one owner reported using it for longer than one year.
Some dogs managed to tug hard enough on the toy to snap the bungee strap, but this didn’t appear to be a terribly common problem. Some owners reported that the rope ball broke too, but this should be easy to replace with another rope toy.
25. SwiftPaws Lure Course
About: The SwiftPaws Lure Course is an innovative toy that taps into your dog’s primal prey drive.
This remote control dog chase toy allows your dog to chase a tantalizing lure along a course you design, through the use of a long cord and a motorized, remote-controlled pulley system.
Features: To use the SwiftPaws Lure Course, you feed the line through the SwiftPaws unit and pulley packs, set up your course in your backyard, and attach the flag lures. The included remote control allows you to adjust the speed and direction in which the lures move.
Honestly, it’s easier to just watch it in action:
The SwiftPaws Lure Course comes with a variety of components, but the primary parts include a long line, three pulley packs, a motorized SwiftPaws unit, and flags that work as lures.
You can also purchase additional or replacement parts, including pulley packs and flags with cute animal graphics.
The unit is capable of pulling the lure at speeds of 30 miles per hour, and it is backed by a one-year manufacturer’s warranty.
The SwiftPaws Lure Course is a truly unique dog toy, which gives your pup a chance to play in ways no other toys do. We also like that you can customize the course to suit your dog (and backyard), and appreciate that it is easy to purchase replacement parts, should anything break or go missing.
This is a pricey toy, but that’s to be expected of a remote-control dog chase toy that appears to be appealing to most pooches. Additionally, we fear that setting the toy up is likely more time-consuming than would be considered ideal. But, if you have a place to set it up and leave it, that wouldn’t be a big problem.
26. SoCal Bungee Spring Pole
About: The SoCal Bungee Spring Pole works like a tug-of-war partner for your pooch. Made with rugged components, this interactive toy is designed to withstand the jerking, pulling, and twisting that a 150-pound pooch can deliver.
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Features: The SoCal Bungee Spring Pole is a pretty simple product, essentially comprised of a heavy-duty spring with a clip at each end.
You attach one clip to a sturdy anchor and the other to the included rope-toy (although you could surely swap this out for similar toys if you like). Your pup can then start tugging on the rope and enjoy the toy’s ability to pull it in the opposite direction.
The unit’s spring can be swapped out if need be, and the included clips mean it shouldn’t be difficult to find somewhere to mount it (the manufacturer reports that it is typically easiest to mount it to a big, sturdy tree branch).
Despite being a remarkably simple contraption, the SoCal Spring Pole earned really positive reviews from most owners. The toy seemed most popular among pitties and pit-mixes, but it would surely work for Rotties, bulldogs, and other breeds who love to pull and tug.
A few owners complained that the spring was too strong, making it less fun for their pooch to use. A few owners also pointed out that you could likely build a similar toy yourself for less money, but that’s probably more trouble than it’s worth to save 10 or 20 bucks.
DIY Interactive Dog Toys
If you’re crafty or handy, you may want to consider making your dog an interactive toy rather than buying one.
Doing so will usually save you a bit of cash, and it also gives you the chance to make a toy that is custom-designed to your pet’s size, preferences, and personality.
It’ll obviously require you to spend a little time planning things out and building the toy, but that may be a good tradeoff for you and your pooch.
Plus, if you just start with a good set of DIY plans, you won’t have to do a bunch of designing — you can simply gather the materials and get to work.
Check out four of our favorite DIY interactive toys below!
26. DIY Water Bottle Toy
This water bottle toy from The Barkington Post is pretty simple, but it can provide quite a bit of enjoyment for some pooches.
It’s admittedly not as “interactive” as some other toys, but given how easy (and cheap) it is to make, you don’t have much to lose by trying it out.
In a nutshell, you’ll just cram a plastic water bottle inside a sock, tie it off, and then chuck it to your canine.
From there, he can crunch, chew, and mangle the toy to keep himself busy and relaxed. Note that the designers recommend tying off the end of the sock with twine, but we think it’d be safer to just tie a knot in the sock itself.
If you’re not in the DIY spirit, they are also a number of affordable dog water bottle toys you can purchase that are designed in a similar way.
- Plastic water bottle
27. DIY Pull-Apart Toy
If you have a dog who loves “dissecting” his stuffed toys, this is the perfect pet project for you! This toy, which comes courtesy of Leopold’s Crate, is designed to mimic this kind of playtime, but in re-usable fashion.
You will have to buy a toy to get this project started, but it’s a pretty cheap toy that is pretty fun for pooches in its own right.
From there, you just roll up some treats in the fabric swatches, stuff them into the ball, and then roll it in front of your pupper.
He can then start destroying it delightfully, pulling out the fabric strips one at a time to access the treats.
Note that this is not a good toy for dogs who may eat the strips, and you’ll definitely want to supervise your dog while he plays with it.
- Hol-ee Roller Dog Toy
- Strips of fleece fabric (probably at least 20)
28. Treat-Dropping Pipe
This toy (designed by Dog Tipper) is one of the simplest DIY interactive toys around, but it is a great way to keep your dog busy for a while. It’s also a really affordable toy to make, which requires only a handful of supplies.
To make this toy, you’ll simply drill a series of holes in the pipe, fill it with treats, and put a cap on each end. Then, you can give it to your dog, who’ll flip, chew, wiggle, and toss it around to access the tasty morsels inside.
The trickiest part of making this toy is figuring out the perfect size for the holes — you want the treats to barely fit through them, so they don’t just come flying out too easily.
Note that the materials list below is intended for making several of these toys at once. If you only want to make one, you’ll only need about 1 foot of pipe and two caps.
- One 3-foot length of 1-1/4-inch PVC pipe
- Eight 1-1/4-inch PVC caps
- PVC cement (optional)
- Cordless drill
- Drill bits
- Sanding bits to smooth holes
- Tape measure (optional)
29. Treat-Dispensing DIY Toy
This interactive toy from The Daily Dog Tag is probably our favorite of the bunch!
This one takes a bit more time and effort to make than some of the other ones, but it’s a neat toy that should keep your pupper interested for quite a while.
This toy basically consists of a large frame, a dowel, and two plastic soda bottles that spin around on the dowel. You toss some treats in the bottles and let your pup try to figure out how to spin the bottles in order to retrieve them.
There are likely a million ways you could construct this type of toy, so don’t hesitate to get creative and custom-build it to the specs that best suit you and your dog.
- Chicken nesting box
- One PVC pipe
- Two PVC caps
- Two 2-liter soda bottles
- Drill and bits
- Tape measure
- Scissors or utility knife
Types of Interactive Dog Toys
Interactive toys are all based on the same principle: They’re designed to make it easy for your dog to play by himself.
Toy manufacturers have unleashed an array of different interactive toys, and some are extremely creative products. That said, they tend to fit into one of several basic categories.
There is some crossover between styles, and some probably fit into more than one category. But, by familiarizing yourself with some of the basic types, you’ll likely be able to narrow your focus and pick the best type of interactive toy for your pet.
Interactive Electronic Dog Toys: Best for Dogs Left Alone for Long Stretches
Electronic dog toys come in a variety of different forms, but they all provide your pup with some type of entertainment.
Some, for example, may move a laser pointer around the room, while others give your dog the chance to play a canine version of “Simon Says.”
Many electronic toys also perform other actions or have additional capabilities. You can take photos of your dog mid-play with some electronic interactive dog toys, and others feature two-way speakers, so you can communicate with your dog during playtime from afar.
Treat-Dropping Interactive Toys: Best for Food-Motivated Pups
These toys are pretty self-explanatory: They dole out treats when your dog plays with the toy or performs a desired behavior.
In the simplest form, this includes things like KONG toys, snuffle mats and similar products, which force your dog to “work” to get the tasty treat inside.
Others are designed to be stuffed with treats, which the toy then releases in random, sporadic fashion as your dog plays.
Note that some electronic toys also distribute treats, and many pet cameras (which are certainly interactive devices, if not proper “toys”) provide treat-tossing functionality too.
Interactive Ball-Launching Toys: Best for Retrievers & Other Fetch-Loving Dogs
Forgive us for stating the obvious, but ball-launching toys are designed to toss a tennis ball for your pooch. But they vary in a ton of other ways.
Some ball-launching toys are designed to require no human interaction; your dog loads the ball in some type of ball hopper, and either paws some type of trigger or simply waits for the ball to launch automatically. Cue the chaotic cuteness of your canine chasing his ball around the kitchen (or backyard).
Really cool ball-launching toys will pair with your phone or perform a variety of different “games.” Many will allow you to adjust the distance or angle at which the ball is thrown, and some work with several balls at a time. This minimizes the need for you to retrieve lost or canine-inaccessible balls.
Interactive Toys with Hidden Components: Best for Sniffers and Diggers
These types of toys come in a variety of styles, sizes, and shapes, but they all feature some type of hidden treat or high-value toy that is designed to be difficult for your doggo to access.
Some of these toys are essentially soft, plush “containers” that come with smaller toys (which often feature a squeaker) you’ll need to place inside. Your dog then has to use his smarts and his snoot to try to get them out.
Others – such as snuffle mats — feature a multitude of nooks and crannies in which you can stash treats. Once again, your dog will have to sniff out the hidden prizes.
A few hidden-goodie toys instead work by encouraging your dog to dig for the delicious treats hidden inside.
Interactive Tension Toys: Best for Tug-of-War-Loving Dogs and Pulling Puppers
Tension dog toys are awesome playthings for dogs who love tug toys and vigorous tug-of-war contests with their peeps.
They’re fairly simple devices, featuring an enticing toy at one end, some type of strong anchor to keep it in place, and a big ‘ole spring (or something similar) in between the two.
All you need to do is mount or place the toy, teach your dog to use it, and then get out of the way.
The springs will help the toy “respond” to your dog’s tugs, twists, and canine contortions. Different tension toys can be set up in different orientations, to provide a variety of play positions for your pooch.
Not all dogs will find these types of toys stimulating, but those who like them often love using them for considerable periods of time.
Mobile Interactive Toys: Best for Dogs with High Prey Drives
These types of interactive dog toys are designed to move. This will help stimulate your pet’s curiosity, and it’ll usually tickle your pet’s prey drive too.
Mobile interactive toys come in a bunch of different styles. Some are self-contained units that feature wheels or some other method of locomotion, while others feature one or more “lures” that are attached to something that moves.
As with electronic toys, some are designed to work automatically (set ‘em and forget ‘em), while others can be controlled via your computer or a smartphone app.
Miscellaneous Interactive Toys: Best for a Variety of Different Dogs
Most interactive dog toys fit into one (or more) of the categories above, but given the creative nature of these items, some will always defy categorization.
If you spot an interactive toy you like that doesn’t fit into one of the categories discussed above, just be sure to consider your dog’s aptitudes, anxieties, and interests to ensure it’ll be a good fit.
Note that you can also make your own DIY interactive toys (we’ll share some plans later in the article). So, if you decide to get creative, you could conceivably invent entirely new interactive-toy categories!
Matching Your Dog’s Personality to the Perfect Interactive Toy
It’s important to pick an interactive toy that matches well with your dog’s personality. Otherwise, you may end up with a broken toy on your hands.
Even more frustratingly, you may find that your pooch isn’t interested in the new toy at all – no matter how much you’ve spent on it!
Start by focusing on the interactive toy category that best suits your pet.
Retrievers will usually love ball-launchers, but bulldogs will likely prefer tension toys. Your basset hound will probably find a snuffle mat very intriguing, but your terrier will likely prefer chasing a moving toy instead.
But aside from these broad recommendations, there are a few other things you’ll want to keep in mind when picking a toy:
- Some dogs may become frightened by toys that move or make noise. If you have a skittish pooch, it’s usually a good idea to allow your pet to familiarize himself with the toy at his own pace, and while the toy is off. Then, as he becomes more comfortable with it, you can start activating some of the calmest programs or features.
- Be careful to select rugged toys for power-chewing puppers. If your dog can make quick work of even the heaviest-duty chew toys, you’ll need to exercise care when picking an interactive toy too. It’s also important to supervise your pooch the first several times you allow him to play with it, to ensure he’s not going to break it, injure himself, or swallow small parts.
- Consider your level of technical sophistication. Some toys are designed to be controlled from a smartphone or computer. This will usually entail downloading and launching some type of app, and you may also have to pair your device to the new toy via Bluetooth or WiFi. Many of the best interactive toys are designed to be very user-friendly, but techophobes may find simpler interactive toys less headache-inducing.
Interactive dog toys are a great way to keep your dog occupied and happy while you have other things going on.
Fortunately for dog owners, there are currently scads of different interactive options available, so most people should be able to find one that is the perfect fit for their four-footer.
Just be sure to select the right type of toy for your dog’s size, personality, and play preferences.
Have you ever purchased an interactive toy for your dog? Let us know all about it! Which toy did you pick? Did your dog enjoy it? Did these toys keep your dog busy and out of trouble? Share your experiences in the comments below!