27 Best Interactive Dog Toys: Keep Your Dog Occupied!

Toys

WRITTEN BY:

Meg Marrs

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best-interactive-dog-toys

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:

  1. “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. 
  2. “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 Dog Toys

1. Bob-A-Lot

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. 

Trainer-favorite puzzle toy

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.

Our Paws-on Assessment

The Bob-A-Lot has been my go-to kibble feeder for the past five years. Remy eats every breakfast and dinner via this toy and I’m a huge fan.

remy bobalot

I love that I can adjust the food dispenser opening as needed — so for example, if we do an outdoor picnic and I have Remy have his dinner in the grass, I can make the opening larger to adjust for the more difficult terrain.

It’s such a great, easy way to make mealtime more engaging and fun. I’ll admit it can be a bit of a hassle clean, but to say I’m a big fan of the Bob-A-Lot would be an understatement. It’s an essential part of my daily routine with Remy!

Want to see this toy in action? Check out our hands-on review of the Bob-a-Lot here!

PROS

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. 

CONS

Most owners liked the Bob-A-Lot, but a few complained that the toy was quite loud, but this is a relatively minor concern. 

2. Outward Hound Hide and Seek Toy

About: The Outward Hound Hide-A-Squirrel is a multi-piece toy that challenges your dog to extract soft squeaky squirrels from inside their plush log “hiding spot.”

During playtime, you place the squirrels inside the log and then give the toy to your dog, who can try to extract them via holes.  

Best for food-free fun
Outward Hound Hide-A-Squirrel

Dogs go nuts for this fun stuffed puzzle toy, where you can stuff the squirrels into the log and have your dog drag them out!

Buy on Amazon Read Our Full Review

Features: Outward Hound describes their Hide and Seek toy as an activity puzzle.

We love that this toy provides plenty of fun without involving food. And fun it certainly does provide — dogs go asolutely bannas over this thing! Something about yanking those little squirrels out from their hidey holes seems to give dogs a supernatural high.

If your dog isn’t interested in squrrels, you can choose from four other versions of the toy, based around rainbows, hedgehogs, 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 squirrels to replace any that become damaged or simply to give your dog more things to search for.  

The toy also come in three sizes: Small, Large, and X-Large. 

PROS

Owners are often surprised at how much their dog seems to adore this toy, and how long it keeps their dog’s attention.

CONS

A few owners noted that this toy did not stand up to their dog’s teeth — it’s definitely the kind of toy where you need to monitor and take away before your dog gets to chompy if you want it to last more than one play session. Plus, the internal squeakers can represent a choking hazard, so this toy should be reserved for supervised playtime only. 

Our Paws-on Assessment

Remy goes absolutely cuckoo-bannanas for this toy! Something about this toy feeds his deep lust for squirrel destruction.

Part of me thinks there’s no way he can know these stuffies are stand-ins for his arch-nemesis — the squirrel — but he certainly acts like he’s getting gleeful revenge for their endless tree-top taunting.

remy hide a squirrel

Make sure to read our full review of the Hide-A-Squirrel if you want to see video proof of Remy taking unholy joy in these squirrels discovery and destruction.

3. 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. 

A freezable chew toy
PetSafe Chilly Penguin

An adorably stuffable rubber chew that's freezer and dishwasher-safe.

See on Amazon

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. 

Our Paws-on Assessment

I use a lot of stuffable and freezable toys, and I’m a big fan of them across the board. What I really like about the Chilly Penguin is that the rubber is so thick that it’s really tough to break or chew apart. It can also be filled with liquid items like beef broth since it doesn’t have any holes on the sides or bottom.

chilly penguin

PROS

This toy is definitely durable — it’s also easy to clean and can be filled with liquids, which is a nice bonus. It also wobbles slightly when on the floor, adding a bit of extra challenge.

CONS

It doesn’t hold a ton of food, so it’s best for a daytime snack. Extra-determined chewers might be able to break off some pieces if they’re left alone with it.

4. 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 may be thinking — how can a camera be considered an interactive toy?

There in lies the magic my friends. With this device, you can log into the app on your phone and shoot out treats to your pup, swiping on the screen Angry Birds-style to determine how far the treats will fly. It’s perfect for having fun with your pup while you’re away, and keeping your canine companion on their toes!

Plus, you can set up the Petcube camera to share your dog’s stream with friends and family too — how cute is that?

Best for home-alone dogs
Petcube Bites 2 Pet Camera
Throw your dog treats via the app or set it up to dispense treats every 30 minutes or every hour!
Buy on Amazon

Features:

  • 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.
Our Paws-on Assessment

The PetCube is a really solid pet monitoring camera, but the treat throwing function is what really sets it apart. I can’t tell you how much fun it is to toss treats out at your dog from your phone.

Of course your dog doesn’t know you’re the one responsible for those goodies raining from the sky, but it makes you feel like you’re having fun with your buddy.

petcube-view

Want to see more of the PetCube in action? Check out our hands-on review of the PetCube Bites 2 here!

PROS

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.

CONS

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.

5. 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!

A fun, challenging puzzle
Hound Games Hide N' Treat

A pupper puzzle that keeps canines guessing with its tough assembly.

See on Amazon
hound games hide n treat
hide n treat pieces

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)!

Our hands on test

Remy and I got to try out the Hide N’ Treat ourselves and we really loved it!

With a piece of air-dried beef jerky wedged in the socket, Remy had a great time chewing and pulling at the toy until he finally pulled apart the pieces!

remy-getting-toy

I really like that this game made Remy use his brain and body in a way that’s different than most toys.

While most standard puzzle toys involve chewing, licking, or knocking a toy around, this require Remy to actually pull apart two wedged-together toy pieces, which isn’t an action he normally performs.

It was a real kick to watch him think through the whole process!

remy-hidentreat

After he completed level one, I tried going to level two with him, but he eventually gave up, so I’d suggest building good experiences and rewards with level one before increasing the difficulty.

Overall, I’m a huge fan of this toy simply for how unique it is! It’s really one of a kind, and I can see it as a fantastic pick for ultra clever dogs who have mastered every other kind of puzzle toy and are in need of a brand new challenge.

And with Remy being a super tough chewer, I can attest to the fact that this thing lasts – he definitely tried his best to break the toy open, and it doesn’t even have a scratch on it!

Pros

  • 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

Cons

  • 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

6. CleverPet

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.

CleverPet

A game-packed gadget that puts your shepherd’s brain to work with tasks of increasing difficulty.

Buy on Amazon

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.  

Pros

  • Easy for dogs to figure out and operate
  • Graduate to increasingly difficult games as your dog gets the hang of it

Cons

  • A pretty pricey dog toy — much more expensive than most on this list
  • Non-tech-savvy owners may find it challenging to set up, but CleverPet’s customer service is responsive and eager to help

7. 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. 

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.  

PROS

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.

CONS

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.

8. 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!

Hyper Pet Doggie Tail Interactive Plush Dog Toys (Wiggles, Vibrates, and Barks, Stimulating Play)
  • 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. 

PROS

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. 

CONS

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.

9. Starkmark Treat Dispensing Chew Ball

About: The Starkmark Chew Ball is a treat-dispensing ball toy that also works as a slow-feeder or regular old fetch toy.

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. 

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.

Our Paws-on Assessment

The Starmark ball is one of the first food-dispensing toys I ever tried when I was first discovering interactive, enrichment dog toys. It’s super simple, easy to use, and dogs love it. The only downside is that once you trim the tabs (or your dog rips them off), you can’t re-adjust the difficulty. And I found it quickly became too easy for Remy — that’s when I switched to the Bob-A-Lot.

starmarkball

Be sure to check out our video review of the Starmark ball (along with several other epic treat-dispensing balls) below:

Pros

  • Solid, easy food-dispensing ball that’s affordable and simple enough for most dogs to master.
  • Pretty durable — can stand up to chewers.

Cons

  • The ball can be a bit of a pain to fill, although using a funnel makes it 10x easier.
  • I don’t love that once you cut the tabs off (or your dog rips them off), you can no longer change the difficulty — I found that once Remy got the hang of using it, he could get all the food out in just a few minutes.

10. Kong Wobbler

About: The KONG Wobbler is a toy that’s pretty similar to the Bob-A-Lot in how it functions.

You just screw off the top to get access to the toy’s interior, fill it with food, and then screw the top back on. Plop it on the ground and watch your pup knock and roll the toy to get kibble to shoot out of the hole!

The toy’s bottom half is weighted, which helps prevent the toy from rolling away, like some similar toys commonly do.  

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.  

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. 

Our Paws-on Assessment

I’ve gone back and forth between the Bob-A-Lot and the Kong Wobbler quite a bit over the years. In the end, I’ve settled on the Bob-A-Lot because being able to adjust the difficulty for my smart pants pup has been the most important feature for me, and the Kong Wobbler doesn’t have the option to adjust the kibble dispensing hole’s opening.

remy with wobbler

But, there are a lot of factors that might make other owners prefer the Kong Wobbler. For one, it’s much easier to load up — all you have to do is pour the kibble in. You don’t have to shake the kibble through a narrow slot, as you have to with the Bob-A-Lot.

Loading Kong Wobbler

This also makes the Kong Wobbler much easier to clean. Just open the top and give it a washing and you’re good to go. The Bob-A-Lot requires a lot more draining due to the more hidden interior components.

And, while you can’t customize the difficulty, you can make it a bit more difficult by adding some tennis balls in with your dog’s kibble. It just creates a couple of additional moving barriers between the kibble and the dispensing slot. That might be plenty of challenge for some dogs, especially those new to puzzle toys!

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.

Pros

  • A food dispensing toy that’s super easy to load
  • Really easy to clean, especially compared to other interactive puzzle toys

Cons

  • Not as challenging as the Bob-A-Lot
  • The difficulty can’t be adjusted

11. 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. 

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. 

Our Paws-on Assessment

While this snuffle mat isn’t as colorful or glamorous as some other options, it’s a solid size with long pieces of fabric. I had tons of fun using this with Remy and hiding kibble within the fabric folds for him to sniff and snuff out.

remy snufflemat

PROS

Great for foraging and boasts lots of densely packed fabric pieces — definitely more fabric than you see with most snuffle mats.

CONS

Some other snuffle mats have more variation, with longer pieces of fabric and different shapes — but I would say this one has much more pieces of fabric, and thicker fabric pieces as well.

12. 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. 

PetSafe Busy Buddy Tug-A-Jug Meal-Dispensing Dog Toy Use with Kibble or Treats Small
  • 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. 

PROS

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. 

CONS

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. 

13. 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. 

Features: In a nutshell, the Qwizl is a vaguely bone-shaped chew toy with a hollow compartment you can stuff full of treats.

Unlike many other dog food puzzle toys, the Qwizl’s compartment is designed to work with a variety of different treats, including bully sticks, dental chews, and kibble-like morsels. 

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. 

Our Paws-on Assessment

I love all of West Paw’s Zogoflex toys, including the Qwizl! It’s a great toy for stuffing and freezing to give your dog something to gnaw and lick at as an afternoon activity. I do find the Qwizl a bit more work to stuff than West Paw’s other freezable toys, but this also means that it usually takes Remy longer to eat all the food, occupying him for longer.

qwizl

Pros

  • Holds up really well, even with power chewers
  • Perfect for stuffing and freezing to give your dog a treat to chomp on

Cons

  • Can be a bit more effort to load due to the narrow design — you kind of have to stuff the food down in there with a knife

14. LickiMat Buddy

About: The LickiMat Buddy 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. 

LickiMat Slow Feeder

Powerful enrichment tools that encourage a dog to self-soothe and relax through licking.

Buy on Amazon See Our Full Review

Features: The LickiMat Buddy comes in several styles, but they’re all fundamentally similar: They are flat plastic mats with ridged or textured surfaces. We chose the LickiMat Buddy Tuff to feature here because it’s made of more durable materials than the classic silicone versions.

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. 

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.

Our Paws-on Assessment

Lickimats are kind of a go-to essential in my house. I usually do a little meal-prep night where I load up a ton of Lickimats, KONGs, and West Paw toys with wet dog food to freeze and dispense to my dog thorough the week as an enrichment activity.

For us, Lickimats are easiest item for Remy to eat — he finishes a LickiMat much faster than a stuffed KONG or Qwizl, but they are also the easiest to put together. I just slab on some yogurt and wet dog food and call it a day!

If you want a rewarding enrichment toy that’s fast to put together and not as messy at stuffing some other toys, licking mats have your number!

lickimat-review

Learn more about how licking mats work by checking out our video review below:

Pros

  • Super simple and fast to whip together
  • Effective in addressing a wide variety of issues, ranging from separation anxiety to light-speed feeding behavior (which can be dangerous)

Cons

  • Dogs will sometimes tear through the more basic silicone mats, so make sure to take it away when the dog is done eating — or opt for the tougher, more durable models

15. 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. 

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. 

Our Paws-on Assessment

I’ve experimented with just about all of Nina Ottoson’s puzzle toys, and I have to say, the Hide-N-Slide is definitely one of my favorites.

I really, really like that there are no detachable pieces. With any of the Nina Ottoson toys that do have detachable pieces, my dog almost always inevitable chews on a piece or steals it away. Having all the pieces attached makes things more more simple.

And, since everything it attached to one unit, it also makes this toy a lot easier to clean, as you don’t have to spend time wiping down each individual component.

hide-n-slide

Admittedly, my clever guy does make pretty fast work of this toy. But, it’s easy enough to put clean that I never find myself thinking that the effort isn’t worth it — with some other Nina Ottoson toys, I do find myself wondering if all that cleaning was worth the 3 minutes of fun.

Pros

  • Since there are no detachable parts, you don’t have to worry about choking hazards
  • Very easy to clean, especially compared to some other toys in the Nina Ottoson line
  • A really great balance of challenge while still being achievable and not too frustrating for most dogs.

Cons

  • Once some dogs figured out how this puzzle worked, they were able to make very quick work of it on additional play throughs.

16. 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. 

Best first-time puzzle feeder
Pet Zone IQ Treat Ball

This puzzle feeder ball can be filled with kibble, allowing your dog to knock and roll the toy around to get his food.

Buy on Amazon

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. 

Our Paws-on Assessment

I know a lot of owners who really love the IQ Treat Ball, but it was never a huge hit with Remy. He much preferred the Starmark ball. Something about the tough plastic exterior made this one unappealing for him. But, it is pretty cool to see how the treats move thorough the chamber due to the clear see-through material.

Pros

  • Very easy to load up with food
  • The difficulty can be adjusted by adding or removing slots within the ball

Cons

  • Some dogs just don’t seem interested in this toy at all

17. 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. 

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 automatic 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. 

PROS

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. 

CONS

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). 

18. 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! 

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. 

PROS

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.  

CONS

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. 

19. 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.

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. 

Our Paws-on Assessment

The Tumbo Tugger is one of the more unique interactive dog toys on our list. Remy had a lot of fun with this toy, but it didn’t encourage as much independent play as I hoped it would. My original idea was that Remy would occupy himself with this toy, instead of me playing tug of war with him.

But, he only seemed interested in playing with it if I was right there egging him on.

It might do the trick for other pups, but at the end of the day after the novelty wore off, I found that Remy really preferred playing tug of war with me (or having me stand there being his cheerleader, as the very least).

PROS

Several owners found that this toy kept 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. 

CONS

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. 

20. 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. 

Best for energy-burners
SwiftPaws Lure Course

This sport-level lure course can easily be set up in your backyard and will have your dog running circles.

Buy Now

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. 

PROS

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.  

CONS

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. 

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!

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. 

DIY Dog Toy 4

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.

Materials:

  • Sock
  • Plastic water bottle
  • Twine 

Tools:

  •  Scissors

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. 

DIY Dog Toy 9

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. 

Materials:

Tools

  • Scissors 

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!

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Written by

Meg Marrs

Meg Marrs is the Founder and Director of Marketing at K9 of Mine. She is a lifelong canine enthusiast and adores dogs of all shapes and sizes! She loves iced coffee, hammocks, and puppy-cuddling!

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  1. Sarwar Abdullah Avatar
    Sarwar Abdullah

    Thank you incredibly much!!
    I needed to know which toys to buy for my dog’s birthday!!

    1. Ben Team Avatar

      Glad to have helped, Sarwar!

  2. Steven Nungaray Avatar
    Steven Nungaray

    I have a Shepard Mix who is a VERY aggressive chewer, toys destroyed in minutes to a couple of days, except the Kong Extreme Fill Toy. But she gets bored with that pretty fast.
    So I was very hesitant to buy the Large WEST PAW Zogoflex Qwizl from my local Pet Supply suggested for $20. I figured she would have chunks torn out of it in a day or two. So I bought a Bully Stick like they suggested and inserted it inside and gave it to her. Almost 4 months later it is still in almost perfect condition and another plus the Bully Stick lasts about a week or more, before ‘I’ pull it out and give her what is left. It is her favorite toy, plus I don’t like to leave give her chewable items she could choke on when I put her in the kennel when I am out. But after a month I felt pretty confident that I could trust her unsupervised with it for a few hours. THIS TOY HAS BEEN A GAME CHANGER!!!!!

    1. Ben Team Avatar

      That’s awesome, Steven! Glad you found something that works, and we appreciate you sharing!